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Why National Coming Out Day is such a big deal

The director of Equality Toledo talks about changing the stigma.
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Coming out is a giant step for many people in the LGBTQ community, and it’s why days like National Coming Out Day are so important. Celebrated on October 11 each year, National Coming Out Day is the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Sheena Barnes is the director of Equality Toledo, an organization that works with state and local officials to make sure that the LGBTQ community can have safe spaces in northwest Ohio. She says their mission is to provide training and education to people in the hopes of changing the stigma. “We celebrate today for those who can come out safely, and then we advocate for those who unfortunately can’t come out safely today.”

Barnes says that people do seem to feel safer coming out these days than 5, 10, or 20 years ago. That’s partially because of the work the younger generation is doing on social media. “I think right now we’re still seeing the struggles of a binary world where you have to be this or that, and our youth today are leading the forum and the way to say, ‘Hey I’m me and I choose to be me for today so no labels.’” says Barnes

Recently, Barnes has been hearing that some people think LGBTQ community members don’t have to come out anymore since our world today is much more open. But she says this is not the case, and it’s why days like October 11th are so important to educate LGBTQ allies. “The person chooses to come out every day to a new person, to a new job, to a new setting, and so it’s a daily journey of who, when, and are you safe to come out.”

To learn more about National Coming Out Day, the LGBTQ community and Equality Toledo, you can visit their website.

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