Yesterday was technically Columbus Day, but more importantly for thousands of gay rights activists, it was also National Coming Out Day. Held each year on Oct. 11, it’s traditionally the day that thousands of people decide to come out to family and friends. It also is a day to focus the gay rights movement on issues important to the community.
This year has been a rough one for gay rights. Hand-in-hand with the national discussion on teen suicides caused by bullying, there is a secondary discussion about how gay teenagers are being treated. In the many cases of bullying and cyberbullying in the news the last couple of years, a high percentage of them either involved a gay teen, or involved homosexual slurs being used against a straight teen. National Coming Out Day will have a focus on this problem, especially after CBS and other media outlets have put a spotlight on the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after his roommate and another student allegedly conspired to put videos of his sexual encounters online.
Also garnering attention will be the antics of hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, who are arguing their right to hold anti-gay protests at military funerals in front of the Supreme Court. The Baltimore Sun reported that the Church believes that American soldiers are being killed overseas because God is angry about what the church members see as the country’s support of gay rights. They protest outside the funerals of fallen soldiers with banners and signs that read things like “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates F–s.” Church members have also been picketing on the steps of the Supreme Court in support of their agenda while the case is argued inside.
Hate crimes in general will be a hot topic this year, especially after news outlets like ABC and others broke the story over the weekend that police in the Bronx arrested eight members of the gang known as the Latin King Goonies for allegedly beating and torturing a new recruit whom they believed was gay. They also then allegedly tracked down two others who were connected to their accusations, and beat and tortured them as well.
Events for National Coming Out Day were scheduled around the country. Many places held gay pride parades, like the University of Rhode Island’s or Indiana’s Rally for Equality. Candlelight vigils for Matthew Shepherd and others killed for being gay were also planned around the country. The Human Rights Campaign website and others highlighted many of the events being held in celebration of National Coming Out Day so that people could find ways to support the LBGT community if they chose.
Naimah Jabali-Nash, “Tyler Clementi Suicide: Additional Charges Possible for Rutgers Students.” CBSNews.com
Tricia Bishop, “Supreme Court hears case of Marine funeral protests.” BaltimoreSun.com
Kevin Dolak, “Bronx Gang Beats and Tortures New Recruit, 2 Others, Cops Say.” ABCNews.com
Donny Trem, “National Coming Out Day 2010.” MWZA.com
HumanRightsCampaign.org, “National Coming Out Day Events 2010.”