National Coming Out Day is a unique occasion in that it celebrates both personal strength and the power of community — lessons sorely needed this year.
In the past few years, some questioned the value of community-wide efforts like Pride, and even LGBT-centric bars. With sweeping societal changes like marriage equality and trans-rights laws, were such institutions still necessary? The past 11 months have definitively answered that question.
LGBT gains were certainly made in recent years, but wins can easily be rolled back, as President Donald Trump’s administration has shown us. The social and political upheaval that has plagued this country surrounding Trump’s election has also shone a needed light on ongoing and systemic ills whose roots run deep in American society: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia. The progressive victories during the Obama administration may have blinded many Americans to just how widespread and endemic such attitudes remain in this country.
Pride is still needed, LGBT bars are still needed and community initiatives like National Coming Out Day are still needed. Both personal and community freedoms are under attack right now, and one of the best forms of resistance to that oppression is visibility.
For LGBT people, visibility can take many different forms: marching in an LGBT demonstration, wearing a Pride flag on your backpack, calling your elected officials to advocate for LGBT causes or sharing your coming-out journey with family members and friends.
And, in this time of divisiveness, visibility shouldn’t just be relegated to your LGBT identity.
This is a time in which all communities under attack need to unite their voices. Come out for LGBT rights, racial justice, women’s rights, disability equality and the countless other movements that are being threatened.
Every win for one marginalized community is a victory for others, just like every threat to one group of people is a threat to all.
Be visible, be loud and be proud — of both yourself and the many communities who continue to support equality.