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National Coming Out Day

Date: 10/01/22

Come Out, Come Out!

October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Established in 1988, National Coming Out Day is a day of visibility and celebration for the LGBTQ+ community. For many people, it’s a day to start or continue their coming out journey. Even now, when LGBTQ+ people are more visible than ever, National Coming Out Day plays an important role in raising awareness and even changes lives.

What is “coming out?”

For an LGBTQ+ person, coming out is a process of accepting and acknowledging their identity, and sharing that identity with others. Just as no two people are exactly the same, no two people have the same coming out experience. It’s important to know that coming out isn’t just a one-time event – because we live in a society that assumes everyone is straight and cisgender (a person who identifies as the same gender they were assigned at birth), most LGBTQ+ people continue to come out to new people throughout their lives. Coming out isn’t “flaunting” any more than a straight person is flaunting when they talk about their lives.

Why is coming out important?

There are as many reasons to come out as there are coming out experiences. If you’re the one coming out, it’s important because:

  • You’re being true to yourself. You’re accepting who you are and opening yourself to living an authentic life and finding happiness and love.

  • Being in the closet can be exhausting – worrying that you’ll say or do something “wrong” takes a lot of energy.

  • You can change minds. Research shows that when someone knows a person who is LGBTQ+, they are more likely to support LGBTQ+ equality.[1]

  • Your visibility can help young LGBTQ+ people see a positive future. Did you know that LGBTQ+ youth are more than 4 times as likely to attempt suicide as their peers, and at least one LGBTQ+ young person attempts suicide every 45 seconds?[2] Seeing successful, out LGBTQ+ adults can help them feel more comfortable and safe.

  • Coming out is good for your mental health, because being your honest self is good for your mental health!

    If someone close to you is coming out, it’s important to you because they’re sharing an important part of themselves with you. They are giving you the opportunity to know them more deeply. And for society it’s important for people to come out so they can stop using all that energy to hide who they are and share their talents with the world!

    How can I come out?

    There isn’t any “right” way to come out. If you’re ready to come out, you should do it in a way that feels right and safe to you. Don’t let anyone pressure you into coming out – it’s your life and your decision. Most people choose to come out first to a friend or family member they’re close to and who they think will have a positive response. Some people talk face-to-face, others send a letter or email. Try to be calm. Generally, it’s better not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    Unfortunately, not everyone responds positively when someone comes out to them. Sometimes, it’s just that the news is surprising, and they’ll feel differently in time. If you’re worried the person might respond in a negative way, try to have a caring person available who can support you.

    How can I be a good ally?

    If someone chooses to come out to you, it means they trust you and feel close to you. You might feel surprised, or you might feel like you’ve “always known”. Either way, being the best ally you can be will make it easier for both of you. Ways to be a good ally include:[3]

    • Respect their decision to tell you. Choosing to come out to someone can be scary. They’ve probably worried about it for a while. Consider thanking them for telling you, and make sure they know you care about them.
    • Listen. Your friend may have a lot to say, and their experiences may be very different from yours. Listen, support, and be available to them.
    • Keep it confidential. This is their story to tell, and they get to decide who hears it. They’ve shown they trust you by telling you, show them you deserve their trust. It’s never ok to “out” someone without their permission – even to someone else who’s LGBTQ+.
    • Put yourself in the background. This discussion is about them, not you. It’s not the time to bring up your religious beliefs or other considerations.
    • Be there. Your friend or family member is the same person they always were. Keep doing the things you’ve always done together and be there as a supportive friend as they continue their coming out process.
    • Be accepting. If you’re an adult and a young person has come out to you, know that having at least one accepting adult in their life can reduce an LGBTQ+ young person’s risk of suicide by 40%.2

    Coming out to your health care providers

    With all the people in your life that you come out to, you might think that your doctor is pretty far down the list. But the truth is that to get the best health care possible you have to be open and honest with your doctor, including about your sexuality. The same is true for your therapist – being LGBTQ+ is an important part of your life and knowing can help your therapist better treat you. If you need a referral to a therapist with experience in LGBTQ+ issues, your EAP can help. 


    [1] HRC Celebrates 31st Annual National Coming Out Day - Human Rights Campaign

    [2] Facts About LGBTQ Youth Suicide – The Trevor Project

    [3] Coming Out | Centers for Educational Justice & Community Engagement (