National Coming Out Day

TO: Gonzaga Community
FROM: Ellen Maccarone, Acting Vice President for Mission Integration
SUBJ: National Coming Out Day
DATE: October 11, 2022

Today, Oct. 11, is National Coming Out Day, a day in which we raise awareness for individuals within the LGBTQ+ community who have “come out” to their friends or family about their sexuality. As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Gonzaga University embraces all persons as made in the image and likeness of God, and thus honors the infinite, absolute worth of all people. We value human dignity and are called to identify situations and circumstances that cause individuals – by virtue of their identity(ies) – to be, and feel, marginalized and stigmatized. Unfortunately, homophobia and hate-fueled homophobic acts are common, and there are movements in American society that are working to oppose LGBTQ+ rights. Gonzaga seeks to be a place of social justice; a place of safe, inclusive belonging for our students and employees. Today is an opportunity to recommit to creating a place of true support and belonging.

The Lincoln LGBTQ+ Center is here to serve as a facilitator in creating greater awareness and understanding as we seek to build a more inclusive community. We thank Lincoln LGBTQ+ Resource Center Director Jamie Bartlett for sharing more about National Coming Out Day and the work we can all do to support our LGBTQ+ community.

National Coming Out Day

Jamie Bartlett, Director, Lincoln LGBTQ+ Resource Center

Ten years ago this month, my partner and I made our union legal at a courthouse in Manhattan on what happened to be National Coming Out Day. We didn’t plan the alignment; it was a week we could both escape from our military jobs in San Diego while also celebrating our friend and witness’ birthday.

In 2012, only a handful of states legally recognized same-sex unions and New York simply seemed the most fun choice. It wasn’t until we were waiting for our turn with the judge and started looking around at the notably high number of same-sex couples that we put together the significance of the calendar date.

October 11 is celebrated as National Coming Out Day (NCOD). The day officially commemorates the Oct. 11, 1987, National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights, an effort to bring visibility to the size and strength of the community. The New York Times highlighted Robert Eichberg, one of the NCOD founders, in his 1995 obituary: “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.” 1

The term “coming out” is short for the expression “coming out of the closet,” a reflection of the many queer individuals who exist in the world but often hide this part of their identity, like shoving dirty clothes in the closet. NCOD has become a marker to celebrate visibility and the journey everyone takes to open that closet door.

Even in today’s more affirming environment, coming out is not easy. It requires vulnerability and bravery to put out into the world a part of your identity which could be rejected. Plus, it’s important to note that coming out is not a single event in the life of a queer person. It happens every time you start a new job, move to a new community, or meet new friends. It can be mentally exhausting to wonder if each new situation will be affirming and welcoming. We continue to celebrate this day so we can actively support those struggling on this journey.

October is celebrated as LGBTQ+ History Month. This month let’s celebrate the brave individuals who came out when it was unpopular and the brave individuals who continue to come out today. If you’re an ally, recognize that your queer friends must perform this ritual each time they meet someone new. Show your support by creating affirming spaces and explicitly using affirming language. Check in with the LGBTQ+ Center to pick up identifying flags, buttons, and stickers. Sign up for our Sexuality and Gender Equity training to improve your language practice around queer terms.

When and if someone comes out to you, give them a high five, because they potentially did something very difficult. Thank you for being a community that lifts up and supports one another – today and every day.

Upcoming Lincoln LGBTQ+ Events

  • October 11: Come into the Lincoln LGBTQ+ Center for treats to celebrate the day.
  • October 13: 12–1 p.m., University Chapel, 3rd Floor – Lavender Mass
  • October 27: Halloween Party sponsored by the Queer Student Union
Learn more about the many ways Gonzaga supports and celebrates equity, diversity and inclusion.

1  Robert Eichberg, 50, Gay Rights Leader. August 15, 1995, New York Times. Retrieved online:
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