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  • Oct 02, 2019

CHA celebrates National Coming Out Day

CHA offers support and services for all members of the community.

By Staff Psychologist Francisco Surace, PhD, Gender and Sexuality Clinic - Adult Services Coordinator.

National Coming Out Day is celebrated every year on October 11. The day was first established in 1988 by psychologist Richard Eichberg and gay rights activist Jean O'Leary. It commemorates the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place in 1987. During this time in history HIV/AIDs had become a global pandemic with gay and transgender communities being disproportionately affected. Discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender diverse (LGBTQ+) communities increased the spread of the disease through societal neglect in research, medicine, and legal protections. Today, National Coming Out Day continues to be a day to raise awareness about the civil rights of LGBTQ+ people.

Coming out is a personal decision and an ongoing process of affirming your identity and letting others know who you are. It is an act of self-acceptance, courage, and vulnerability. It is an act of self-acceptance because it is embracing who you are; of courage, because you let yourself be known to others; and of vulnerability, because you open yourself to potential acceptance and rejection. Coming out is also a political statement because one is making visible the presence of LGBTQ+ people in a world where some people would prefer to render LGBTQ+ people invisible.

What to consider when Coming Out:

  • Self-acceptance. Some people experience improved mental health and well-being after accepting themselves for who they are, even if they choose no to come out to others.
  • Personal journey. There is no one way or timeline to come out. The only rule to coming out is that it should feel safe and right to you.
  • Ongoing process. Coming out is a process, not just a one-time event. New situations and new people in your life will result in needing to come out again and again. To who, when, and where to come out is your decision.
  • Learn from others. Support groups, online communities, forums, and YouTube channels are helpful resources to learn about other people’s coming out experiences.
  • Rehearse your words. Be thoughtful about what you want to say, to who, and when. Do not come out in the middle of an argument or as retaliation.
  • Start Small. If you decide to come out, start with people who you know (or believe) will be accepting and supportive.
  • Be prepared. Some people might be accepting of your identity while others might not be, prepare yourself emotionally for different reactions before you decide to come out.
  • Develop coping skills. It is important that you build coping skills and self-care practices in case people do not react the way you expected or wanted.
  • Seek Supports. It is important that you create LGBTQ+ affirming supports, including in-person and online LGBTQ groups.
  • Consider counseling. Sometimes deciding to come out can be overwhelming or people’s negative reaction to your coming out may lead to anxiety and/or depression. The support of a psychotherapist may be helpful through this process.

If you are considering coming out this National Coming Out Day and need extra psychological support, the Gender and Sexuality Clinic at Cambridge Health Alliance provides professional LGBTQ+ affirming services. We are a clinic comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers within the Department of Psychiatry. We provide multidisciplinary, compassionate, specialized mental healthcare for LGBTQ+ children, adolescents, adults, and families. Our ultimate goal is to increase accessibility to LGBTQ+ affirming services and to help people across the lifespan to navigate issues related to gender and sexual identity. For more information about LGBTQ+ care at CHA, please visit our LGBTQ+ Living Well page

Here are some other useful resources from the Human Rights Campaign:

This articles provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider.

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