October is LGBTQ History Month and we’re waving our multi-colored lipsticks up high in support! Unlike Pride Month which is celebrated in June, LGBTQ History Month coincides with National Coming Out Day, celebrated on October 11. Some of you may be wondering: Wait, what’s the difference? Fear not, readers. I’m here to tell you all you need to know about the history of this month, what it celebrates, and how you can show your support for the LGBTQ community!
What is National Coming Out Day?
National Coming Out Day is an annual LGBTQ awareness holiday dedicated to members of the community and their freedom to own their sexual identities. It is a day to honor and support those who have come out, plan to come out, or are struggling to come out to friends and family.
The History of National Coming Out Day
On October 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights. It is because of this momentous occasion that members of the LGBTQ community decided to observe it as a holiday the following year. Rob Eichberg, a psychologist, and Jean O’Leary, a gay rights activist, were the two responsible for this idea. Although it was narrowly celebrated in 1988, by 1990 National Coming Out Day was recognized in all 50 states! It is a day of celebration, love, and inclusivity for those inside and out of the LGBTQ community.
Celebrity Coming-out Stories
During an interview with Paper magazine, Miley Cyrus shared a conversation between her and her mother Tish Cyrus about coming to terms with her sexuality at age 14. "I remember telling her I admire women in a different way. And she asked me what that meant. And I said 'I love them. I love them like I love boys.' And it was so hard for her to understand," She went on to say that while both her parents did not understand her at first, they came around. Cyrus, who identifies as pansexual, admitted that her journey was not always so clear cut.
"My whole life, I didn't understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word bisexual because that's even putting me in a box. I don't ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl. I think the LGBTQ alphabet could continue forever. But there’s a “P” that should happen, for ‘pansexual’…once I understood my gender more, which was unassigned, then I understood my sexuality more.”
Our next celeb had to come out not once, but twice! In a video titled “One Stride, Many Journey’s" created by Barefoot and Out, Cox recalled her rollercoaster ride by saying: “I have kind of two coming outs. I came out to my mom first as gay my sophomore year, and she freaked out. And then, when I came out to my mother as trans a few years later, it was after I started my medical transition, she took that easier," Cox said. "This time I was living in NY, I was supporting myself, and so she never said, ‘I don’t want you in my life.' It was just that she didn’t understand and she had issues with the pronoun thing and the name change; it was just like, ‘Girl, you gotta get this together.'" With time, Cox’s mother came to show her support by gifting her a plate with "No. 1 Daughter" written on it.
Jonathan Van Ness
In an interview with Out Magazine, Jonathan Van Ness got candid about his identity. “The older I get, the more I think that I’m non-binary — I’m gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman.” He went on to say, “I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It’s this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to.”
Although he prefers the pronouns he/him, Van Ness identifies as “genderqueer.” It is important to him that anyone struggling with their identity feels that they can express themselves the way he has learned to.
Here are some resources to show your support for the LGBTQ community on National Coming Out Day and everyday!
The National Center for Transgender Equality
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