National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day
Logo ncod lg.png
NCOD logo designed by Keith Haring
Observed byLGBT community
TypeNational, International
ObservancesComing out
DateOctober 11
Next timeOctober 11, 2019 (2019-10-11)
FrequencyAnnual
Related to1987 March on Washington

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an annual LGBT awareness day observed on October 11 and 12 in some parts of the world.[1] Founded in the United States in 1988, the initial idea was grounded in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, and the emphasis on the most basic form of activism being coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person.[2] The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views.[3]

In more recent years, the idea of the "lesbian and gay community" has been largely subsumed into the idea of the LGBT community, and the idea of "coming out" expanded to include not only the voluntary self-disclosure of a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation, but also that of transgender, genderqueer, or other non-mainstream gender identity.[1]

History

NCOD was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O'Leary. Eichberg, who died in 1995 of complications from AIDS, was a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience. O'Leary was an openly lesbian political leader and long-time activist from New York, and was at the time the head of the National Gay Rights Advocates in Los Angeles.[3] LGBT activists, including Eichberg and O'Leary, did not want to respond defensively to anti-LGBT action because they believed it would be predictable. This caused them to found NCOD in order to maintain positivity and celebrate coming out.[1] The date of October 11 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.[1]

Most people think they don't know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.

– Robert Eichberg, in 1993[3]

Initially administered from the West Hollywood offices of the National Gay Rights Advocates, the first NCOD received participation from eighteen states, garnering national media coverage. In its second year, NCOD headquarters moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and participation grew to 21 states. After a media push in 1990 NCOD was observed in all 50 states and seven other countries. Participation continued to grow and in 1990 NCOD merged their efforts with the Human Rights Campaign.[1]

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