28 years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10. Human Rights Campaign
In news that’s quite affirming, the annual observance of National Coming Out Day on October 11th has now become, due to increased general acceptance, more akin to a traditionally observed holiday than an ongoing politically charged campaign to encourage folks to “take the next step.”
The standout song from recent Voice winner Jordan Smith, “Stand in the Light,” aptly serves as background to this year’s National Coming Out Day video (shown later in this post). Lyrics from the chorus:
This is who I am inside
This is who I am I’m not gonna hide
Cause the greatest risk we’ll ever take is by far
To stand in the light and be seen as we are
So stand in the light and be seen as we are
The song’s video:
Whether LGBTQ or not, “stand in the light” is a message that’s relatable for many.
Take Smith, for instance—a young man with a distinctively high singing voice. Many viewers of The Voice questioned, in fact, if Smith was gay or transgender. As he stated months ago to People, “All the time, I get called ma’am – on the phone, in the drive-through. Even now, people on the Internet are convinced I’m transgender. That weighs on you when you’re young and still trying to figure out who you are. It would have [gotten to me] a long time ago, but not anymore.”
He now happens to be newly straight-married to his long-term girlfriend.
Just a few of the many who’ve come out this year:
- Marcelas Owens, otherwise known as “the Obamacare kid” because at age 11 six years ago he’d stood by President Obama at the signing of the Affordable Care Act. In March, at age 17, she came out as transgender.
- Elizabeth Gilbert, renowned author of Eat, Pray, Love, began to self-identify differently after her best friend Rayya Elias was diagnosed with cancer. It “opened up a trap door I didn’t even know was there and my entire existence fell straight through that door.” Another quote from her coming out declaration: “Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real…”
- Brian Anderson, an accomplished professional skateboarder who’s now openly gay in a field where no one else has yet publicly come out.
In the past National Coming Out Day had varying themes from year to year—2014’s “Coming Out Still Matters,” for example, which always will be relevant, and 2012’s “Come Out. Vote,” which once again is timely. Although such themes are no longer assigned, I hereby informally propose combining these two for tomorrow’s Coming Out Day. Let’s proudly be and/or reassert ourselves while also committing to casting our needed votes in the important upcoming elections.
Below is the aforementioned HRC video made especially for National Coming Out Day 2016. Grab a tissue and bask in a series of inspiring revelations: