National Coming Out Day has never been so important

This is why National Coming Out Day (NCOD), held every year on Oct. 11 to promote equality and a safer world for LGBT individuals to live openly, matters so much. Too many people live in conservative areas or with families who are hostile to their sexual orientation. Between that proverbial rock and a hard place, they instead choose to not live openly. While NCOD celebrates those who have come out, the day is also intended to offer support and encouragement to those who haven't.

The roots of NCOD reach back to 1987, when half a million people participated in the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on Oct. 11. The LGBT community built on the march's momentum to form a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization and AT&T's LGBT employee group, LEAGUE.

This election season, LGBT rights are at a critical juncture in our country. With so much at stake for our community, this year's National Coming Out Day has never been more important. Appropriately, this year's HRC's NCOD theme is "Come Out and Vote," reminding us that there's no better time to send the message that we want our elected officials to come out in support of LGBT equality.

The HRC has also put together a helpful collection of resources on all aspects of coming out, including a glossary of terms, how to come out to your doctor and at work, and guides for coming out to your family, which are broken down by race. There's even a guide for coming out as a straight supporter of LGBT rights.

Check back tomorrow for coming out stories of those in the Tampa Bay LGBT community. What's your coming out story? Comment below and/or share it with CLGBT editor Tiffany Razzano to be included in tomorrow's collection of stories.

"I'm gay."

Two little but life-changing words, packed with more meaning, emotion and influence upon a person's every day life than most sentences.

Living in the closet can be a scary, lonely place. But often the idea of coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is just as frightening.

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