Introduction – National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is the United States and international event, observed annually on October 11 since 1988, to celebrate coming out and the LGBTQ+ community.
October 11 got selected because it is both National Coming Out Day and Anne Frank’s birthday. She had spent two years in hiding before she eventually died at age 15 of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In her diary, she wrote about her realization that she was gay, or as she called it, “the terrible truth” of being a “degenerate girl,” but still hoped for a future where people would understand each other better.
How it’s Celebrated
Participants are encouraged to come out to friends, family, coworkers, and peers to recognize the day. Coming OUT is a powerful statement to make for yourself, your extended community, and the LGBTQ+ movement!
People come out in many different ways: some share a personal story—their own experiences with identity or coming out; while others write social media posts sharing their support of the LGBTQ+ community. There are also workshops held on college campuses across the country that help people do ally development.
It’s important to note that many labels within this acronym include genderqueer, agender, Two-Spirit, nonbinary, pansexual, bisexual/biromantic/demisexual, questioning, queer, etc. Each person has their way of identifying themselves, and it is never okay to assume. This acronym is constantly evolving and changing, so it’s essential to be respectful of others’ identities by offering your pronouns when asked for them.
Who Celebrates National Coming Out Day
Different countries and cultures celebrate National Coming Out Day. Each nation has its way of recognizing it. These events may take place in schools, churches, and organizations.
The Human Rights Campaign is one of the larger organizations to have a statement declaring National Coming Out Day on October 11, 1990.
- They describe it as “a time for all Americans to reflect on their shared history of discrimination that lead LGBTQ Americans to live lives of secrecy.”
- Their website provides information about how people can participate via social media initiatives or hosting an event locally.
Countries that celebrate National Coming Out Day are Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, and South Africa.
National Coming Out Day is often celebrated in America, with a giant rainbow flag being flown from NASA’s headquarters in Florida. This has been a tradition since 2010 when President Barack Obama ordered the flag be flown in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the gay rights movement.
In 2014, that same flag was flown from the very top of the headquarters by a group of civil servants who were sick and tired of being told what to do. Well done! There’s nothing in NASA regulations about flags or Presidential proclamations, so after getting approval from their sensible supervisors, they went ahead and did it.
The official website for the European Parliament had the following to say about National Coming Out Day on October 11: “Since 1988 on October 11 has been celebrated as ‘National Coming Out day’ in many countries around the world. It was established by American born gay rights activist Robert Eichberg to combat homophobia.” They also include a link for anyone interested in participating via social media or attending an event in their country.
South African President Jacob Zuma congratulated South Africans for celebrating National Coming Out Day on October 11 during his 2018 State of the Nation address. He encouraged the nation to accept all people no matter their race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Brazilian LGBT website “G Magazine” celebrated National Coming Out Day on October 11 by posting an article sharing personal stories from gay celebrities that were all out of the closet long before they became very famous. Their article includes interviews with singers Ana Carolina and Daniela Mercury, TV presenter/journalist Léo Jaime, UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos, model Rômulo Arantes Neto and actor Diogo Cintra among others.
The Mexican National Association of Gays, Lesbians, Transsexuals, and Bisexuals (ANUC in Spanish) held a National Coming Out Day event at their headquarters on October 11. During the event, they revealed the results of an online poll where 96% of participants said that being gay doesn’t define them. The organization’s president Jo Shauran announced that this poll’s findings would be shared with UNESCO to consider when developing their International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia initiatives.
The LGBT-Friendly Youth Association in Hungary celebrated National Coming Out Day by hosting an awareness-raising event on October 11 for World AIDS Day at the Gozsdu Manó Klub. They also had a special presentation about Gay Parenting during the evening.
The LGBT Artists Association of Hungary celebrated National Coming Out Day on October 11 by holding their first Zsolt Péter Németh Award at the Gozsdu Manó Klub. The award is named after the current UNCHR Goodwill Ambassador and Dora Award nominee who is openly gay. The association awarded musician/producer Áron Kiss, coming out anthem singer Dalma “Dolly” Szakács, author Mihály Edvi Illés and writer Zsolt Nyáry with this honor for their contributions to the local community.
Talks+Café celebrated National Coming Out Day on October 11 at Budapest Pride House, Fruska Torkolat. They announced the results of an online poll where 96% of participants said that being gay doesn’t define them. The organization’s president, Zsombor Szabó stated, “This is very important for us because it shows how normalized coming out has become in our society.” He then said that this poll’s findings would be shared with UNESCO to consider when developing their International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia initiatives.
This year, take some time to reflect on the LGBTQ+ movement and your identity by participating in National Coming Out Day!
To take the online pledge and join the movement: http://www.hrc.org/ and to read about Anne Frank’s journey: https://www.annefrank.com/en