Coming out – speaking the truth that we’re not sure others want to hear – it’s a courageous act. What reaction will we meet? Celebration, condemnation, curiosity or indifference? Will people stand by us, or will they walk away?
Will we, maybe, inspire someone else to have the courage to speak their hidden truth?
What we can be certain of is that the moment we stop hiding who we really are, then we’ve already changed our lives.
National Coming Out Day
11th October every year is named National Coming Out Day (though it is now marked internationally). It was started in 1988 by U.S. gay rights activists, Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary and it is a celebration of the courage and the freedom to come out.
According to Stonewall at least 1 in 4 LGB people are not out at work. The figure is expected to be even higher for Trans people. What they’ve also found is that 62% of people who considered themselves out at university, feel the need to conceal their sexual orientation again when they join the workforce.
Dr. Eichberg said, “Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does.” Stonewall says, “Each individual who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality.”
Of course, nobody should tell you when and how it’s right for you to come out. And it may be that coming out is actually a gradual process – being out at home is different to being out to your friends and different again to being out at work. Two questions we could all ask ourselves on National Coming Out Day are:
- What truth am I ready to stop hiding?
- How can I help other people feel safe to show their true selves?
For more information and support, download these guides from Stonewall: