Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Valentine's Day Bingo
February 24, 2024

Bigger issues beneath why Coming Out Day matters

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You’re scrolling through Facebook, when suddenly you see a post beginning with a phrase like, “Hi friends, I need to talk to you about a thing.”
You click “See More” and read that this person is gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or perhaps a term that you have never heard of before.
Check your calendar. Is it October 11th? Yes? Congratulations! You just read a Coming Out Day post, possibly the first of many depending on the extensiveness of your Facebook friend group.
“But what,” you ask, eyes wide with apprehension, “is Coming Out Day?”
Coming Out Day is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals under the LGBTQIA+ (That’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer,  Intersex, Asexual, etc.) umbrella – that is, people who identify, publically or not, as a gender or sexual minority.
The day originated from the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which occurred on the same day, according to the Human Rights Campaign website.
Meant to celebrate LGBTQIA+ identities in the face of continued discrimination from the government, it’s become common practice for people who want to or are able to share their identity to come out via social media on Coming Out Day.
It seems like a nice idea, and in some ways, it is. People reveal their hidden identities to the people they care about most! Celebrities do it for charity! Everyone comes together to celebrate acceptance and diversity! Hurrah!
While Coming Out Day is a great segway for people who want to come out to their friends and family, but aren’t sure how to broach the subject, it has its flaws as well.
On the low end of the problem spectrum, you have your average Joe who decides it would be funny to “come out” as straight, which is a misappropriation of the day, and an insult to the struggles of LGBTQIA+ people.
Coming out is also a continuous process for most members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Reducing it to a single day can be misleading for those who have never had to experience the question of whether or not to be fully honest about a part of their identity in a specific situation.
On the high end, there’s the fact that, like Pride, it distracts from the more pressing issues that are still very much a problem in today’s society, such as the fact that one third of LGBTQIA+ students report attempting suicide according to Psychology Today.
It’s also true that 48 percent of all LGBTQIA+ students of color have experienced verbal harassment both because of their sexual and/or gender identity, and because of their ethnicity, according to the National Black Justice Coalition. Being out can be dangerous for youth who are in unsupportive environments.
While the celebration of difference and acceptance is important, it’s also crucial that LGBTQIA+ people and their allies focus on the bigger issues at hand, and not lose sight of the goal of social change because of these lighthearted, occasionally frivolous holidays.

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Bigger issues beneath why Coming Out Day matters