What is National Coming Out Day?
What is National Coming Out Day?
National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is a day for LGBT awareness and celebration happening held on October 11th each year.
National Coming Out Day was based around the recognition of homophobia thriving in atmospheres that are silent and therefore encourage ignorance towards an issue that is often closer to home than many people identify. Once people are made aware of loved ones and close friends who identify as existing with the LGBT community, the freedom to express sexual orientation becomes much easier and a more positive experience.
With growing focus on the topics that exist within the LGBT+ sphere, “Coming out” includes not only voluntary self-disclosure of a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation, but also gender identity, transgender, genderqueer, cisgender, pansexual and asexual among others. Its an area that has been publicly supported and promoted by celebrities such as George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston and public figures all the way to Oprah and Obama, it is important to recognize the role we can all play in either our own or others experiences in coming out.
Michael Sam became the NFL's first openly gay player when he came out in February 2014
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel waves as he poses with his partner Gauthier Destenay, after their wedding ceremony at Luxembourg's city hall, May 15, 2015
We spoke to Tom, a teacher from London on his experience, here’s what he had to say:
What does the term coming out mean to you?
At the time, it meant to get to the place that straight people were in. A place where they could just live openly as themselves and didn't have to think about their sexuality.
Thinking about it now, it's not possible. I think coming out is about being unashamed of your sexuality.
Can you tell me about a time or experience which you associate with coming out?
The most significant person I came out to was my mother, when I was 17. I was going on a school trip to Rome that evening. I remember sitting on the stairs, downing a mini bottle of vodka in preparation. I went into the living room and told her and the result was underwhelming. She thought it was just a phase and didn't quite believe me. She was then worried about my trip to Rome. I could tell a million things were going through her head as she blurted out that she thought I could get molested by an older man and catch AIDS (despite this being a chauffeured religious studies school trip).
It wasn't mentioned again (aside from one bitter argument) until years later when I had a boyfriend and we were about to move in together. I first introduced him as a friend. As he was a charming and polite guy, I knew she would be totally enamored by him and he did win her over. Afterwards I told her that he was my boyfriend and we were going to move in together. She replied with "All I want is your happiness. It's all I've ever wanted."
I knew that by meeting him and seeing what a regular relationship we had, she could understand it better and it normalized the situation for her. We are long broken up, but she still asks about him to this day.
What do you think some of the challenges are that exist within this topic? Do you think these have changed over time?
The most obvious challenge is prejudice, and from things I have seen in the media, it has been improving in the UK. It will never be perfect, but it's going in the right direction.
One of the challenges I had early on was that people didn't react the way I thought they would. When you tell your first few people you're nervous and anxiously await their reaction. People that I thought would be laid back weren't and people I thought were the most trustworthy weren't. Looking back, I was just 15 at the time, so I couldn't really read people and this is not a cultural issue, but more of an age issue.
If you could offer advice to any young person concerned about coming out to friends or family – what would you tell them?
I would say that it feels like you're on a high diving board, about to jump off. You don't really know how people will react but you just have to remember that you're doing the right thing in order to live an authentic life. You have to hold on to that.
Whilst coming out can be difficult, things can be made easier by having supportive friends and family around you. There’s lots you can do today if someone close to you comes out, or if you yourself is thinking about coming out. If today is the day, check out these top tips from Ditch the label:
Don’t feel pressured – Everyone has the right to come out in their own time. Don’t feel pressured to tell those close to you until you feel read.
Don’t label yourself if you don’t want to – Although you my feel ready to come out, you may not feel you fit any particular “label”
Read how other people came out - Check out our interview with Tom, find articles online, check out twitter. Today people around the country will be sharing how they came out.
Forget the Stereotypes - When gay people first started to appear on TV and in the media, the stereotypes that were common were those of effeminate camp men and butch women.
You’ll be protected as school, college and university - Every school, college, uni and even workplace has a legal obligation to ensure that every one of its students or employees is treated fairly and offered the same opportunities.
Some people do have negative experiences - There’s no point denying it. That’s why it’s important that if you decide the time is right for you to come out, make sure you have a safety net if things don’t go to plan.
Give people time - You may have had years to get to a place where you are comfortable with being lesbian, gay or bisexual. Just think though, those people who you will be telling will have a split second to give you a reaction.
Start Living - You will be amazed at how free you will feel once you have come out.
Share you experiences below, we would love to hear them!