All across the country, queer Americans and our allies are celebrating National Coming Out Day today. October 11 of 2019 marks the 32nd anniversary since the National March on Washington for lesbian and gay rights in 1987 and the 31st year since the day was established as a form of positive retaliation against the government’s anti-LGBTQ action.
Three decades later, as certain rights have been granted and certain rights have continued to remain aloof, we celebrate the strength of the community despite discrimination, adversity, and violence.
Coming out is an individual choice, and for each person who identifies within the LGBTQ community, there are many reasons why coming out can either feel like an option early on or not an option at all. Though it may seem counterintuitive to say, there are many places in the U.S., and the world, where coming out as queer is simply unsafe. We acknowledge that; we value that safety above all else matters, and we are ready to embrace and accept those people when they are ready.
As queer media, we exist solely to tell stories of LGBTQ folks and to challenge the narrative of what is believed about the community. OUT FRONT has fought for 43 years to be on the ground and in the spaces where queer folks reside. Giving pages to the words of the trailblazers and providing images of what LGBTQ identity looks like, we have been able to reflect the community back to itself when the process of coming out can feeling gut-wrenchingly isolating.
On the heels of the LGBTQ Town Hall where democratic candidates discussed solely queer issues, we couldn’t have imagined 43 years ago, 32 years ago, or even ten years ago, that U.S. presidential hopefuls would be speaking to us about their promises of protections and specifically speaking to the most vulnerable within our community, our queer youth.
As we know, 38 percent of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered suicide, according to The Trevor Project. Not shying away from the brutal facts of the reality that queer youth are suffering, Amit Paley, CEO & executive director of The Trevor Project, posed a question Senator Kamala Harris at the Town Hall in LA:
“LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide as their peers. How will your administration address the challenge of LGBTQ youth suicide?”
Sen. Harris’ response included creating safe environments for LGBTQ youth in unstable housing situations, education systems, and who are in foster care. She also mentioned addressing mental health via policy and removing secretary of education Betsy DeVos.
“Tonight’s town hall showed LGBTQ young people across the country that their identities are valid, that their votes matter, and that officials at the highest level of our government are thinking about the topics that are important to them,” said Paley. “It was inspiring to see so much passion for supporting LGBTQ youth on stage and in the audience tonight, and The Trevor Project was honored to be a part of the first-ever conversation around LGBTQ youth suicide in a presidential forum this cycle.”
As we continue to expand the conversation from “We’re here; we’re queer; get used to it,” to “LGBTQ folks deserve the same rights as their cis, straight counterparts,” the coming out stories are still as relevant as ever.
When we can see queer visibility, when our stories are reflected back to us, when our struggles are validated, we understand that each and every one is simply on a human journey of self-acceptance and self-love.
We see you. We hear you. We want to keep telling your stories. Thank you for your bravery, fam.
*Featured image from The Gender Spectrum Collection