National Coming Out Day as relevant as ever

Mel Acosta, Opinion Editor

On its 30th anniversary, a consequential question began to arise in con- cern to National Coming Out Day: Is it really even relevant anymore?

The answer is as simple as well, yes, obviously.

Some believe that our society has softened on its bigotry towards the LGBTQ+ community and I suppose, to an extent, this is true. But everyone looks at the community as a whole and, in doing so, they’re just glazing over the struggles that certain groups face.

In a joint study done in 2017 by the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and NPR, it was found that LGBTQ+ people of color, in relations to their white counterparts, are twice as likely to encounter discrimination when applying for jobs or communicating with the police. It’s not generally acknowledged that people of color face more prejudice because of their intertwining identities. There’s already oppression set in place for the color of your skin, imagine adding all the harassment of not identifying as straight or cis-gender?

There are even more sub groups that continue struggling to find acceptance, as well. Those living in small towns or areas that are more close-minded, those with religious families, and those with lower social statuses, just to list a few.

The point is that there are still large areas of the country living in fear and secrecy.

National Coming Out Day was created on the first anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1988. Part of the goal was to indicate to people that they likely already knew someone who was gay, despite maybe being unaware.

Coming out became a form of activism for the community because know- ing someone who is LGBTQ+ makes people more likely to support their rights when it comes down to elections.

While this is a bit backhanded – you should support LGBTQ+ rights because they’re human rights, not just because it could have more of a direct impact on your life – it does work. This idea is actually still useful now and, with many rights being stripped away in the new administration era, it’s important to continue to spread concern over the issues.

Appreciating National Coming Out Day isn’t only about the coming out aspect. It’s also about holding onto the original goal of its creation: to raise awareness and support a community in its journey.

It’s ridiculous to believe that because there has been a push in the right direction for equal rights, everything has been achieved, especially considering the current state of politics in the country.

There are still people being silenced for who they are. We are far from finished with the fight and, until that day arises, National Coming Out Day will be just as important to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies as the day it was started.