October is LGBTQ+ History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to history and culture. To mark this month, we’ve put together some interesting facts about National Coming Out Day and its history, which you might not know if you’re not an avid HRC supporter or part of the LGBTQ+ community.
This month is observed as LGBTQ+ History Month in honor of the first march on Washington for LGBT Rights which happened in the month of October 1979. The march was organized by a group called “Homophile Youth Movement” and was attended by about 2000 people.
The month’s significance goes further than just the history behind it; it also celebrates individuals who have made a significant impact on our culture today. October 11 is National Coming Out Day (NCOD) marking the second major National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights. National Coming Out Day is observed worldwide.
Every year the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) chooses a theme for National Coming Out Day
HRC is a civil rights organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. Founded in 1980, HRC is the largest national LGBT advocacy group and has been instrumental in securing equality for the LGBTQ+ community. In 1990, HRC launched its Coming Out Project to encourage individuals to come out as members of the LGBTQ+ community and stand up against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The project’s goal was to educate people on what it means to be out and proud, while also helping those who needed support with their coming-out process.
Over time, this project evolved into NCOD, which now occurs every October 11th (last year’s theme was “Coming Out Still Matters”). Each year since then has seen an ever-increasing number of people celebrating NCOD around the world through events like parades, parties, and rallies — and we’re only just getting started.
In 1987, October was first observed as Lesbian and Gay History Month by historian Professor Ron J Williams Jr., who chose it to coincide with the anniversary of the second March on Washington for lesbian and gay rights. The first official commemoration of LGBT+ History Month took place in Los Angeles County in 1992, during which time its observance expanded to other parts of the country.
The HRC chose this month to celebrate National Coming Out Day to commemorate the March on Washington that took place on October 11, 1987.
The march was a protest to demand LGBTQ rights and equality. It followed the failure of President Ronald Reagan to sign an executive order barring discrimination based on sexual orientation in federal government hiring practices.
While it is not known if any transgender people attended the march, there were certainly many who were present in D.C. at that time.
Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month
Celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month by getting involved in the community. Participate in events and activities that celebrate the history, culture, and identity of those who identify as LGBTQ+. If you have any questions about what is going on in your area, check out websites like Pride.com or contact your local LGBTQ center.
HRC designated October 11 as National Coming Out Day because it fell on a Sunday, making it a day off work for many people and providing them with more time to come out at a pace that is comfortable for them. The original date of the celebration was October 12, but since 1988 this date has been celebrated on October 11.
It’s important to note that there is still a long way to go before all members of the LGBTQ+ community feel safe, welcomed, and respected in our society. The fact that so many people feel empowered enough today to come out and live their lives openly as who they are shows just how far we’ve come.
Written by Sheena Robertson
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Top and Featured Image Courtesy of carpathiar’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License