CATHEDRAL CITY — October 11th is National Coming Out Day, which was founded in 1988. The date of October 11 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
Everyone who has experienced coming out has a story to tell. I came out in the 1960’s but knew I was “different” while I was growing up in the 1950’s and it was the most traumatic aspect of my life. Being homosexual in the 1950’s and early 1960’s was being “queer” meaning strange or peculiar — there was something wrong with you. You did not fit into society.
Homosexuality was condemned on all fronts. Every religion considered it sinful and nearly every state had laws criminalizing it. In fact the Supreme Court in 1967 upheld as constitutional the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which among other things banned homosexuals. This ban was in effect until 1991.
While times have changed and discussions about being LGBTQ are prevalent today, coming out can still be a very traumatic process for members of the LGBTQ community. Many individuals come from strongly religious families where being LGBTQ is still looked upon as a sin. Many members of the straight community still do not understand that sexual orientation is not a choice and there are still organizations that support and encourage conversion therapy. 40% of homeless youth, which is a significant and growing population are LGBTQ. Rejected by their families they take to the streets and while there are many non-profit organizations trying to provide support for these individuals, the support services remain inadequate.
There are LGBTQ organizations in most high schools and colleges these days and these provide excellent opportunities for LGBTQ youth to obtain support and a sense of community, as well as provide a critical mass to help fight for complete acceptance and civil rights for LGBTQ individuals in our society and around the world.
Some cities in the Coachella Valley have passed non-discrimination ordinances based on sexual orientation and Gay Pride parades in Southern California run from March through November, but discrimination is still significant in our society. The Federal government has recently eliminated guidelines for transgender federal employees and three years after the Obama administration told transgender individuals they could serve openly in the military and have access to gender-affirming medical and psychological care, the Trump administration has reversed course. Discrimination and violence against LGBTQ individuals continues to grow as the divisions in our society are exacerbated by the present Administration.
This is why it is important to celebrate National Coming Out Day and affirm support for the LGBTQ members of our society. Some of the organizations in the Coachella Valley that provide resources for our LGBTQ populations are listed below.
- The LGBT Community Center of the Desert — Learn more by clicking here.
- The Desert Aids Project — Learn more by clicking here.
- Desert Care Network — Learn more by clicking here.
- The Transgender Health and Wellness Center — Learn more by clicking here.
- Planned Parenthood — Learn more by clicking here.
- The Gay Desert Guide — Learn more by clicking here.
- National Coming Out Day: Shutterstock