Listen up, people, because today marks a very special celebration - it's the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, an annual LGBTQ+ awareness event dedicated to maintaining positivity and celebration surrounding this monumental milestone.
But what do we mean by coming out? Well, it can mean whatever you take it to, whether that be letting friends and family members know that you're gay, lesbian or bisexual, or presenting those you love with the knowledge that you're set to live life as transgender, genderqueer or another non-mainstream gender identity.
NCOD was founded way back on October 11, 1988 by psychologist Robert Eichberg and activist Jean O'Leary as a marker to the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, with the intention to overcome homophobia that is derived from a place of ignorance and misinformation.
As the late, great Eichberg himself said back in 1993: "Most people think they don't know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes."
Coming out basically means expressing your gender or sexuality to the world in order to end the stigma. Remember, you're free to be whatever you want and that's what NCOD is all about.
Since 1988, the annual celebration has taken the world by storm - while it was once in place to banish fears and stereotypes surrounding the gay and lesbian community, as attitudes have slowly but surely changed over the years, so has the meaning of this significant date.
In the present day, NCOD is celebrated by millions as a worldwide day of pride, designed to allow every individual to embrace and celebrate their identity, while recognising and honouring people who come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer and as straight allies for equality.
Ahead of the 30th anniversary of #NationalComingOutDay, @HRC honors @JanelleMonae who, in coming out as a "queer Black woman in America," jump-started an international conversation about bisexual and pansexual identities. #NCOD pic.twitter.com/ezN1XIL6UX- Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) October 2, 2018
As the UNM LGBTQ Resource Center pointed out: "Coming out generates visibility of the LGBTQ community, which in turn promotes a safer world for everyone to live truthfully and openly."
We here at LADbible are always seeking to transcend difference, celebrate diversity and build community, which is why we've got the party poppers out for this momentous occasion.
The ethos of NCOD fits well in line with our Free to Be campaign - LADbible's collaboration with Smirnoff that aims to celebrate diversity and champion a more inclusive environment for everyone regardless of their gender, sexuality or otherwise.
Along with Smirnoff, we're raising awareness about issues regarding inclusivity while breaking down social barriers between different groups of people. And the same can be said for National Coming Out Day.
You can show your support this year in a number of ways; many activists choose to wear pride symbols like the rainbow flag or the pink triangle to work in a bid to highlight solidarity for the day, or you can donate to LGBTQ+ rights organisations such as the Human Rights Campaign.
And if you're part of the movement, sharing your coming out story on social media can be a great way to raise awareness about the day while encouraging others who are thinking about doing the same.
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