National Coming Out Day


Copyright (c) by Dina Mazina and Rebecca DiBrienza, 2008. All rights reserved.

National Coming Out Day emerged from the October 11, 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Rob Eichberg, founder of The Experience (a personal growth workshop), and Jan O’Leary, head of the National Gay Rights Advocates, started it. In 1993, after years of success, National Coming Out Day merged with the Human Rights Campaign Fund.[1]

Even though National Coming Out Day’s origins were not youth centered, student LGBT groups quickly embraced the event. Activism on college campuses often focused on providing support for the event. As the notion of “coming out” became more visible, high schools started observing their own Coming Out Days.[2]

In 1991, students at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School celebrated National Coming Out Day by lining the halls with pink triangles, a first, according Liz Galst for the Gay Community News in Boston. Teachers took an active role in informing students about the imagery of pink triangles -- the history of their symbolism as well as their Nazi past. Students were encouraged to take advantage of the educational resources that dealt with coming out. The students involved were anxious to promote “fundamental human rights for everyone” and thrilled with the success of the event amongst their peers. [3]


  1. History of Coming Out Day: 1987: In the Beginning, There Was a March". 11 December 2007. History of Coming Out Day: 1990: Combining Forces. 11 December 2007.
  2. Colleges and Universities. Patricia M. Broderick. Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered History in America. Ed. Marc Stein. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2004. p232-237. 3 vols.
  3. Galst, Liz (1991, November). "High School students come out; For National Coming Out Day, Cambridge high school students don pink triangles - a first!" Gay Community News, 19(18), 1. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 582106471).