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National Coming Out Day

October 11th is National Coming Out Day, celebrated by the LGBTQIA+ community to acknowledge the weight of identifying oneself as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc. When a person comes out, they open themselves up to support from their community and allies, but also to potential homophobia and/or transphobia. This day serves as a recognition of that brave step in the name of being seen.

Coming out is a personal choice – one that can be made for countless different reasons. People come out to align themselves with a community and find support, to share more of themselves with loved ones, to live life as their fuller self, to bring awareness to the existence of non-normative sexualities and gender identities. The list goes on. It’s also important to note that coming out is not a requirement, and some people may also choose to keep their identities to themselves for the sake of privacy and safety.

A common misconception about coming out is that a person has one “coming out” moment, and then they are officially “out,” free from the confines of cisheteronormativity. In reality, the majority of people have to come out over and over again as they encounter new people in different contexts. Someone may be out to their friends, but when making a new friend, they are once again assumed to be straight and/or cisgender by this new individual and have to correct this perception to feel understood and seen. It is often not as simple as one announcement.

Making this choice is almost never easy. If you have not had a “coming out” moment, that does not reflect on the validity of your identity. If you have come out, remember the difficulty of making that choice and reflect on all the reasons some people are not yet able to come out. If you have a loved one who has come out to you, or is in the process of coming out, you may be wondering what you can do. One way to support them is to simply acknowledge their strength in making that step. Coming out, while more common now than it once was, still has a major impact on the individual coming out and the people around them. You can help by making it known to them that you are there to support the complicated and often exhausting process of coming out time and time again.

By: Mel Signore

Mental Health Counseling Intern

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