What is NCOD?
October 11, 2012 is National Coming Out Day, celebrated in the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (the latter on October 12th). The purpose of this day is to promote government and public awareness of gay, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual (GBLT) rights and to celebrate homosexuality. On this day, people who may be questioning (Q), or identify as GBLT are encouraged to “come out” and tell those, whom they think will support them, who they really are.
It’s a civil awareness day with a wide variety of support: rallies, parades, and events. You can participate by wearing a classic gay pride symbol to show your allegiance, post a Facebook status or participate in a local event, for example. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sponsors these events under the auspices of their National Coming Out Project offering resources for LGBT individuals.
History of National Coming Out Day
Founded by Robert Eichberg, a New Mexico psychologist and Jean O’Leary, an openly gay political leader from Los Angeles, to commemorate the anniversary of a March for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987 in Washington, D.C. when over a half million people decided to take a stand for LGBT rights.
What to Expect When GLBTQ Comes Out
As a straight supporter, either parent or friend of a GLBTQ person, you may find that when he/she comes out, he/she may be relieved, feel elated, scared, vulnerable, angry, depressed, confused, or e) all of the above. Especially if you’re a parent, you may be experiencing these same emotions once your child’s sexual orientation is divulged.
Whether you’re a classmate, a colleague, a friend, or a relative, your GLBT friend looks to you for the following:
· Unconditional acceptance. He wants to know that you like him just as much as you did before you knew he was GLBT.
· Studies show that family acceptance predicts greater self-esteem, social support, and general health. If you’re a straight parent, make your home a safe place where anything can be discussed.
· Offer support. Tell the person that you’re flattered that he/she entrusted you with this vital truth, knowing you might reject him/her. You might say “thanks for sharing this with me. I’m so happy for you.”
· Help the individual find resources, particularly if they seem unhappy with their orientation. The Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians and Gays), has an on-line guide, either a PDF file or a flip through digital version, which contains advice such as “Dealing with your Feelings when someone Comes Out,” “Ways to Show Your Support,” as well as resources. (http: //www.hrc.org/resources/entry/straight-guide-to-lgbt-Americans)
· Let the GLBT person take the lead. He or she may have something to teach you about LGBT people and also about acceptance and love.
· Don’t out the person to anyone else; it’s not your place to do so and is invasion of their privacy. He or she should tell their own story, to whom they want, when they want.
· If they are questioning and undecided about their sexual orientation, do not try to force them to come to a decision. In time, he or she will realize who they are. “Don’t push, unless he seems to be in real distress.” (See http: //nytimes.com/2012/.../helping-a-gay-child-to-come-out).
· For more tips, see my guest blog for Radical Parenting (http://www.radicalparenting.com/2012/02/12/what-do-you-say-to-your-childs-coming-out/ )