20 years after March on Washington we still must come out

By |2018-01-16T12:19:21-05:00October 11th, 2007|Uncategorized|

It was a heady, historic day in October 1987 when close to a million people marched on the nation’s capital demanding equal rights for LGBT people in America. For almost everyone, it was the largest group of out, visible and vocal LGBT people they had ever seen or been a part of.
The day was exhilarating. For once, LGBT people outnumbered the straight people in restaurants, hotels and on the street. Beyond the speeches, fundraising and the lobbying, the event had a powerful, galvanizing influence on thousands of people who then went home, came out to friends and family and started organizing within their local communities.
To celebrate its first anniversary, National Coming Out Day was founded by Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in 1988, in celebration of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on Oct. 11, 1987. It’s been 20 years since that march, and one of the most important lessons we continue to learn is the power of simply coming out.
Survey after survey finds that when someone actually knows an LGBT person, their attitudes start to change. People who have come out to their family members have enhanced their relationships, built kinship and integrated themselves into the fabric of daily life. People who have come out at work have revolutionized the workplace, and now a majority of the Fortune 500 companies in this country offer protections and many offer benefits to their LGBT employees, a demonstrable statement of the value of their LGBT co-workers. People who have come out at church have brought out the best in people of faith. Many churches and mainstream denominations are now reaching out to LGBT people, recognizing that our higher power does not make mistakes, but gifts us to each other. It is then up to us to figure out how each of one us, LGBT and straight, is precious.
On this National Coming Out Day we encourage each of our readers to come out to at least one person – maybe a family member, friend, co-worker or fellow congregant. We also encourage our allies to come out as knowing someone who is LGBT. Once you’ve come out, be sure to let that person know that they are important to you, otherwise it wouldn’t matter to you if they knew about this intimate aspect of your life. It is through this mutual act of value and care that we have the greatest possibility of creating a stronger community that is safer, more fulfilling and respectful of us all.

About the Author:

Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.