IntraSpectrum Counseling is proud to celebrate National Coming Out Day! While NCOD isn’t a national holiday, it is a very special day for many LGBTQ+ people. It’s an important way we tell the world that we are not ashamed of our identities and who we are, and that queer people look and act just like everyone. And, our stories can be powerful to each other! Browse our blog content ALL WEEK, as we’ll celebrating NCOD with stories, affirmations and resources.
The first National Coming Out Day was in 1988, and the date of October 11th was chosen to celebrate the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place on October 11, 1987. The reasoning behind NCOD is that when more people are aware of LGBTQ+ people living among them, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. By increasing the visibility of LGBTQ people in society, we can break down some of the harmful stereotypes and impact discriminatory legislation that affect LGBTQ+ people in their everyday lives. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other! NCOD gains popularity and participants every year. Since its inception, its efforts have helped to eradicate hate and homophobia with friends and family coming out to dispel stereotypes.
IntraSpectrum Counseling will be commemorating National Coming Out Day ALL WEEK – with coming out stories, blogs, and resources for yourself, friends and allies. Check back often, and take time to celebrate in your own way – even if coming out today doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, know that you always have our support.
IntraSpectrum team members share their coming out stories…
Jamie Gayle, PhD
Founder & Therapist, IntraSpectrum Counseling
I never came out. I didn’t really put much thought into it, it came to me almost instinctively just a few years ago. My lizard brain said “it’s time”, and thus it was. There must have been a day when I first inserted some comment about being queer, or dressing queer (is that a thing?), and then, well, that’s how I’ve spoken and talked about myself since. You know how you realize you didn’t know a thing before and now that you know the thing, it feels so incredibly obvious and silly that your past self didn’t see it? My outness was like that. I didn’t come out, I didn’t declare my queerness or even feel a lot of shame around it, because by the time I grew friendships with queer and trans (read: open and accepting) people it was so clear. Not only am I queer, I view the world and others through a pane of beautiful rainbow stained glass. Forget the binary, love whoever the heck you want, all bodies are beautiful as they are- these are all newly collected beliefs* a past self might never have considered or understood. *(Additionally, capitalism is harmful, racism is violence, ableism does actually exist, and it’s essential to include all flavors of LGBTQIA+ in topics regarding sexuality). Fish (likely) don’t know they are in water. That is how they have always known the world to be, and it’s (likely) fish don’t question the reality of the water or understand there is more in the universe than just this water. It very simply is this way as far as the fish are (likely) concerned. I was an unknowing fish swimming in heteronormative and polluted water for most of my fishy life. And now I have come across a new body of water that has always been there, I’ve found my Queer Ocean. My queerness feels like water, it’s all around me, it’s in me, it is me. I’m splashing around in it and I love my water with tenderness and appreciate my ability and strength to swim. I am very privileged and lucky and incredibly grateful for my coming out experience. I never needed to worry about my physical and emotional safety or if I would be accepted because of my queer identity. I am a fish and also a conglomerate rock who has been gifted opportunities to change shape and grow bigger and more beautiful and weird, and my sharper edges have begun to smooth and settle. Also, I have never had these conversations with my mother. Hi mom!
Tara Ouillette (she/her), fish, LCPC
Therapist, Intraspectrum Counseling
I’ve had more than a few coming out stories, spanning a period of over fifteen years. I grew up in the late 70s/early 80s, a time when it didn’t always feel safe to be out in all of your “circles”. Family, close friends & co-workers – and ironically, complete strangers in gay spaces – that felt safe. But the potential consequences for being out, or outed, in other circles were real. I came out to my parents and a few friends during HS. In college & my early work career I was out with more friends & co-workers, some professors and bosses, but hardly ever with authority or acquaintances. We all knew of LGBTQ+ friends, or friends of friends who’d lost relationships, jobs, apartments, had been assaulted, denied inheritance rights & spousal benefits, ostracized from their families, churches, & their entire support networks, simply because of their identity. It was the early 1990s in graduate school when I started telling my honest story about who I was, every time, in all of my circles. And after each one of those experiences, I felt a little more at peace, even powerful. By then, there’d been a few National Coming Out Days, and two Marches on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights. Legislation was still lagging, but awareness and public acceptance was gaining, and I was more proud than concerned about potential repercussions. I wanted to be counted and to be truthful to myself. Whatever was going to happen, would happen. Hardly anything happened. Looking back, I’ve been incredibly fortunate, even privileged. My family has always been supportive, with only two exceptions all of my coming out stories have been positive, verbal harassment has been the bulk of any homophobic backlash I am aware of, and my wife & I are celebrating 30 years together. For me, time, supportive relationships, and therapy gave me the space & power to live as myself, and to be a visible LGBTQ+ presence in all of my circles.
Marketing Manager, IntraSpectrum Counseling
Coming out to myself was such a process for me. When I reflect on my childhood I can look back with humorous affection at some of my interests, feelings, and thoughts that did not make sense to me at the time. Growing up in the Bible Belt in Texas, as well as being attracted to men, led me to avoid making full sense of my own identity. When I was in middle school, I was teased by peers for being perceived as gay, and I adamantly denied this – including to myself. The idea of social rejection was too scary for my little 13-year-old heart, and set me to be in a frame of mind that denied my queerness, regardless of my behavior. While I was in romantic friendships and had queer experiences, I also was in several long-term relationships with men. I also often found myself in difficult or chaotic frames of mind. It wasn’t until I was in a more stable place in my life that I was able to more openly question my sexuality. Unfortunately, once I got the courage to be curious about who I am, Texas intervened. I went to a therapist and asked explicitly how I might know if I was maybe bisexual or queer. The therapist told me (in a dismissive tone) I should “just go to a gay bar to see,” and I was TERRIFIED at this idea and promptly stuffed down my curiosity and told myself if the feelings were not strong enough to push through terror then they obviously were not legitimate. Having the courage to gently allow myself to be open to me, especially in the face of judgment and a conservative culture, was hard earned. It wasn’t until I found the space to be kind to me that I was able to gently coax out this scared but lovely part of myself. When I allowed myself to navigate the judgment of others, I was able to explore a new dimension of myself and my love. Coming out is an act of joy, courage, and bravery. I am so glad I allowed myself to go through the fear to this side of acceptance and joy.
Kristin Kazyaka, PhD-L
Therapist, IntraSpectrum Counseling
National Coming Out Day Information & Resources
IntraSpectrum Counseling is Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, and we strive to provide the highest quality mental health care for multicultural, kink, polyamorous, and intersectional issues. For anyone needing affirming and validating support in their healing, contact us or call (773) 750-3505.