Metro Weekly

HRC releases video of celebrities’ coming out stories for National Coming Out Day

Other organizations plan to issue statements to celebrate the importance of coming out as LGBTQ

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has released a video highlighting the coming out stories of 15 celebrities and activists to recognize National Coming Out Day.

Among those featured in the video are Tony Award-winning actress Sara Ramirez, Gloria Carter, the mother of rapper and business mogul Jay-Z, and WNBA star Sue Bird. HRC is also featuring individual videos for each of those three women, as well as for singers Lauren Jauregui and Jake Zyrus, actors Daniel Newman and Keiynan Londsale, and actress Natalie Morales, to highlight their personal stories.

Other celebrities featured in the larger 15-person video include actor Haaz Sleiman, former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant and YouTube personality Gia Gunn, actor Robin Lord Taylor, and singer Barry Manilow.

The organization also released updated editions of its Coming Out Guide, which provide tips for people on what to expect when coming out and how to deal with others’ reactions, in both English and Spanish, to coincide with the video release.

“Coming out is one of the most courageous acts any LGBTQ person makes, and on this National Coming Out Day, that courage remains essential to our continued progress toward full equality,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “As LGBTQ people across the nation and around the world continue to come out, opposition to equality will continue to crumble. Sharing our stories is a key way each of us can fight back against attempts to turn back the clock on LGBTQ equality.”

In 2014, Griffin wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times detailing the story of a decade-long effort to write a letter to his father coming out as gay, and his regret at never having sent the letter prior to his father’s death. By highlighting the coming out stories of those featured in the videos, HRC hopes to inspire LGBTQ people to find the courage within themselves to publicly come out and live their lives on their own terms. 

HRC is not the only organization to recognize Coming Out Day and the significance of how being “out” can help change the political and social landscape in favor of greater equality for LGBTQ people. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and the organization’s LGBT Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes issued their own statement touching on those themes.

“Today, on National Coming Out Day, we celebrate the fact that love is love and are resolute in our belief that all people deserve to be treated with dignity,” the statement reads. “We remember a time not long ago when living openly as a member of the LGBTQ community was nearly impossible. And we honor those who have fought and struggled to advance the cause of true equality. Even more importantly, we welcome and embrace those who are openly LGBTQ, those who choose to come out today, and those who are still unable to live openly.”

Both HRC and the DNC have been highly critical of the Trump administration, accusing the president, Vice President Mike Pence, and several cabinet members or nominees for high-ranking positions of adopting positions or policies that are openly hostile toward the LGBTQ community. Both organizations have also vowed to fight the current administration “tooth and nail.” HRC recently launched HRC Rising, which is a multifaceted campaign aimed at opposing any attempts by the government to reverse progress on LGBTQ equality.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, issued a tweet in honor of the day, writing: “Happy National Coming Out Day. Today marks me living more years out than in & I can say that life is so much better in the light and truth.”

Dylan Kohere, an 18-year-old ROTC student at the University of New Haven and one of the plaintiffs challenging the Trump administration’s transgender military ban in the case of Doe v. Trump, penned a piece on the Huffington Post in honor of National Coming Out Day. In the piece, Kohere explained how the proposed ban has left him unable to train with his fellow ROTC cadets and has disrupted his plans for his future.

“I’m coming forward because too many others cannot,” Kohere wrote. “They are being forced to conceal their identities while putting their lives on the line for our country, fearing that doing so will be used against them, ending their military career and uprooting their lives.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser released her own statement recognizing the day.

“In Washington, D.C., our diversity alone does not make us great, our celebration and embrace of our diversity does,” Bowser said. “Particularly during a time when many LGBTQ people feel like their rights and liberties are being threatened, it is important that we seize these opportunities to celebrate and elevate the voices of LGBTQ people in DC and around the world…

“Each year, National Coming Out Day provides our community the opportunity to celebrate and highlight the triumphs and struggles of LGBTQ people, and we are grateful for and proud of all who share their stories. Today and every day, my Administration remains steadfastly committed to promoting our D.C. values, fighting for LGBTQ rights, and uplifting the people and stories that inspire us and motivate us to continue building a more inclusive city.”

 
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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com