10 November 2022
Although the idea of coming out may not be as stigmatized now as it was when the holiday was first founded, every year people still take pride in their identities and celebrate National Coming Out Day on October 11th.
The holiday was founded by gay rights activist Jean O’Leary and psychologist Richard Eichberg. The date was marked on 1988, the first anniversary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights the year prior, which was a protest for the rights of queer people who felt more empowered being open about their sexuality, seeing it as another form of activism.
Nowadays, the holiday both celebrates past events and makes way for future ones. It serves both as a commemoration of the people who fought for LGBTQ+ rights in the past, and continue to do so currently.
This is something that English teacher Ms. Mikayla Lee wishes to communicate. She is both the teacher sponsor for Queer Student Union (formerly known as Prism) and the designated representative for LGBTQ+ resources, or Rainbow Representative. She offers to students and staff alike, as well as a listening ear to whoever may need it.
“Coming out is the process LGBTQ+ people undergo to help discover their sexual identity or gender identity,” Ms. Lee stated. As a part of the community, she feels that it’s important to give students the opportunity to have others to confide in as they begin to discover and understand themselves. As in several other Howard County schools, she shared resources from the Human Rights Campaign about National Coming Out Day.
In addition, Ms. Lee shared her own journey with her sexual and gender identity during her presentation. When she came to understand her identity and told her parents, they were supportive in some aspects, but hesitant in others. At that time, it greatly helped her to be able to talk to her friends about her thoughts, and made her realize how important it was to have support from others.
Now as an adult member of the community, she tries to give that space to others. As sponsor of the QSU, she focuses on creating a safe, welcoming, and informative environment for the students that join. The club’s aspect is more social, to focus on meeting new people and connecting over shared experiences. Because of this, it’s also open to people who don’t identify with the community, but wish to support.
Although National Coming Out day has passed, Mrs. Lee encourages all students to celebrate their identities with pride, and join them in room C153 at 2:15 every Monday afternoon.