First marked in 1988 to commemorate the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day is a day of awareness observed annually on Oct. 11. The day exists as a reminder to the LGBTQ+ community and their allies that coming out and sharing their stories is a powerful, personal, and impactful thing—whether they choose to do so on National Coming Out Day or any other day of the year.
Antara Choudhary and Ash Lubbers are students at DeBakey High School and two of the campus’ 50-member-strong GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance or Gay Straight Alliance). DeBakey High School has cultivated a culture of inclusivity for LGBTQ+ students with the GSA having been established more than 15 years ago.
Even though Choudhary and Lubbers are out, proud, and feel safe and accepted in school, their journeys haven’t always been easy. Both students agree that the visibility of other LGBTQ+ people throughout their educational journey helped them better define themselves and their identities and to feel more comfortable in coming out.
Coming out is a process, one that Lubbers and Choudhary have had to navigate more than once as they navigated their individual attractions and identities.
“[National Coming Out Day] brings awareness to people who are out and proud, and it gives hope to people who are still in the closet and afraid to be themselves,” said Lubbers. “There are all these people who did it and all these people waiting to support them when they do eventually come out.”
Lubbers believes strongly in the power of community engagement when coming out as a young queer person. They are heartened to have experienced teachers asking for students’ preferred names and pronouns in their classroom and looks forward to a future of further incorporation of inclusive language and protections for LGBTQ+ students.
Lubbers and Choudhary are now the kind of out, visible, queer representation that informed and guided them as young teens struggling to parse their identities.
The decision to come out in a world that still stigmatizes and misunderstands LGBTQ+ identities is a nuanced and personal one. Everyone comes out at their own pace and must take into account their safety, comfort, and emotional well-being before deciding to do so.
While the decision is not an easy one, with every visible queer story comes the power to change hearts and minds and inspire others to create much-needed change for the LGBTQ+ community.