Center for American Progress

On National Coming Out Day, Don’t Disparage the Closet
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On National Coming Out Day, Don’t Disparage the Closet

Preston Mitchum writes about how "coming out" is a brave but complicated act, and overemphasizing its importance may be unwise.

Authors

  • Preston Mitchum

It has been over five years since I logged onto Facebook and publicly announced my sexual orientation. “I can no longer stay silent, friends,” I wrote. “I am gay and have been for a lifetime. I recognize that this may be a shock to some of you but I would be remiss to only share half of me.” Coming out was both liberating and constricting, for me. It was beautiful although the consequences were occasionally ugly. I am glad I came out. But what about those people who aren’t?

In October 1988, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) was founded to celebrate individuals who publicly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender. This October 11 will again be a day cheering authenticity and bravery. And it’s an event I have mixed feelings about.

On the one hand, it takes courage to publicly identify as LGBT. Who wouldn’t commend individuals who openly share their internal selves with the external world knowing they can receive backlash? But while I, too, applaud the authenticity inherent in the act of coming out, the experience is not for everyone. The danger in over-emphasizing coming out is that the act, at least in the short term, benefits the group sometimes more than the individual.

The above excerpt was originally published in The Atlantic. Click here to view the full article.

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Authors

Preston Mitchum

Policy Analyst