October 11 is National Coming Out Day. The date of October 11 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Most people think they don’t know anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, but the likelihood is, everybody does. The day is intended to help shine a light on individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community and our decisions to share our gender identities and sexual orientations. Also, to support those who are not able to come out, or perhaps encourage someone to come out who’s been thinking about it.
I had the privilege of hosting a Coming Out Day celebration in my small town of Collingswood, NJ, on Saturday, October 8. As the borough’s first openly queer commissioner, it was a thrill to organize such and event alongside our out and proud fire chief, who opened the evening by sharing his own coming out story. The event was so filled with community and acceptance that several people in the crowd felt safe and secure enough to take a turn with the microphone and tell their personal stories.
Our stories matter. Community matters. Love matters. Silence breeds fear and hate and we mark this occasion to celebrate and break the silence. We celebrate the personal bravery and very personal decision to come out as your authentic self, whether to yourself, family, close friends, or the whole world. We all have a unique story in this journey.
I marvel at the love and belonging in the queer community, our chosen family. To those who’ve been out for years, thank you. To those newly or nearly out, welcome home. To those of you still sorting your feelings and ideas, we’ll be here when you’re ready.
Have you been the safe place for someone’s story? Would you like to share your story within the youB community?