October 11th is recognized in Canada as National Coming Out Day – a positive celebration of queerness that acknowledges the importance of 2SLGBTQIA+ people feeling free and confident to share their true identity with the world. Honouring and supporting those who have come out, those who will come out today, and those who cannot or choose not to, celebrates their choice – while raising awareness of the challenges members of the community face and encouraging a more accepting and supportive society.
National Coming Out Day was founded by American activists Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in 1988 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of over half a million people marching for queer rights in Washington, D.C. – an event that resulted in the founding of several (then) LGBTQ organizations. The founders’ belief was that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance and that once people know that they have loved ones who are 2SLGBTQIA+, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views.
Coming out is an expression that describes a process of socially acknowledging one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Coming out can provide space and opportunity for 2SLGBTQIA+ folx to define their identity and lived experiences on their own terms, with their own agency. Because coming out looks and feels different to each person and is an ongoing process, it can also be complicated and stressful, necessitating continuous courage and strength. Coming out is not a required process for anyone and all identities are valid regardless of whether others know this about someone or not.
It’s important to observe this day in a meaningful way, and part of that includes celebrating the many wonderful and diverse stories of this often-shared experience for 2SLGBTQIA+ people.
Everyone’s story is different, and everyone is on a different point in their journey but sharing our experiences can help us feel connected and inspired – so even if you don’t have a story to share yet, it doesn’t mean this day isn’t for you. Sharing an experience with others may seem insignificant to some but for people who have struggled to find acceptance, hearing a story can assure them “I’m not alone.” Coming out is an empowering experience and allies showing support continues to be a critical form of activism to dispel stereotypes and eradicate hate and homophobia.
At RRC Polytech, we believe that diversity is our strength. We are committed to creating inclusive learning and working environments where everyone feels sale, respected, and celebrated.
Today is an excellent opportunity to consider the ways each of us can make our learning and working spaces safe(r), more welcoming and more inclusive; and how we can support 2SLGBTQIA+ friends and colleagues.
Below are resources and further information on being allies for everyone – it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, dignity, and respect. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.