National Coming Out Day: Why Celebrating This Radical Act is More Relevant Than Ever

Every year since 1988, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans have celebrated National Coming Out Day.

I came out to my parents during my final year of seminary in North Carolina—almost a decade ago. After fumbling and mumbling about my “friend” who they had met earlier in the year, I managed to blurt out that my “friend” and I were “more than friends” and that I was gay.
My mom ended the conversation right then and there. “I don't want to talk about this any more,” she said. My dad? He offered to help me do my taxes. After sweating and pacing and feeling my heart in my throat for day, it was an anti-climactic moment that my parents and I are still working our way through. Each time we visit together, I have to come out again and again. It's gotten easier for me with each passing year—but for too many young people across this country, it hasn't.
Every year since 1988, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans have celebrated National Coming Out Day. Far from a hokey chance to sell merchandise, National Coming Out Day is a celebration of a radical act.
For straight Americans, this might seem like a weird thing to celebrate. After all, for many—though not most—LGBT folks in this country, the act of first coming out was horrifying. For some, it was a yawn: Their family and friends already knew and were just waiting for them to admit it. For many, though, coming out resulted in being kicked out of their house, being rejected by their faith community, facing homelessness, and even considering or acting on suicidal thoughts.
To make things more complicated, “coming out” for LGBT Americans isn't just a one-time thing—it's something that happens over and over again, each time someone makes the decision whether to put a yard sign in front of their house, or hold their partner's hand, or display their child's photo on their desk at work. Moment after moment, day after day, year after year, LGBT Americans come out to friends, family, coworkers, bosses, fellow church members, and strangers on the street. Moment after moment, LGBT Americans from Mississippi to Montana must make the choice to be courageous—there's no “ripping off the bandage” when it comes to being out and open as a political act in this country.
My parents are currently at my house—the home I share with my partner of six years—helping us build a patio in the backyard. They're figuring out how to be the parents of a gay daughter, and I'm figuring out how to continue being honest with them about my life and who I am. Becoming honest about who I am was the best decision I could have made, but that's not the case for every LGBT person. For too many people, being honest means losing family, losing a job, losing a home, or losing friends.
Join our call to “Come Out and Vote” on November 6. Coming out isn't a one-time thing—it requires us all to take active steps each day to ensure that this country is becoming more equal, rather than more divisive and discriminatory. Join me in coming out to vote this year— because my equality and the equality of millions of other Americans depends on it.
Keith Haring image via wikimedia\n
Heather Cronk is the managing director of GetEQUAL\n

Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
via Anadirc / Flickr

We spend roughly one-third of our life asleep, another third at work and the final third trying our best to have a little fun.

But is that the correct balance? Should we spend as much time at the office as we do with our friends and family? One of the greatest regrets people have on their deathbeds is that they spent too much of their time instead of enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have made a significant pledge to reevaluate the work-life balance in their country.

Keep Reading Show less