It’s National Coming Out Day!

Time to celebrate living life as the person you really are and help others to do the same.

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is turning twenty-five this year! This internationally observed civil awareness day has been helping to promote a safe world for the LGBT community as well as their allies since October 11, 1988.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the date was chosen to mark the anniversary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987 which resulted in the founding of numerous LGBT groups, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization and AT&T’s employee group, LEAGUE. Rob Eichberg, founder of The Experience, a personal growth workshop, and Jean O’Leary, then head of the National Gay Rights Advocates, came up with the idea of a day that celebrated coming out and thus, NCOD was born.

Every year, the HRC comes up with a theme for this special day. They have yet to announce the theme for 2013’s celebration but last year it was simply “Come Out. Vote.” I’m sure we can expect big things for the twenty-fifth anniversary, especially with all the recent victories in the struggle for equality.

Do you know someone who is struggling to come out to family? Or perhaps at work? The HRC’s website is full of great ideas to help people come out as lesbian, gay, transgender and even as a straight ally. They even have tips for planning a National Coming Out Day event of your own! Some of these resources include Coming Out Issues for Asian Pacific Americans, For Latinas and Latinos, For African Americans, Living Openly in Your Place of Worship, and Coming Out to Your Doctor. As their Resource Guide to Coming Out says “Whether it’s for the first time ever, or for the first time today, coming out may be the most important thing you do all day. Talk about it.”

Pittsburgh National Coming Out Day Activities

Friday, October 11
Door art installation project presented
by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh
10:30 AM to 8 PM
Market Square

Throughout October
210 Grant Street Downtown
For further details, visit glccpgh.org

While it is certainly one of the most important things one can do, it is also very important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to come out but it should be left in the control of the individual in question to do so in their own way and in their own time. In the HRC’s guide to “Coming Out As A Straight Supporter,” they discuss the many ways to show your friends, associates and co-workers that you are an ally without “outing” them in a painful or awkward way. Some examples for starting an open dialogue are as follows:


  • What has the coming out process been like for you?
  • How did you know it was the right time to come out?
  • What can I do to support you?


  • Be as open and honest as you would like your loved one to be with you.
  • If you feel awkward, say so.
  • Tell your acquaintance if he or she does or says something hat makes you uncomfortable.
  • Ask the ‘dumb questions.’


  • Explain to your friend that this does not change how you feel about them.
  • Tell them that it might take a little while for you to digest what they have told you but you still care for them and respect them as much as you ever have or more.


  • Invite your friend or family member to bring their partner to a social event.
  • Casually mention a news item dealing with LGBT issues in a positive manner.
  • Join an LGBT-themed group on Facebook.
  • Read an LGBT publication.


  • Humor can help as long as you’re being respectful.
  • Be sure they know you’re laughing with them, not at them.

The guide also asks that straight supporters understand that while some LGBT folks may use certain terms with one another in a way they feel is funny or affectionate, it does not always mean that said straight person should follow their lead. “When in doubt, ask your friend or relative if it would be appropriate for you to use those terms.” There is even a section in the pamphlet titled “Will people think I’m gay?”

So if you know anyone that is in need of a helping hand coming to terms with themselves or someone around them, be sure to check out these free resources and get ready to celebrate being yourself on National Coming Out Day, October 11, 2013.

Roy Gloeckl resides in the southern hills of Pittsburgh, performing communications specialties for a local university. He is a lifelong gaymer who has yet to “catch ‘em all.” He is an actor who wants to be a cartoon. And yeah, he totally has a favorite dinosaur. Follow him on Instagram and tell him yours.