National Coming Out Day is a day celebrated on October 11th by the LGBTQ+ community throughout the nation. The day was founded by Robert Eichsberg and Jean O’Leary a year after the March on Washington, which was to call attention to gay and lesbian rights. Robert Eichsberg was a gay activist who founded a political action committee in Los Angeles that focused on queer rights, continuously fought for gay rights, and wrote “Coming Out: An Act of Love”, a book that inspired so many people to come out. Eichsberg was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and held a doctorate in psychology from the University of California. Sadly, in 1995, Eichsberg passed due to AIDS. Jean O’Leary was a lesbian who practically led the feminist lesbian movement of the 1970’s. She was the singular founder of Lesbian Feminist Liberation in 1972, and joined the National Gay Task Force in 1974, and structured the very first meeting at the White House with lesbian and gay rights activists on March 26, 1977. Before she became an activist for queer rights, she was going to be a nun, but as soon as she joined, she learned that was not how she wanted to spend her life. At the age of 57, Jean passed due to complications of the lungs. These two heroes have left their mark on the world and live on it the continuous fight for queer rights throughout the world. We remember them this October, with LGBTQ+ history month, and National Coming Day, and appreciate all they did for this community.
“Ok, so my parents were really supportive when I told them I’m gay but my extended family wasn’t. I was really scared to tell them because since I was little they would always say ‘if you were gay you wouldn’t be part of the family’ so it took a lot of courage to finally tell them but I did eventually because I was tired of hearing homophobic comments around them. They didn’t talk to me for a while but recently they’ve been a little better but we never really talk about it. My mom was the most supportive person about it though. She told me that she loves me the same no matter what and I really appreciate her for that!” – anonymous student
South High School celebrates this day during Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club. The meeting started with a video educating the members on queer history, as to celebrate October. Queer history is rich, long, and ongoing. In the 1920s, homosexuals were referred to as homophiles, and in the 1950s, the Mattachine Society was created and became one of the first LGBT organization in the United States. The video taught things to the students that they wouldn’t have learned elsewhere, as most classrooms do not teach the history or oppression of this group as they should.
“I didn’t really ever come out…I figured ‘huh let’s date a girl and if people find out then yay go them” – anonymous student
Students throughout the club shared their stories of the struggles and successes in coming out to their loved ones. Some stories were funny, and laughable, while others could make even the toughest men cry. One student’s mother told the entire extended family of their sexuality without the student’s permission or knowledge, where another student came out to her best friend while they were talking about frogs on their way to the ice cream shop. “I came out to my mom as not straight on a ski lift, and then I came out to my dad as not straight on April 1st, and then I said “April fools!”, says South student Isabel Reaville. The meeting was extremely moving, as children and teachers alike shared the struggles of being queer in today’s society, and told stories about friends and family not accepting them.
“So I’m sharing this because it is kinda crazy…So I wrote a letter to my eighth grade English teacher because she said we could talk to her about anything and it was a rough time in my life. So I wrote about being bisexual and about other stuff but I never sent it. I threw it in the trash but my mom saw the first line and thought it was an essay and pulled it out.”- anonymous student
GSA meets every Thursday in Mr. Craig’s classroom in room 203. All you need to do to join is simply walk into the classroom, and you will be welcome with open arms. Moreover, to learn more about queer culture, Mr. Craig teaches a Queer Lit class that lasts one semester. In this class you can learn about queer literature, art, and history.