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Celebrating National Coming Out Day: A message from the vice president of DEI

University News | 10.11.23

Dear Adlerians,

Today is National Coming Out Day, a day of support for those “coming out of the closet.”  Psychologist Robert Eichberg, Ph.D., and Jean O’Leary, a lesbian activist and leader of the National Gay Rights Advocates, chose not to confront anti-LGBTQ+ actions with negativity. Instead, they created National Coming Out Day (NCOD) as a positive affirmation of LGBTQ+ culture.   

One of the most powerful forms of activism is for a person to live their life authentically. The NCOD founders believed that homophobia would diminish as people became more aware of the LGBTQ+ people in their inner circle of family and friends. First celebrated on Oct. 11, 1988, the date was chosen to commemorate the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights held on Oct. 11, 1987.

Coming out is an act of personal resistance and liberation. One of the more challenging aspects of a coming out journey can be for a person to come out to themself.  For some, coming out is an act of resistance — pushing back against patterns of silence and shame that may have haunted a person since childhood.

Coming out doesn’t just happen once. It’s a lifelong process that is done repeatedly by coming out to families, friends, neighbors, schools, co-workers, and communities. Therefore, if a person moves, attends a new school, or starts a new job, they make a choice as to whether or not to come out again and live life authentically. 

Coming out is political. Although there have been political gains regarding LGBTQ+ legal rights, there is still work to be done. This is particularly true regarding the rights of transgender and gender-expansive people, BIPOC communities, and others who identify as LGBTQ+. Elected officials and those vying for office remind us that progress should not be taken for granted.

Coming out is an individual process. It is a powerful tool of personal and political change. However, no one has a right to tell a person if, when, or how to come out — even on National Coming Out Day. Although coming out is often a liberating experience, it can be a difficult one. National Coming Out Day isn’t designed to pressure people to come out. It honors an individual’s unique identity by providing an opportunity to share it (if desired) at a pace that meets their needs. 

Allies play an important role: For many in the LGBTQ+ community, coming out is a stressful and frightening decision. This is where support from friends, family members, and co-workers can help. Remember that allyship is an action. So, speak out and take the initiative to learn, not just on National Coming Out Day or Pride Month, but throughout the year.

For more information on coming out, here is a list of resources available to the LGBTQ+ community:

It Gets Better Project 
Marsha P. Johnson Institute 
PFLAG 
Trevor Project 
Coming Home: To Faith, To Spirit, To Self 
Indian Health Services  
Coming Out: Living Authentically as Black LGBTQ People 
Coming Out Living Authentically as LGBTQ Latinx Americans 
Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Americans 
Coming Out as Bisexual 
Coming Out: Living Authentically as Transgender or Non-Binary

Sincerely,

Kahan Sablo, D.Ed.
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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