National Coming Out Day: Celebrate Being Yourself

National Coming Out Day: Celebrate Being Yourself

Students can stand up and not be afraid to be who they are because friends and family will standup with them.

Oct. 11 marked the 27th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. One of the reasons why it is celebrated on this day is because of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which also occurred on Oct. 11, 1987.

Mercy College’s own GLOW UP, which stands for Gay, Lesbian, Or Whatever U Prefer, celebrated the event on Monday, Oct. 12 by having people write anonymous messages of encouragement for individuals who are having a tough time coming out. There was a table set up in front of the Lecture Hall in Dobbs Ferry with messages of encouragement written by Mercy students. Sophomore vet/med major, Toni Pellegrino, explained the purpose of the event was a way to provide awareness.

“Today’s event is to get people talking about it and also to explain the history behind it. It is not something we are making up. This has been around for a while.”

Sophomore media major Meagan Comerford also stated the process of coming out is a very scary process because individuals do not know what is going to happen next or what the outcome will be.

“It is also a very scary step because you do not know what is going to happen, and we have witnessed some terrible outcomes. Some people would say that they were kicked out of their houses for coming out. It is really scary, but it is good when we write inspirational quotes for them.”

Sophomore occupational therapy major Sarah Fant also explained how this event is meant to make everywhere a safe place for the LGBTQ community.

“It is an event that makes everywhere a safe place for the community to come out and say, ‘this is who I am,’ and it helps take a big weight off of their chests.”

Several members of GLOW UP briefly shared their stories of coming out to people who are close to them. Sophomore media major Matthew Reich shared his own personal story of coming out, and how some of his friends were supportive of him in the end.

“You first come out to yourself because you recognize how you feel and what your sexual orientation is. I came out to my friends, and it was when I was 15. I just said it randomly over lunch. One person said, ‘Oh, I do not know anyone who is gay’ and I said I was. I did not realize at the moment what I had said. It was a split decision. But my friends were supportive.”

Senior psychology major Anchelle Allen’s coming out story was more challenging than others, but her mother was able to become more accepting of her daughter.

“I came out last year, in November. It happened during an argument with my mom. After the whole argument, she sent me a bunch of text messages from the Bible, and she also told me that my grandmother is watching me, and she does not like my decision. She used my grandmother’s death against me.”

Even though her mother is now more accepting, Anchelle mentions how her mother still has her moments.

“But eventually, she got used to it because I am not changing. She thought it was a phase, yet it is not a phase. It is what it is. Now she is more accepting of it, but she still has her moments.”

For those who are struggling to come out, there are programs and events that GLOW UP has. Fant and Reich also explain that people can come to the meetings to see what is going on, such as the Halloween dance on Oct. 30, which GLOW UP is organizing to meet new people and just have fun.

“There are plenty of events and programs. All you have to do is go online and search, or look around the school. We are constantly doing something,” stated Fant.

“There is The Trevor Project, and it has its own special hotline. You can call anytime. Someone will answer and talk to you,” stated Reich.

The Trevor Project is one of the leading national organizations focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

The lifeline is available anytime, day or night, at (866) 488-7386 or (866) 4U-TREVOR.

Nearly one third of suicides affects LGBTQ youth. The movie Trevor, based on an NPR broadcast discussing teen suicide, was about a a LGBTQ teen who attempts to take his own life.

While Comerford, Pellegrino, and Reich were working at their station for the event, they recalled how some people did not know what the day was. There was one man who did not know what the term, in and out of the closet meant.

“Some people did not know what the day was. They had no idea. I am so happy that I got to talk to them,” stated Pellegrino.

“We were surprised. He had a negative reaction about it when he found out, but some people do not know what the closet is. We thought it was a broad term, or everyone knows what the closet is. Are you in the closet or are you out of the closet is common language for us,” Comerford stated.

From that particular experience, it is clear that there is more work to be done in society. For people who are struggling with the decision to come out, each response is the same, it gets better. Comerford gave helpful and encouraging advice for those who are having a difficult time.

“Just do not give up. It is going to be hard. There is always going to be someone there to help you. There is always going to be someone or something there that will help you later on down the line. Maybe immediately, maybe a couple of years from now. Never give up. Just be strong.”