Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, is commemorating the 35th annual National Coming Out Day (NCOD) by inviting LGBTQ+ allies to sign the “Coming Out Against Hate” pledge, joining with HRC and countless LGBTQ+ people to stand up against hate in schools, libraries, and everywhere they live, work, and play. This public sign of commitment is crucial following the National State of Emergency that was declared by HRC in June of this year as legislation passed attacking LGBTQ+ individuals remains at an all-time high.
In the U.S., there are an estimated 20 million LGBTQ+ adults and more than 2 million LGBTQ+ youth. As part of this commemoration, the Human Rights Campaign is releasing three new Coming Out Guides for individuals who may need advice on their coming out journey. Coming Out: Living Authentically as Black LGBTQ+ Americans, Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ+ Latine Americans, and Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ+ Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders dive deep into the issues faced by BIPOC people who wish to come out within their cultural communities. They also celebrate the incredible contributions of BIPOC LGBTQ+ people in history, culture, politics and civil society. These guides complement our previous Coming Out guides for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual+ People, for the Bisexual+ community, for Transgender and Non-Binary People and for Allies.
This year, National Coming Out Day falls one day before the 25th anniversary of the tragic death of Matthew Shepard, who was attacked in Laramie, Wyoming, in an anti-gay hate crime on October 6, 1998. Shepard died from his injuries six days later, though his story and his legacy live on through his parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, and their unending advocacy to help create a world where the equality and dignity of all people are embraced. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009.
Despite the progress made over the preceding decades, the hatred that took Matthew Shepard’s life is on the rise in the country. Over the past year, there have been over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures around the country; most recently, right-wing extremists in Congress threatened a government shutdown that would harm the livelihoods of thousands because they were unwilling to focus on the needs of the country instead of attacking the LGBTQ+ community.
That’s why National Coming Out Day is more important than ever. The LGBTQ+ community will never be silenced or erased. Today, and every day, we celebrate the joy and power in living our most authentic selves. To learn more about HRC’s National Coming Out Day efforts, visit www.hrc.org/campaigns/national-coming-out-day.
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