12 Oct National Coming Out Day: Your Story Matters
National Coming Out Day is celebrating a 30-year anniversary. I sent some ideas to a writer recently for a piece on how wedding vendors can be inclusive of LGBTQ clients. A topic near and dear to my heart. She said she needed input prior to October 11th because the piece was for National Coming Out Day. This wasn’t on my radar (gaydar?) to be perfectly honest.
What is National Coming Out Day?
- Annual LGBTQ awareness day observed on October 11th.
- Founded in the United States in 1988.
- Grounded in the spirit feminism and gay liberation of the personal being political; to be visible by voluntarily coming out.
- Expanded to include coming out as bisexual, transgender, and genderqueer.
So….30 years. Wow. Especially when I realized that this is my own 30-year coming out anniversary. My coming out happened in stages like most. It was not one big glorious “Hooray, I’m here!” with Ellen DeGeneres handing me a gilded toaster.
Usually my go-to method of operating is awkward and weird. Therefore, my coming-out was no different. Think Jodie Foster’s life time achievement/coming out speech at the Academy Awards. Cringe-worthy. Stammering, tears, and in some cases, I must admit, a few cocktails.
Yet out I came. First, I told my sister. Then, a friend, a few people at work, and so on culminating with my mother. Mom was the last to know and the hardest to tell. She became more accepting in stages. From trying to set me up with men when I was in a long-term relationship to being ok with civil unions. Finally, she was seen crying at my wedding 17 years later (99.8% sure they were tears of joy). A tricky road that often had detours into homophobia.
While it could have been better. It could have been a lot worse. I was physically safe at every turn which is not the case for everyone. All stories are unique and important. Visibility is important.
Benefits of Coming Out
- Honesty about a key part of your humanity lightens your mental load.
- Deeper connections with friends, family, partners, and even colleagues as you present your authentic self.
- Higher levels of self-acceptance and self-respect by dealing with internalized homophobia.
- Knowledge that your visibility helps to normalize non-heterosexual ways of being.
- Lower levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout.
Coming out is an important life stage. That said, it does not need to be rushed. Above all, safety and financial independence is important. For example, parents who don’t support you or living in an area that is dangerous for LGBTQ people. Fortunately, I live in an area of town that’s safe and for the most part I’m accepted. The same goes for work because therapists tend to be a warm and accepting bunch!
Unfortunately, we still live in a time where some push to legalize discrimination of the LGBTQ community. I work with clients regularly, from their 20’s to their 60’s, who deal with family members who don’t accept them or their relationships. We have a long way to go. If you need help on your path, I am here. You matter and your story matters.
Happy National Coming Out Day! I see you.
Kate Murphy, LMSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Berkeley Lake, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.