National Coming Out Day, established by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in 1988, according to About, was founded in celebration of the second gay march on Washington a year earlier. The day is designed to celebrate those in the LGBTQ community and the process of coming out.
Coming out is defined loosely as the process by which someone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or any other sexuality along the spectrum “comes out” and makes those they hold dear aware of their sexual orientation in addition to accepting their own sexuality. This can also hold true for allies who support anyone along the LGBTQ spectrum.
Captain Hannah Winterbourne is currently the highest ranking transgender officer in the British Army. She says that when she was in the process of coming out, she received a great deal of support from the army and her family and friends.
“I would say to someone reading this, ‘you are who you are and no amount of worrying or angst is going to change that so understand that who you are is absolutely fine’,” she said during her interview with WalesOnline. She said that she transitioned because “it is who I am. There is no choice. You can no more choose than you can choose to be black or white or left handed.”
In fact, it was Lange’s coming out and ensuing work with Goldstein that led to widespread awareness about how challenging the coming out process can be and how rewarding that acceptance and equality can also be for everyone involved. Lange received a flood of mail from those who watched the piece about him and Goldstein, which aired on ESPN in August. Lange received a letter from a 15-year-old who admits that Lange’s story inspired him.
“It’s (Braeden’s story) given me a new outlook on life and also a new perspective on how different groups such as homosexuals are treated in today’s society. Simply put, this story saved me from heading the wrong direction in life. Braeden, who is three years younger than me, has quickly become my hero and role model in life for his courage and valiance …” the letter stated, according to ESPN Front Row.
Retired Welsh hockey player Michelle Daltry said that she believes that, in choosing to “live openly we help to change perceptions and create a better world for those who follow us.”
To be sure, coming out can be a painful process for many, but in reality, there are those involved in the process who report that coming out actually came as something of a relief for their parents.
“When Hannah first told me she said ‘I have got something to tell you and it’s serious’,” says Brian Winterbourne, Hannah’s father. “I thought she was ill or something and when she told me I thought ‘thank God for that, it’s not something serious.’ ”
While he may not have been referring to coming out when he said it, perhaps Dr. Seuss said it best when he said, “You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?”
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo of female same sex couple by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)