Is it the encouraging song that Glinda The Good Witch sings to the Munchkins? Is it the exciting children’s game of Hide and Seek you just remembered? Or do you feel threatened by the title, and maybe referencing it to an intense scene from a horror movie?
While this might be considered banal, the experience of coming out can be interpreted through the three scenarios that just went through your head – through the various thoughts and emotions one can have every time the subject of coming out is brought up.
Coming Out Day, celebrated on October 11th, is an annual LGBT+ Awareness Day created to support LGBT+ individuals in the process of ”coming out of the closet”. The importance of coming out is founded, on the one hand, the presumption that once people know that they have loved ones who identify as LGBT+, oppressive and excluding ways of treatment would diminish. On the other hand, the need to come out also arises from the pressure of ”compulsory heterosexuality” or heterosexuality from birth (1) where heterosexuality is taken as the norm and leads to non-heterosexuals being seen as abnormal.
Almost 40 years ago, since it was first celebrated, Coming Out Day reminds us about the basic personal need ”to be what I am”, to accept yourself first, and then to be your true self to family, close friends and work colleagues for those LGBT+ individuals who decide to come out. This is the ideal that most strive to achieve; however, different experiences of coming out reminds us that coming out may not always be safe if some other factors are involved.
While coming out is mainly a psychological step, the personal experience of LGBT+ people is influenced by their political situation and is often a result of social structures and forms of inequality, which may bring further discrimination, violence and in some countries even persecution. These issues must be included when discussing the topic. As we approach Coming Out Day 2021, let’s remember that it is about ending stigma and encouraging LGBT+ people to live authentically in above all a safe environment that accepts people for who they are.
Reference 1 (Rich, 1980)