National Coming Out Day celebrates LGBTQ pride

National Coming Out Day is a celebration for the LGBT community that marks a special milestone. Oct. 11 of 2018 marks the 31-year anniversary of the March on Washington for LGBT rights.

The march on Washington made enormous strides for the community in many ways. LGBT people were given a voice and a means of expressing themselves.

Coming out is a unique experience for each individual of the LGBT community. While being gay or lesbian is more socially acceptable now than it has ever been, it is still difficult for many people to feel welcome and accepted in their environment. This is especially common in midwest or southern regions of the United States, where older generations may still not be accepting of the community. National Coming Out Day helps inspire people who may be facing a lot of apprehension about coming out.

“I think it’s really important to have visibility and to have a day when the community can band together to support people who wish to come out, those who can’t or those who don’t want to and just be in solidarity with them,” Forensic Chemistry major Corie Gleason said.

Freely expressing one’s own sexuality is crucial to living openly and feeling genuine and comfortable in a family and community. It is also important to feel accepted in places such as work, church or even at home. Days like National Coming Out Day are important to provide a sense of unity amongst people who otherwise would not have the confidence to come out.

“My sister came out on National Coming Out Day because she never really knew how to embrace that, so having a day where everyone is doing it made it a lot less dramatic for her,” Psychology Major, Darby Toth, said.

***Bre: These are conflicting statements. Reword or check your sources to make sure we are accurate and factual!

With the established Trump administration, there have been concerns about LGBT rights. From the transgender military ban to the most recent law against gay couples obtaining visas. Many LGBT citizens are voicing concerns over their rights and safety.

Trump recently proposed a law that would not allow same-sex couples to obtain visas, according to The U.S. Department of State.

Many LGBT citizens feel hurt and upset over this development.

“He is known for being hateful toward anything outside of the traditional conservative belief, including homosexuality. It hurts me a lot, but it doesn’t surprise me, and I think that’s really sad,” Toth said.

Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, the community has become more open and active. Today, sexuality is often seen as a proud celebration rather than something to hide or be ashamed of.

Pride parades and festivals take place in many cities across the United States. Most are held during the month of June since June is national pride month. June was specifically chosen for Pride Month because that is when the Stonewall Riots of 1969 occurred.

Topeka held its own pride events in mid-September. The events included drag shows, LGBT movie screenings and a karaoke night.

Events held in cities like Topeka are important to enforce a sense of community among the LGBT population. Kansas tends to be a highly conservative state in, and this can make LGBT residents wonder whether or not they can find acceptance here. These events not only bring together members of the LGBT community, but they also highlight allies in the area who represent a safe and welcoming community for LGBT individuals.

It is much more common for heterosexual individuals to understand and accept the LGBT community if they know someone who identifies as such. According to the Human Rights Campaign, one out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian.

With over 10 million individuals in the United States identifying as part of the LGBT community, people are becoming more inclined to openly express who they are. However, coming out is often a difficult thing to accomplish for many LGBT people.

“I knew I wasn’t straight around the time I started dating my girlfriend, and that was kind of how I knew. I told my two best friends that Hannah and I were dating, and they were really happy for me,” Gleason said.

Toth’s experience was similar.

“I always dated guys growing up until I started dating my best friend, and my family found out about it almost a year ago,” Toth said.

Washburn has a club for the LGBT community called Queers and Allies. They meet and discuss queer issues and participate in bonding experiences. Their goal is to implement more LGBT events on campus this school year.

Whether they are out or not, many Washburn students are LGBT. National Coming Out Day is a day of celebration and gratitude for people who may sometimes still have to fight for their rights and acceptance.

“If we want to make America great again, we need to go back to the way it was when we accepted all people regardless of sexuality, gender, race, or anything,” Gleason said.