National Coming Out Day

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National Coming Out Day
Logo ncod lg.png
NCOD logo designed by Keith Haring
Observed by LGBT community
TypeNational, International
Observances Coming out
Date October 11
Next timeOctober 11, 2019 (2019-10-11)
FrequencyAnnual
Related to 1987 March on Washington

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an annual LGBT awareness day observed on October 11. [1] Founded in the United States in 1988, the initial idea was grounded in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, and the emphasis on the most basic form of activism being coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person. [2] The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views. [3]

LGBT Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons

LGBT, or GLBT, is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In use since the 1990s, the term is an adaptation of the initialism LGB, which was used to replace the term gay in reference to the LGBT community beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s. Activists believed that the term gay community did not accurately represent all those to whom it referred.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social gender equality. This includes fighting gender stereotypes and seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.

Contents

In more recent years, the idea of the "lesbian and gay community" has been largely subsumed into the idea of the LGBT community, and the idea of "coming out" expanded to include not only the voluntary self-disclosure of a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation, but also that of transgender, genderqueer, or other non-mainstream gender identity. [1]

Gay liberation state of equality for LGBT people and goal of LGBT rights movement

The gay liberation movement is a social and political movement of the late 1960s through the mid-1980s that urged lesbians and gay men to engage in radical direct action, and to counter societal shame with gay pride. In the feminist spirit of the personal being political, the most basic form of activism was an emphasis on coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person. In this period, annual political marches through major cities, usually held in June were still known as "Gay Liberation" marches. It wasn't until later in the seventies and well into the eighties in smaller communities, that the marches began to be called "gay pride parades." The movement involved the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in North America, South America, Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.

LGBT community loosely defined grouping of LGBT and LGBT-supportive people, organizations and subcultures

The LGBT community or GLBT community, also referred to as the gay community, is a loosely defined grouping of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, LGBT organizations, and subcultures, united by a common culture and social movements. These communities generally celebrate pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality. LGBT activists and sociologists see LGBT community-building as a counterbalance to heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexualism, and conformist pressures that exist in the larger society. The term pride or sometimes gay pride is used to express the LGBT community's identity and collective strength; pride parades provide both a prime example of the use and a demonstration of the general meaning of the term. The LGBT community is diverse in political affiliation. Not all people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender consider themselves part of the LGBT community.

Self-disclosure is a process of communication by which one person reveals information about themself to another. The information can be descriptive or evaluative, and can include thoughts, feelings, aspirations, goals, failures, successes, fears, and dreams, as well as one's likes, dislikes, and favorites.

History

NCOD was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O'Leary. Eichberg, who died in 1995 of complications from AIDS, was a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience. O'Leary was an openly lesbian political leader and long-time activist from New York, and was at the time the head of the National Gay Rights Advocates in Los Angeles. [3] LGBT activists, including Eichberg and O'Leary, did not want to respond defensively to anti-LGBT action because they believed it would be predictable. This caused them to found NCOD in order to maintain positivity and celebrate coming out. [1] The date of October 11 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. [1]

Jean OLeary American Lesbian activist

Jean O'Leary was an American lesbian and gay rights activist. She was the founder of Lesbian Feminist Liberation, one of the first lesbian activist groups in the women's movement, and an early member and co-director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. She co-founded National Coming Out Day.

Psychologist professional who evaluates, diagnoses, treats, and studies behavior and mental processes

A psychologist studies normal and abnormal mental states, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments. To become a psychologist, a person often completes a graduate university degree in psychology, but in most jurisdictions, members of other behavioral professions can also evaluate, diagnose, treat, and study mental processes.

Lesbian Homosexual woman

A lesbian is a homosexual woman. The word lesbian is also used for women in relation to their sexual identity or sexual behavior regardless of sexual orientation, or as an adjective to characterize or associate nouns with female homosexuality or same-sex attraction.

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, in 1993 [3]

Initially administered from the West Hollywood offices of the National Gay Rights Advocates, the first NCOD received participation from eighteen states, garnering national media coverage. In its second year, NCOD headquarters moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and participation grew to 21 states. After a media push in 1990 NCOD was observed in all 50 states and seven other countries. Participation continued to grow and in 1990 NCOD merged their efforts with the Human Rights Campaign. [1]

West Hollywood, California City in California, United States

West Hollywood, commonly referred to as WeHo, is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Incorporated in 1984, it is home to the Sunset Strip. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, its population was 34,399. It is considered one of the most prominent gay villages in the United States.

