Every year on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day is observed to recognize LGBTQIA+ individuals for coming out to their friends and family. For those unaware of the term coming out, it can be defined as an LGBTQIA+ individual telling someone their sexual orientation.
Founded in 1988, National Coming Out Day was created by Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary as a way for gay and lesbian people to feel free about coming out to their friends and family. Oct. 11 was chosen because it was the one year anniversary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. In the time since the creation of National Coming Out Day, nine out of 10 LGBTQIA+ youth are out to their close friends according to The Human Rights Campaign. The average age for coming out for millennials was around 18, while the Himan average age for members of Gen X coming out was 23 according to Bespoke Surgical. In a poll conducted by Gallup, support for gay marriage went up from 35% in 1989 to 73% in 20192. However, there have been setbacks in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights.
As of the publication of this article, a law is in effect that bars transgender people from serving or enlisting in the United States military. The ban is a reversal on a 2016 decision by former president Barack Obama that allowed transgender people to serve and enlist in the military.
There is also a case in the Supreme Court being heard on whether or not someone can be fired based on sexual orientation. Under current law, people cannot be fired for their sexual orientation according to Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Additionally, according to a poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, 42% of LGBTQIA+ youth said their communities are not supportive of LGBTQIA+ people. In another study conducted by The Human Rights Campaign, 26% of LGBTQIA+ youth feel they cannot be open about their orientation and worry about being accepted by their families. The same study also found that LGBTQIA+ youth are also twice as likely to be physically assaulted compared to their straight peers.
So what can be done to promote a more inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ people coming out? Being accepting of those who come out is a great way to be inclusive. Being an ally removes hostility from an already challenging experience. Another way inclusivity can be promoted would be by not asking someone why they are LGBTQIA+. Rather, ask the person coming out what you can do to promote a safe environment. With suicide being the second leading cause of death for LGBTQIA+ youth according to The Trevor Project 3, having a safe and friendly coming out environment is crucial for the health and safety of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
If you would like to get involved with the LQBTQIA+ community, the Rainbow Center is a great place to visit. Located on the fourth floor of the Student Union, the Rainbow Center’s mission, which is stated on its website, is to “operate in the service of a more equitable world for all students, faculty and staff at the University of Connecticut.” They are open on Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 860-486-5821 or by email at email@example.com.
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.