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National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an annual LGBT awareness day observed on October 11, to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, and more (LGBT) people (and sometimes other groups typically grouped within the LGBT community) to “come out of the closet”.First celebrated in the United States in 1988, the initial idea was grounded in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, and the emphasis on the most basic form of activism being coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person.
The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views.
National Coming Out Day is observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement. The first decades of observances were marked by private and public people coming out, often in the media, to raise awareness and let the mainstream know that everyone knows at least one person who is lesbian or gay. In more recent years, because coming out as LGBT is now far less risky in most Western countries, the day is more of a holiday. Participants often wear pride symbols such as pink triangles and rainbow flags.
NCOD was inaugurated in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary. Eichberg, who died in 1995 of complications from AIDS, was a psychologist from New Mexico and the founder of the personal growth workshop “The Experience”. O’Leary was an openly lesbian political leader and long-time activist from New York, and was at the time the head of the National Gay Rights Advocates in Los Angeles. LGBT activists, including Eichberg and O’Leary, did not want to respond defensively to anti-LGBT action because they believed it would be predictable. This led them to establish NCOD in order to maintain positivity and celebrate coming out. The date of October 11 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.