Coming Out Day is a time to shine a light on the LGBTQIA+ community, celebrating individuals who have already publicly shared their authentic selves and creating a safe, supportive space for those who have not.
It is celebrated every year on Oct. 11, marking the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987. First started in the U.S., it’s now recognized in many countries around the world.
We talked to several members of Best Buy’s Pride Employee Resource Group to learn more about what Coming Out Day means to them.
What does Coming Out Day mean to you?
Sherri-Dawn (She/Her): I actually came out last year on Coming Out Day! I remember seeing it listed somewhere and I found an image that said, “Let’s get one thing straight, I’m not.” Family members closest to me had already been told, but this was a leap forward. For me, Coming Out Day was an opportunity to put my true self out on my Facebook page for transparency. It was a breath of fresh air to no longer feel like I was holding anything in. And now, I can celebrate that anniversary every year!
Kelly (They/Them): Coming Out Day is a time for me to reflect on the process I have gone through, and continue to go through, to live as an openly queer individual. It’s a reminder of the memories of the first time I came out, and an acknowledgement of the biases and assumptions that exist in our society that makes it necessary for me to keep doing so. Coming out looks different for everyone, and it’s important to balance the celebration of progress with the recognition of those who are unable to come out and the struggles that prevent them.
Nicholl (They/Them): For me, National Coming Out Day is an opportunity to celebrate the members of our community who have come out and to show support for the members of our community who have not yet been able to or felt the desire to come out. It’s also a great chance to educate people who might be on the receiving end of someone coming out to them and how to appropriately respond in a supportive manner.
Skye (They/Them): Coming Out Day, to me, is an opportunity for many LGBTQIA+ members to have a space where they feel seen and heard as their authentic selves. I feel as though having a day to share your story and hear others is important for the community and can have a big impact on an individual. Pride month is about celebrating how far we’ve come as a whole, where Coming Out Day is a day to celebrate yourself and how far you’ve come with your orientation and identity.
Do you appreciate the visibility?
Skye: Absolutely! I feel visibility is important for all minority groups. Visibility helps educate, motivate and encourage change where change is needed. Visibility helps people feel seen and lets many know that they are not alone. Visibility can give people a voice, an audience and a community.
Devin (They/Them): I do. Coming Out Day has definitely hit the mainstream and made it easier for folks to express who they are, and I’m truly grateful for more and more folks learning about the different identities for folks within the community.
Coming out is a journey, not a one-time thing. What’s been the most important part of your coming out journey?
Nicholl: The most important part of my coming out journey (so far) has been learning how to utilize my daily coming out as a tool. For example, in my case, I’m very comfortable with people knowing that I am a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, so if someone starts to make a situation uncomfortable or says something inappropriate, I can come out in that moment and use my identity to possibly protect others who have not had the opportunity or desire to come out themselves.
Tim (He/Him): The most important part of my journey is that it is still happening. For example, the murder of George Floyd brought waves of introspection for me, recognizing that as a cis white man I have so much privilege that I wasn’t aware of as I felt my privilege had been ripped from me when I came out as a homosexual. Because of that introspection, I have really dived into the intersectionality of our community, which has given me the opportunity to face my own fears of rejection as I speak out against the disparities of race, gender and sexual identity I see.
How can LGBTQIA+ allies help making coming out easier for their family/friends/colleagues/ community members? What can they do to create safe spaces?
Kelly: Allies of the LGBTIQIA+ community can make coming out easier for their family, friends, colleagues and community members by recognizing that inclusion is often found in the small details, and the ways that one speaks about those that are different from themselves can ultimately be the difference between creating a space where an individual feels safe or threatened.
Devin: Don’t only focus on the holidays and Pride month, keep it alive year-round. Use the right pronouns for folks when they aren’t around and normalize giving your pronouns in new meetings. Don’t be afraid to do your own research. I know personally I’m more happy to have a conversation with someone who’s at least started the journey to learning than someone who wants me to explain everything to them.
What do you want to see for the next generation of LGBTQIA+ youth?
Skye: My hope for the next generation of LGBTQIA+ youth is that they are met with a kinder and more understanding world. As a community, we have come such a long way. However there’s still work to be done and so much more to learn from each other. I hope for more safe spaces and resources for the youth as they navigate their own identities, and that the newer and older generations continue to learn from each other and grow as a community.
Sherri-Dawn: I love getting to see how resilient our youth are. There are still some haters out there, but with support from the adults in the LGBTQIA+ community, the youth are going to go far. I volunteer with a local organization for our youth. Seeing the insight from them is great to see. Youth learn from those around them, and if we help give them the tools, they can help build a better world.
Best Buy is proud to be a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality. Click here to learn more about how we’re supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.