National Coming Out Day Celebrated At UIS


Photographs courtesy of Giang Nguyen

Founded in 1988 by LGBT activists Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary, national coming out day was originally created to serve as a political activist movement. To Eichberg and O’Leary, the smallest action of LGBT activism an individual could take was living openly and gradually working to normalize LGBT identities in the world; a goal that many may say has been completed. It is 2018, gay marriage has been legalized in the U.S and the rights of the community seem secure. It is 2018 and there are still LGBT youth unable to come forth out of fear. It is 2018 and LGBT focused hate crimes are still committed. It is 2018 and coming out has not gotten easier.  

It is 2018 but coming out has not lost any of its strength.  

In celebration of the voices of the LGBT community, the UIS Gender and sexuality Student Services office hosted their yearly celebration of national coming out day in front of the student union. Hosted as a celebration of the process of coming out, the event asked students to walk through a closet door in front of their peers and share their experiences. Some students brought inspirational tales of understanding families and the path to self-acceptance. Some brought stories of facing prejudice head on and openly defying their fears. Some stood as allies and lent their strength to the cause. Some even came out for the first time that day. No matter their words, everyone brought a spirit of solidarity and a voice that helped to chip away at the great taboo that is a non-mainstream identity. In that space everyone was able to drop their shells, expose their vulnerabilities and proudly proclaim their support for the lives of LGBT individuals the world over. 

It is 2018 and the LGBT community stands strong.