In 1988, October 11 was designated as “National Coming Out Day,” though it’s really international. I will be celebrating Coming Out this entire month on Gay Video of the Week. Be sure to come back every Saturday. I also have a page dedicated to Coming Out Stories that you can find on my website.
The Importance of Coming Out
Concealing one’s identity can be horribly painful, magnified many times over if you think there’s a chance your family will reject you — the people you love and need the most. Many youth still struggle today with self-acceptance, rejection by family, bullying and worse. Estimates vary widely, but as many as 40% of homeless youth on the street may be LGBT. Some were thrown out while others left on their own to escape hostility or physical and emotional violence. LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than the average teenager. LGBT youth rejected by their families are 9 times more likely to commit suicide — nine times!
Coming out is an incredibly important and powerful act — but only when you’re ready, of course. Not before.
Millions of people have done so, and there’s no question these individual acts of courage have unleashed a mighty power. Our increasing visibility has propelled LGBT rights forward at amazing speed. It’s much harder for people to remain bigoted when they realize they’re surrounded by gay people. We are your parents, children, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, teachers, pastors, doctors, coworkers, bosses — potentially anyone, anywhere. We are the people you love, cherish and respect. And yes, sometimes we’re the ones that annoy and piss you off! That jerk that cut you off yesterday? … Could be!
It‘s not really known how many gay people there are. Most credible estimates range from about 5% to 10% of the population. My gut instincts tell me it’s higher — 15% at least — because the official estimates depend on people self-disclosing their attractions and experiences. For many it‘s still very difficult to acknowledge this, even to themselves. Someone that conflicted and closeted is unlikely to tell a researcher or pollster, no matter how confidential.
But let‘s go with the official high-end estimate of 10%. That‘s about 32 million people in the United States — greater than the population of any single state except California.
October 11 Every Year
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and others compile videos each year for Coming Out Day. To launch the month, here’s a selection of these annual videos.
Title image: daniel james on Unsplash
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