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Everyone’s Coming Out Day Deserves to be Celebrated

By Ellyn Ruthstrom, Executive Director of SpeakOUT

National Coming Out Day can be a significant moment for LGBTQ+ people who are newly empowered to step forward about their sexual orientation or their gender identity. On that day, you can feel like the whole community is welcoming you with open arms and cheering just for you! And we are. We know the courage it takes to make that choice to live authentically and to reveal deeply personal parts of yourself to important people in your life. Each person’s journey is different and whether you are 14 or 74, we all deserve to be celebrated and welcomed into the community.

National Coming Out Day also provides a space for folks who have been out for decades to attest to the transformative power of the coming out experience. As those of us who are “tenured” know, you don’t just come out once; you end up having to come out throughout your life whenever you are meeting new people and heading into new environments. It’s a bit like flexing your muscles, and it becomes easier each time you do it. 

SpeakOUT speakers have been venturing into classrooms, boardrooms, auditoriums, public libraries, churches, temples—anywhere we are invited—to share stories about LGBTQ+ lives since 1972. Raising awareness about our lives and answering questions from the audience (“Ask Us Anything” is our motto!) are extremely important parts of our engagements. But many of our speakers volunteer their time and energy for an even more personal reason. They know how potent a role model can be for someone who hasn’t yet come out. One of the things that our members often say is, “I wish there had been a SpeakOUT when I was growing up. It could have saved me a lot of struggle if I had seen a confident LGBTQ+ adult talking about their life.” And some of our own speakers were originally members of a SpeakOUT audience and felt the impulse to pay it forward by telling their own story to the next generation.

This week, as a lead-up to National Coming Out Day on Sunday, October 11th, SpeakOUT will be sharing our members’ insights about their own coming out experiences and highlighting the power of telling those stories to raise awareness. We have a generous donor who is pledging to match the first $2,500 of donations this week—doubling the impact of your gift! We’ve pivoted during COVID to online engagements and your support today can help us continue our awareness-building work. 

SpeakOUT speakers represent the beautiful spectrum of our LGBTQ+ rainbow, and on National Coming Out Day my hope is that everyone within our community feels the liberation of living true to ourselves.