National Coming Out Day is Oct. 11
National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, is dedicated to raising awareness of civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
Thirty-two years ago, on the anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day was first observed as a reminder of the power of coming out. Coming out is people's self-disclosure of their sexual orientation or of their gender identity and is considered one of the most courageous acts any LGBTQ+ person can make.
Many will celebrate the day as a time to acknowledge gay pride and the gay community. And many others will use the day as an opportunity to come out to family and friends.
“National Coming Out Day provides an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to live their authentic selves at work, at home and in the community,” says Ian Barrett, EdD, MBA, Barnes-Jewish Hospital vice president of human resources and BJC SPECTRA Connection group executive sponsor. “It takes a lot of energy to hide yourself from loved ones and colleagues. For allies, National Coming Out Day is an opportunity to provide visible support and affirmatively say, ‘I know and support LGBTQ+ people, and together we’re one community.’”
Members of the LGBTQ+ community often come out many times throughout their lives to different people, including their co-workers. Research from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, an LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, shows that nearly 50% of LGBTQ+ Americans are in the closet at work. The organization believes that recognizing National Coming Out Day helps to create more awareness and allies for the LGBTQ+ community on and off the job.
One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. When people know someone who is LGBTQ+, they are far more likely to support equality under the law.
BJC continues to provide a supportive and inclusive work environment for LGBTQ+ team members:
• BJC offers trans-inclusive benefits to employees and their covered spouse, which include gender affirmation treatments and procedures.
• Employee engagement surveys include questions to self-identify LGBTQ+ status.
• SPECTRA, the BJC Connection group open to all LGBTQ+ employees and allies, has experienced significant growth and increased participation in St. Louis PrideFest activities in recent years.
The BJC SPECTRA Connection group is open to all BJC lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (LGBTQ+) team members, as well as allies. SPECTRA stands for Support, Pride, Equality, Camaraderie, Trust, Respect and Alliance. The group focuses on volunteerism and training BJC team members to better support the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The group’s accomplishments over the past year include having the largest showing yet by BJC at PrideFest and the organization-wide support by employees for National Coming Out Day,” says Megan Gallagher, BJC Institute for Learning and Development ITMS analyst/Epic liaison and BJC SPECTRA Connection co-lead.
“National Coming Out Day encourages us to know and apply the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they would like to be treated. Continuing to raise this awareness remains pivotal for growth in our modern society,” Gallagher says. “National Coming Out Day can be celebrated as a platform, at BJC and in our communities, to provide safe opportunities for all to engage others in meaningful conversations.”
Diversity and inclusion are a big part of BJC’s identity, and an important step to inclusiveness is connecting with and understanding one another. To learn more about BJC Connections groups and how to get involved, visit https://www.bjc.org/Connections.
Tips for National Coming Out Day — Oct. 11
Coming out is one of the most courageous acts any LGBTQ+ person can make. BJC EAP shares the following tips offered by The Human Rights Campaign’s A Resource Guide to Coming Out:
Coming Out – General Tips
1. Be patient with yourself. It’s not necessary to tell everyone at once. Take your time.
2. Don’t push yourself.
3. Start small. It can be easier to start by telling friends than by telling family. Find allies in your family. If you think a brother or sister or cousin will be easier to tell, start there.
4. Develop a support network of friends who are accepting and supportive.
5. Be positive. When you come out to someone, you set the tone.
6. Find resources or get a mentor to talk to.
7. Don’t come out in anger or retaliation.
8. Be patient with others. Some people take longer to digest the information than others. Realize that they may need some time to adjust.
9. Be firm. Identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) or whatever word you use, if you’re sure.
10. Assess the situation. If you’re unsure of your own sexual orientation or gender identity, find someone who can help support you during this time. Be aware that different people will have very different responses. Finding someone who will support you and also allow you to discover your own identity will be very helpful.
11. Ask LGBT friends to share their coming out stories.
12. Refer parents and friends to PFLAG, an organization for LGBTQ+ people, their parents, families and allies.
13. Be prepared for different types of reactions.
Tips for When Someone Comes Out to You
1. Be patient. Allow them to tell you at their own pace. Let them determine what’s needed.
2. Commit yourself as an ally. Let them know you are accepting.
3. Don’t push. A person who is coming out may have a hard time talking about it.
4. Keep their confidence and respect their privacy.
5. Acknowledge the risk they took by coming out to you. Compliment their courage. Don’t minimize the importance of what they did by saying, “It doesn’t matter to me.”
6. Instead say, “Thank you for trusting me.”
7. Or say, “It doesn’t change how I feel about you,” or admit that it might change things in a positive way.
8. Don’t overreact.
9. Ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
BJC EAP is always available for support. Call 314-747-7490 or 888-505-6444.