Metro Weekly

National Coming Out Day celebrates its 30th anniversary

Celebrities, politicians, and LGBTQ organizations showed their support for the LGBTQ community

Credit: Ted Eytan / Flickr

LGBTQ organizations and celebrities are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day by highlighting their efforts to create safe, welcoming environments where LGBTQ people can live openly as their authentic selves.

To commemorate the day, which occurs every year on Oct. 11, the Human Rights Campaign launched a digital campaign highlighting inspirational stories of celebrities and social media influencers who have come out over the past year, including Janelle MonáeKehlaniBex Taylor-KlausBrendon UrieAlyson Stoner, and others.

Stephanie Beatriz — an actress and Argentinian-American immigrant who is bisexual, joined the Human Rights Campaign for an #HRCTwitterTakeover, where she talked about her life experience being a Latina bisexual actress and fielded questions from the Twittersphere. 

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, HRC’s educational arm, also launched several resources to help support individuals in their coming out journeys.

“Coming out can be one of the most courageous acts an LGBTQ person makes, and that courage is inextricably tied to our continued progress toward full equality,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “Visibility matters, and research shows that when people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support full equality under the law. Coming out and sharing our stories is essential to advancing LGBTQ equality and fighting back against attempts to turn back the clock on our progress.”

Throughout the day, other celebrities have been tweeting about National Coming Out Day to give hope to LGBTQ people who may feel alone or alienated, either because of a lack of acceptance or personal struggles with their sexual orientation.

Social media influencer Jessie Paege tweeted: “A little over 3 months ago, I came out online and [to] others in real life. I was told it was a BAD idea. I lost followers that had been with me since Day 1. But, I’m proud. If you don’t accept my sexuality, you don’t accept me. Be proud.”

Troye Sivan shared a video talking about his own coming out story while also plugging his upcoming film, Boy Erased, which tells the story of a Baptist preacher’s son, his struggle with his homosexuality, and his eventual enrollment in a conversion therapy program.

“National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly,” Sivan says in the video. “I came out when I was 15, and it was the most pivotal moment in my entire life. Speaking up changes hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality.”

Actress Tyne Daly added her voice to the chorus of celebrities, tweeting: “In accordance with one of my favorite old mantras, be yourself — everyone else is taken.”

Several people in the political arena also celebrated the day, with three LGBTQ groups for Capitol Hill staffers — the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, the Senate GLASS Caucus, and Library of Congress GLOBE — coming together for an annual photo showing and celebrating some of the LGBTQ employees who help our national government function.

Members of GLASS, GLOBE and LGBT CSA pose for their annual National Coming Out Day photo. – Photo courtesy of LGBT CSA.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) posted a message to Twitter, writing: “It takes bravery to tell the world who you are. This #NationalComingOutDay, know that no matter who you are or who you love, there are people who will support you.”

“In honor of #NationalComingOutDay, I commit to continue being an ally in the fight for equality, and commend the bravery of all individuals who have come out as LGBTQ,” added Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), one of six current openly LGBTQ members of the U.S. House of Representatives, marked the day by tweeting: “As the 1st openly gay person of color elected to Congress, I’m lifting the voices of the LGBTQ community and fighting for the rights of all people. Your journey is your own, so when—and if—you decide to come out, know that a loving community stands with you.”

Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, whose son Tyler committed suicide after he became the victim of homophobic cyberbullying, released her own statement in honor of the day.

“Coming Out Day should be a day of celebration; a day when LGBTQ people are able to publicly and confidently share who they are and who they love. But for many young people, the decision to come out as LGBTQ would be a choice that could leave them rejected by their families, condemned by their faith communities, expelled from school and quite possibly even without a home,” Clementi said.

“The Tyler Clementi Foundation salutes the schools, teams and youth groups that celebrate Coming Out Day and who lift up and embrace their peers who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming or queer,” she added. “We call on young people to be Upstanders who can make their friends, classmates and teammates feel safe to be themselves. We call on parents to remember that their decision to embrace their child who is LGBTQ could be the difference between life and death.”

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

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