“The busy and exciting month of October has finally come back around. The leaves are changing, school is back in full swing and there’s literally nowhere to hide from the obnoxiously delicious scent of pumpkin spice.
For most of us this means Halloween is just around the corner. People of all ages who were raised with the spooky tradition rooted in Catholicism are getting ready to enjoy themselves at the end of the month. Whether you fancy yourself an old-fashioned sugar coma or you’re dying to show off the fabulous costume you’ve been putting together from Value Village since last Halloween ended – there’s something for everyone on the Day of the Dead.
… But in October, for a few folks, there’s a different form of tradition to take part in. This tradition has the potential to be even more terrifyingthan ghouls and masked serial killers. And no, I’m not talking about another Thanksgiving across the table from your least favourite aunt in-law on the planet. Not everyone celebrates it – in fact, some might not consider it a celebration at all. For those who do take part though; it can be a truly rewarding and empowering experience. The day in particular that I’m referring to, of course, would be: National Coming Out Day.
For those unaware: National Coming Out Day, or NCOD for short, was founded on October 11th, 1988. Homosexual Psychologist Robert Eichberg, and an openly lesbian political leader named Jean O’Leary were the masterminds behind it all. The date was selected to commemorate the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights. The basis of this occasion was a belief that homophobia essentially thrives in silence – so in order to fight back against oppression, supporters are called upon to voluntary self-disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender. As Eichberg once said, “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.”
NCOD has been celebrated across North America ever since, and has inspired thousands of people to come out of the closet along with their cashmere scarves every fall. It’s said that some countries in the United Kingdom and even Switzerland have taken part. Celebrities have also been observed emerging during this time through the years.
Real talk for a minute though, okay? Amidst all the fun we’ll all be having this October – somewhere out there – someone might be struggling with their sexual orientation or identity. Please remember it’s important to take it seriously if a family member, friend, or even a complete stranger should choose to self-disclose to you. Self-disclosing in any context can take a lot of courage! So if your nephew decides to wear his sister’s tiara to the dinner table this Thanksgiving: raise a glass to him and show him you care by accepting the choice that he’s made and demonstrate some good old validation! Support the abolishment of oppression! You go, gays! (And lesbians, and transgendered, and transsexual, and every other gender/sexually fluid person out there!) This one is for you!”