Most people think they don't know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes. -- Robert Eichberg
National Coming Out Day is observed annually on October 11 and is a celebratory day for those of the LGBTQIA+ community. It was first celebrated in October 1988 and conceived by LGBTQIA+ activities Robert Eichberg and Jean O'Leary. The goal of National Coming Out Day is to encourage members of the LGBTQIA+ community to collectively "come out" to affirm their identity to the world. Doing so demonstrates that everyone knows at least one queer person and such bringing further importance to the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community. It is currently recognized and celebrated by all 50 states of the US, as well as in Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. National Coming Out Day is overseen by the National Coming Out Project, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign.
Coming out can be seen as a big part of the LGBTQIA+ culture and often is a common milestone in many's personal sexual or gender identity journey. Coming out takes incredible courage and strength. There is no one way of coming out. The coming out process is as unique as each individual, and is never a singular event. Instead, coming out is a sometimes continual occurrence. Folks may face coming out regularly to new friends, partners, family members, doctors, etc. Coming out is never owed or required, but the choice of the individual choosing to share something personal about themselves.
Coming out is a personal decision and many queer folks who are at the intersections of race, religion, disability, etc., may not feel safe to coming out. Given the current environment for LGBTQIA+ people, for which many in the community face blatant discrimination, hate, and violence, it is the choice of many to simply not come out at all. In a sense, the closet is safer than the house it's in. So as we celebrate everyone who has been able to come out, we must also recognize those who cannot or otherwise choose not to.
Recommended reading: "On National Coming Out Day, Don't Disparage the Closet" by Preston Mitchum
National Coming Out Day also occurs in October, which is recognized in the US as LGBTQ History Month. LGBTQ History Month was founded in 1994 and seeks to provide role models, build community, and to recognize the civil rights achievements and contributions of the LGBTQ community.
Check out some of our Staff Picks recommended reading:
Diverse books for children showcasing LGBTQ families. Help children find their family's faces in these children's books. Supports Love, Identity, and Family.
Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month with these titles focused on LGBTQ+ history in the United States and real stories of lived experiences selected by SJPL Librarians.
Expand your perspective or find representation you've been craving with these new-ish reads (published in the past ~3 years) amplifying LGBTQIA+ voices. Revel in these latest stories featuring characters and told by authors identifying as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Selected and curated by SJPL librarians.
And head over to our LGBTQ Resource Page for even more reading lists, blog posts, and helpful links to local LGBTQIA+ resources and organizations.