October 11 is National Coming Out Day. You can be lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, non-binary, transgender, asexual, queer, or anything in between. It is time to be proud of who you are and your support for queer equality and National Coming Out Day. Over 70% of autistics identify as queer.
This day was inspired by a single march. 500,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987. It gained momentum to last 4 months after the march ended. During this time, over one hundred LGBTQIA+ identifying people gathered outside Washington, DC, and decided on creating a national day to celebrate coming out.
The first National Coming Out day was on October 11, 1988. Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary first proposed the idea of the National Coming Out Day. Eichberg founded a personal growth workshop, The Experience, and O’Leary was the leader of the National Gay Rights Advocates.
Eichberg said the strongest tool in the human rights movement was to illustrate that most people already know and respect someone in the LGBTQIA+ community and the National Coming Out Day helps these people come to light.
He said in an interview, “Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does. It’s imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.”
Over the last 15 years, the Human Rights Campaign has chosen a theme for each National Coming Out Day. 2014 and 2013 were themed “Coming Out Still Matters,” and the first theme (1999) was “Come Out to Congress.”
There have been numerous spokespeople for each National Coming Out Day. They include Fraiser actor Dan Butler and Candace Gingrich, half-sister to Newt Gingrich in the 1990s.
National Coming Out day gains popularity and participants each year. Since its inception, countless public figures and celebrities have openly come out as queer. Every year, people share messages of support and hope with those who are still in the closet. This event plans to continue its effort to end hate and queerphobia with friends and family coming out to smash stereotypes.
My Coming Out Story
I was suppressed with who I was as a person due to my experience with ABA as a child. I was afraid of who I was and that I was not good enough.
When I was a young child, I saw a lesbian wedding on News 12 NY because my father always had to watch the news while we ate dinner. I said, “Two girls can get married?! That’s so cool!” I always knew I was different than “other girls.”
As I said this, my parents freaked out.
In 7th grade, someone spread a rumor in my school that I was a lesbian. I did not even know what that word meant. After I found out, remembering how my parents reacted to seeing the wedding on TV, I was in denial for a long time. I was never a lesbian but attracted to more than one gender. I just tried my hardest to be liked by the other kids in my school but after a while, I just kept to myself.
After going away to college, I moved to the Adirondacks. I got married to my husband. My mother came up for a visit. My husband needed the car for something, so my mother drove me to work.
On the way there, I asked her, “What would you do if I was bi?” She told me she wouldn’t want to know. I said nothing for the entire way to work. I never brought it up with her again.
I was left to figure out who I was by myself. I was afraid to say anything to my husband and that was the worst thing I could have done. He wound up being really accepting.
After getting involved with the autistic community, I realized feeling different was because I was non-binary but it took me years to come to this realization.
So during pride month, I made this post on my private Facebook page and my public one:
“TW: suicide, me being suicidal
To end Mental Health Awareness month, I did some self-reflection. The more I think about it, the more I realize my partner and his family saved my life. I am serious.
When I tripped on him that day at the college dorm, I was really at my lowest. My own family didn’t want me home and I was really rescued by them. I was suicidal. If my own family didn’t want me, what was the point?
I hadn’t come up with a plan yet. I grew up in a loveless family and always made to believe everything was my fault, and questioning my existence.
As we grew together, and got engaged one month after meeting (yes I KNOW), we grew together. I met his mom who became my mom for all intents and purposes.
As we grew together, I started to unpack the trauma I had been burying all these years. He helped me figured out that I was autistic, he helped me kick my toxic family to the curb.
In living like that, I became who my family wanted me to be and I had to discover who I was. He has been so supportive through that. Experimenting with different things that I wasn’t sure worked for me and I had to figure that out.
The one time my mother had a visit to up state NY, I asked her in the car,”What would you do if I told you I was bi?” She said “I wouldn’t want to know”
Years later after having children, adopting children and getting involved with the autistic community, I discovered I am non binary. But I questioned it FOR YEARS.
I was back and forth with it. Even with that, my partner has been so supportive. He even helped me put up our jewish pride flag, which really needs to be replaced because it has seen better days.
I don’t think anyone would have put up with that. (For those wondering, I am keeping the title Mom because it did not come easy for me. I worked so hard for it, I am not giving it up. )
Even when I did talk to my mother and she offered to help me kill myself, he stepped in. When I say he saved my life, I am serious.
We are going on 21 years and still going strong. He pushed me to see a psychiatrist to get on medication because for a long time, I didn’t think I deserved it. I am so happy I did. I am feeling so much better
Right now I feel so lucky to have him and all my children in my life. I really couldn’t be happier.
It’s so appropriate that Mental Health Month goes right into Pride Month.”
After I came out, I got an email from my Rabbi. I had mentioned that our Jewish pride flag was getting tattered and has seen other days. He offered to replace it. I was so emotional because my whole life as a child, I was never accepted for who I was.
To this day, my husband is super supportive. Even bought our genderfluid child pride ice cream without looking at the flavor. It was funny for all but they loved the ice cream.
This is such a contrast between how I was treated growing up and watching my kids being free to be who they are.