Does Coming Out Day do more harm than good?

National Coming Out Day raises controversial perspectives

CTA+Members+Aviv+Crystal+%28left%29+and++Kathryn+Braeseke+%28right%29
CTA Members Aviv Crystal (left) and  Kathryn Braeseke (right)

CTA Members Aviv Crystal (left) and Kathryn Braeseke (right)

Pearlman

Pearlman

CTA Members Aviv Crystal (left) and Kathryn Braeseke (right)

Katie Kim

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The month of October is not only the month of spooky costumes and jack-o-lanterns, it is also the month of LGBT history. This year, National Coming Out Day was celebrated on October 19th.

According to The Human Rights Campaign, National Coming Out Day originated 29 years ago on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The Human Rights Campaign “first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10.”

There’s question in the air whether the national holiday is either a blessing or a curse. “I think it can be both good and bad. Bad because I feel like it can possibly pressure someone into doing something they aren’t yet ready for. Good because it gives them an opportunity to do it on a day where it is respected,” said senior Carson Koy.

“Honestly, I’m not a fan. I think it puts pressure on people who aren’t ready to come out. Coming out is a very personal choice that some people can’t even make because of how their family or friends would take it. I think we should support people taking the time they need to come out,” agreed senior Sofia Mena.

Furthermore, Senior Elle Terrado added on and said “although, it’s a good day to show awareness, it still doesn’t change the problems people have at home or school on coming out. Just because it’s national, doesn’t mean it’s any easier.”

On the other side, some look at the day in a positive way. “it’s amazing that the LGBTQ+ community has a day where they can support one another and can express themselves. It’s great that New Trier is trying to show support for the community and I wish it was more promoted throughout the school because it’s a very important day in my opinion,” said junior Grace Lestrud.

In agreement, senior Graham Rhodes said, “Coming Out Day itself is extremely important because it gives an outlet and erases the stigmatization of coming out, which for me has been one of the hardest parts of my queer experiences. I do feel like it adds pressure to a person to come out. Everybody should feel comfortable to come out when they are ready, not when a day tells them to.”

One possibility of the reasoning behind the controversy of the day may have been due to the approach at which it was promoted. Some may have seen the poster hung up in the P stairwell, saying “help NT celebrate LGBTQ+ Spirit Day by participating in Coming Out Day.” The simple sentence can and have been interpreted differently by students of distinct opinions.

“At first glance, it sounds like it is trying to make people come out but I think the word ‘participate’ means show support and love, not ‘come out’. However, that can be easily mistakable,” said Rhodes.

The poster was made by the CTA (committed to action) club, sponsored by English teacher Rachel Hess. After speaking with Hess, she informed that the motive behind New Trier’s celebration of this day was to “help make support more visible all around”.

            “I absolutely agree with the students that believe this day doesn’t make the act of coming out any easier because that was never the intent. The intent was never to pressure individuals into doing something they aren’t ready for but it was to get people to participate in supporting the peers around them, whether it’s by signing the ally pledge or wearing the rainbow ribbon,” said Hess.

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