National Coming Out Day – October 11, 2006

Every October 11th the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community recognizes National Coming Out Day; a day to celebrate, educate, inform, and stretch in terms of being honest with ourselves and with how we show up in the world. National Coming Out Day was born on Oct. 11, 1987, when half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. A complete historic timeline of important dates along the journey can be found on the HRC website.

This year’s theme is “Talk About It” .
Every time we talk openly and honestly about our lives, we get another step closer to equality. Why? Because studies show that people who personally know someone who is LGBT is more likely to become one of our allies because it puts a face, a person, and a name on the cause. It’s much harder to hate or discriminate against a group when someone you know and care about is a member of that group.

That is the basis of another new website aimed at promoting the conversations of equality. I Am Your Neighbor is a new website that has rallied around the belief that “Its easy to dehumanize people you don’t know”. Their goal, and that of National Coming Out Day is to encourage us to reduce the number of people who don’t know someone who is gay or lesbian. While I must say this whole approach seems to be lost on the high profile politicians (think: Mary Cheney, father Dick, and buddy George W.), it is a sound approach because when we know and like people in our lives, we empathize with and support them. The distant “they” (people they don’t know) becomes “one of us” (people in our lives). The trickle down can be tremendous in the richness of our day to day lives as well as the bigger fight for equality.

The thing about coming out is that you’re never really finished. Everytime you meet someone new or end up in a new situation you have to make the “to come out or not to come out” choice. While no one needs to come out to every Tom, Dick, and Jane that they meet, for professional women or business owners this becomes an issue in every new business situation, especially when part of the responsibility of the position is being “sociable” at events with peers, vendors, suppliers, or co-workers. That is why it is so important for the tide to turn and the lines of communication to constantly open up between us and those we interact with.

Personally I’d never out someone who didn’t want to be, but I do believe the only way to live a truly authentic and fulfilling life is to be honest with yourself and with others. Unless your safety is at stake, my opinion is that it is better to come out than dance around the topic all the time. After all, how many of us ended up coming out after painfully agonizing over it only to realize – DUH, they already knew!

I have create a 10 step process for coming out with confidence that I will be unleashing in the upcoming weeks and months. Meanwhile….. I wish you all a happy National Coming Out Day and challenge YOU to find one new way to be more honest about who you are.

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