Each October, institutions across the nation celebrate LGBTQ History Month and National Coming Out Week. National Coming Out Day, October 11, marks the anniversary of the 1987 LGBT March on Washington and gives communities the opportunity to recognize the vibrant, unique contributions of LGBTQ people in their lives. National Coming Out Day is a remarkable reminder of how far individuals, institutions, and our nation have come with regards to recognizing the rights of LGBTQ individuals, while also bringing to focus the work that still remains.
The community of the LGBT Campus Center would like to invite you to participate in our celebrations throughout the month. A full list of programs and events with descriptions can be found on our October event page. Don’t miss the Julio Salgado keynote on Tuesday, October 18!
It is not uncommon for students to use the occasion of National Coming Out Day to disclose their LGBTQ identities to their families, friends, roommates, or other important people in their lives. Whether they are coming out again or for the first time, we’d like to offer the following resources and tips:
— When someone comes out to you, an appropriate response is always “thank you.” Whether you feel like you’ve “known” for a while or if the information comes as a surprise, thanking the person for their disclosure and asking “Is there any way I can support you?” indicates your willingness to be a resource. Avoid assuming that they are struggling or are depressed about their LGBTQ identity. Take this opportunity to celebrate this important step with them.
— People may come out in very public ways like posts on social media, particularly Facebook. In cases of social media, information about someone coming out may be met with harmful online comments and have ripple affects that may not have been considered. For example, a person who comes out on Facebook may not have fully considered who might be able to see the post or comment, like co-workers, previous or current classmates, or family members. When you see the person next, react with affirmation or, if it’s appropriate for you to do so, comment on the post in a manner that communicates acceptance and encouragement.
— Remember that coming out is a process and that person will likely have to choose to whom and the right time to come out to family, friends, co-workers, classmates, roommates, and others. Many times, people choose to be out in one context or setting in their life, but not in another. As you can imagine, this can be very stressful. It is important to affirm to people that the process and journey of coming out is independent of timelines, deadlines, or spans of time and that there is no “wrong way” to come out.
— Layers of intersecting identities, like race/ ethnicity, immigration status, socio-economic status, dis/ability status, and religious/ faith identification make each coming out experience unique. Coming out looks different to each person; similarly, reactions, responses, and resources can be different.
— The experiences of trans people are vastly different than someone who is coming out in their sexual orientation identity. Even if you do not have experience supporting someone who is disclosing their trans identity to you, rely on your skills as a active listener, good friend, and ready resource to help support that person.
— There are many resources that you may pass on and reference, including many handouts on the LGBT Campus Center website, lgbt.wisc.edu. Please visit our site, our Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for the most up to date information.
Lastly, please join us today, Tuesday, October 11, from 11:00am-2:00pm to celebrate National Coming Out Day, grab a rainbow donut and “come out” of our big purple door!
On, Wisconsin and with pride –
Gabe Javier, Katherine Charek Briggs, Sheltreese McCoy, Tiffany Lee
and the LGBT Campus Center community