LGBTQ community celebrates 32nd Coming Out Day on Sunday

Equality Toledo is celebrating LGBTQ History Month with a virtual campaign.
Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 4:46 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Sunday marks the 33rd anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights. The massive demonstration in 1987 brought more than 200,000 activists to the nation’s capital to protest in support of gay rights and against the government’s response to the AIDS crisis. Decades later, October 11th is now known as National Coming Out Day to mark that historic date.

Coming Out Day is just one piece of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) History Month, recognized in October. The holiday allows the community to celebrate those who have announced their gender or sexual identity publicly, and to honor those who have not.

Equality Toledo executive director Sheena Barnes says LGBTQ folks have to come out multiple times during their lives. Every time they get a new job or move to a new community, they have to go through it again, and it can be overwhelming, especially if the revelation risks their livelihood. In more than half the states in the country, housing discrimination based on sexual or gender identity is legal. A Supreme Court decision just this year made it illegal nationwide for employers to discriminate against LGBTQ employees. Even in 2020, four years after the landmark Supreme Court decision that made marriage equality the law of the land, Barnes says many people still choose to stay “in the closet,” so to speak, for fear of the consequences of coming out.

“I didn’t realize the challenges that would be there, like the isolation from other parents because of my kids. Isolation from people I knew. My family, my friends, who didn’t know that I identified as an LGBTQ community member," says Barnes. "And I think it is scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen, how people are going to react.”

So Sunday, and the entire month of October, is a way for the LGBTQ community to recognize its historical icons who spent their lives, and sometimes lost them, so future generations could take charge of their own lives.

Equality Toledo is in the middle of a virtual campaign to celebrate the month. The group encourages anyone in the LGBTQ community who is struggling to reach out for help.

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