Santa Fe, New Mexico State capital city in New Mexico, United States

Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and the seat of Santa Fe County.

Human Rights Campaign LGBT civil rights advocacy group

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States. The organization focuses on protecting and expanding rights for LGBT individuals, most notably advocating for marriage equality, anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation, and HIV/AIDS advocacy. The organization has a number of legislative initiatives as well as supporting resources for LGBT individuals.

Observance

National Coming Out Day is observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement. The first decades of observances were marked by private and public people coming out, often in the media, to raise awareness and let the mainstream know that everyone knows at least one person who is lesbian or gay. [1] In more recent years, because coming out as a lesbian or gay man is now far less risky in most Western countries, the day is more of a holiday. Participants often wear pride symbols such as pink triangles and rainbow flags.

Coming out of the closet, often shortened to coming out, is a metaphor for LGBT people's self-disclosure of their sexual orientation or of their gender identity. The term coming out can also be used in various non-LGBT applications.

LGBT social movements social movements that advocate for the equalized acceptance of LGBT people in society

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) social movements are social movements that advocate for LGBT+ people in society. Social movements may focus on equal rights, such as the 2000s movement for marriage equality, or they may focus on liberation, as in the gay liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Earlier movements focused on self-help and self-acceptance, such as the homophile movement of the 1950s. Although there is not a primary or an overarching central organization that represents all LGBT+ people and their interests, numerous LGBT rights organizations are active worldwide. The earliest organizations to support LGBT+ rights were formed in the 19th century.

The gay community has adopted certain symbols for self-identification to demonstrate unity, pride, shared values, and allegiance to one another. LGBT symbols communicate ideas, concepts, and identity both within their communities and to mainstream culture. The two most-recognized international LGBT symbols are the pink triangle and the rainbow flag. The pink triangle, employed by the Nazis in World War II as a badge of shame, was re-appropriated but retained negative connotations. The rainbow flag, previously used as a symbol of unity among all people, was adopted to be a more organic and natural replacement without any negativity attached to it.

National Coming Out Day is also observed in Ireland, [4] Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. [5] In the United States, the Human Rights Campaign sponsors NCOD events under the auspices of their National Coming Out Project, offering resources to LGBT individuals, couples, parents, and children, as well as straight friends and relatives, to promote awareness of LGBT families living honest and open lives. Candace Gingrich became the spokesperson for NCOD in April 1995. [1] From 1999 to 2014 the Human Rights Campaign announced a theme to go with each NCOD: [1]

Candace Gingrich American activist

Candace Gingrich is an American LGBT rights activist at the Human Rights Campaign. Candace is the half-sibling of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who is more than 20 years their senior.

Criticisms

While NCOD has been a celebratory day for the LGBT community, there have been several criticisms on how the holiday perpetuates homonormativity. Preston Mitchum, a black queer writer, wrote an article called "On National Coming Out Day, Don't Disparage the Closet", published in The Atlantic in 2013 that discusses the assumptions that NCOD makes. In the article, Mitchum does not discredit those who have come out, still praising them for their bravery. Instead, he acknowledges how coming out may not always be safe for LGBT people who are a part of multiple marginalized communities. [6] Mitchum also suggests that coming out can lead to hypervisibility for those with intersecting identities, potentially leading to discrimination in the workplace, family exile, violence, and criminalization. [6]

Furthermore, radical feminist Adrienne Rich touches on the reasons people feel the need to come out in her essay "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence," suggesting that it stems from the pressure to adhere to heterosexuality from birth, or compulsory heterosexuality. [7] Rich uses the example that heterosexual people never have to come out as heterosexual, displaying the way that homosexuality is viewed as an anomaly. [7]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "History of Coming Out & Themes of NCOD". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  2. Hoffman, Amy (2007) An Army of Ex-Lovers: My life at the Gay Community News. University of Massachusetts Press. pp.xi–xiii. ISBN   978-1558496217
  3. 1 2 3 "Robert Eichberg, 50, Gay Rights Leader". The New York Times. August 15, 1995.
  4. O'Carroll, Sinead (October 11, 2013). "Today is 'National Coming Out Day'". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  5. Connor, Liz (October 11, 2017). "National Coming Out Day: Advice for parents of LGBTQ teens". London Evening Standard . Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  6. 1 2 Mitchum, Preston (October 11, 2013). "On National Coming Out Day, Don't Disparage the Closet". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  7. 1 2 Rich, Adrienne. "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" (PDF).