National Coming Out Day set for October 11

by Terry Lee Derrick
Staff writer

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is a celebration of the first march on Washington in October 1987 by GLBT people to promote visibility and equality. The first NCOD was October 11, 1988.

Safely coming out to family, friends and others to bring greater visibility and understanding to everyone is what this day encourages.

A week-long set of activities have been set by the Rainbow Awareness Project of Knoxville beginning Oct. 6 and ending with a march and rally on Saturday Oct. 15. Chris Beckman from MTV’s The Real World will speaking on coming out. A full schedule of the Knoxville events can be found at

The National Coming Out Project of Dallas is sponsoring a signature drive wherein all the signatures will be published in the Dallas Morning News along with articles and some faces of the community. Sixteen pages will be devoted to the project. The Project was started in 1993 with a news conference of six people— including one of the founders of NCOD, Dr. Rob Eichberg—telling their stories. They have since published names and articles in the Dallas news paper, but this year’s is the largest spread ever.

In Philadelphia, for the last 12 years, there has been a NCOD block party called Outfest in the “gayborhood,” as they like to say. It has been well attended and very successful with its high heel races and penis shaped bagel eating contests (along with more serious speeches and special political guests). Also, Penn students are quite visible with their attendance and support.

At Yale, that good ole bastion of blue blood gentility, a giant closet door has been erected on campus. All those who wish to come out are encouraged to wear a white t-shirt and jeans and walk through the door, on the other side of which they will be hugged and encouraged by supporters. Students who are already out are also asked to wear a white t-shirt and jeans as a show of solidarity.

The astrological chart on NCOD says it is founded in the sign of Libra, a sign associated with partnerships. It could be called Double Libra Day because both the sun and the moon were in Libra at that time in October 1987. Additionally, there was a mass “wedding ceremony” that day in Washington, so doubling up seemed to be in the stars.

National Coming Out Day is celebrated in many parts of our country, as well as in many other countries. Although this activism and celebration of one’s truth can be wonderful, it isn’t for everyone. Teens, especially, need to consider the person to whom, the time when, and the place where they come out. Sadly, some teens have this choice stolen from them, but those who don’t must keep in mind both their safety and emotional well-being.

In The Personal and the Collective Unconscious, Jung writes, “But even self knowledge, assumed by all wise men to be the best and most efficacious, has different effects on different characters.” Basically, if someone isn’t well-equipped to deal with this self-knowledge, then it could be self-destructive. And so it is with the most important step in the coming out process: the acknowledgment of one’s true sexuality. For those who are prepared both emotionally and mentally, coming out can be a tremendously liberating experience. But no matter how positive our coming out experience may have been, and no matter how much being open and honest has improved our lives, we cannot but respect each other, allowing everyone to make and embrace such a life-changing decision at her or his own pace. We can, and should, only be the lighthouse, lighting the way for those lost at sea. Should they choose to follow the light, we must be here to guide them home. And even if they choose otherwise, we have to remain here, waiting patiently, a shining example, a path, for one day they will seek out the shore.

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