National Coming Out Day

Oct 4, 2021

Keith Haring, the late artist and HIV activist, famously created the NCOD’s logo.
The logo is owned by Human Rights Campaign for spreading knowledge about National Coming Out Day.

By Kathy Moosavi

“Most people think they don't know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.”

– Robert Eichberg, in 1993

For over 30 years, every October 11, the LGBTQ+ community, along with its allies, have celebrated National Coming Out Day, an affirming, positive celebration of one’s queerness that inspires folks to share their truth and to take a firm stand against homophobia.

National Coming Out Day was inaugurated in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O'Leary. Eichberg was a psychologist from New Mexico and the founder of the personal growth workshop "The Experience,” died in 1995 of complications from AIDS. O'Leary was an openly lesbian political leader and long-time activist from New York and at the time the head of the National Gay Rights Advocates in Los Angeles.

The idea of coming out is much older than many realize. The early implications of the phrase were not quite the same as how we use it today. Scholars believe the first use of the term “coming out” didn’t refer to gay people coming out to the wide world, but rather, gay people coming out to other gay people within their community. The phrase itself had long been used to describe when ‘well-bred’ young women were introduced to society and the world of eligible bachelors. According to historian George Chauncey’s Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, before World War II, an elite group of gay men “came out” at drag balls which were modeled after the debutante balls in the nation’s biggest cities.

The more personal idea of coming out to the people in one’s private life took decades to develop from this initial idea. Many more Americans would “come out” — or at least meet individuals for whom they had romantic feelings — during and after World War II, which was a significant turning point as the draft brought Americans together nationwide and shipped them abroad together. This created at that time the largest concentration of gay men inside one single institution ever in American History.

The gay liberation movement of the ’60s and ’70s traces some of its roots to this post-war era, and the subsequent clash that came about between those who fought in the war, to those left behind on the home front, oblivious to the changes that transpired. With the example of the successes of the civil-rights movement, the ingredients were there for the beginning of a movement for equality for LGBTQ+ Americans.

National Coming Out Day is an affirming, positive celebration of one’s queerness that inspires folks to share their truth and to take a firm stand against homophobia.

In observance of this year’s National Coming Out Day, we are celebrating on Friday, October 15th, with a joint Meetup group event. Please join us!

For more info and to RSVP:


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