Home>Campaigns>Opinion: Reflections on National Coming Out Day

Opinion: Reflections on National Coming Out Day

By Joe Forte and Lauren Albrecht, October 11 2022 1:27 pm

OPINION

Today is National Coming Out Day (NCOD), an annual LGBTQ+ day to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in “coming out of the closet.” First celebrated in the United States in 1988, the initial idea was grounded in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, and the emphasis on the most basic form of activism being coming out to family, friends, and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person. The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views, especially if they live in developed countries.

Living an authentic life, and bringing your whole self to work and in your personal life takes great courage and strength, all of which are attributes of a good leader (gay or straight). And in my experience, taking this step towards authenticity brings many rewards.

We must highlight that LGBTQ people comprise only .21% of elected officials nationwide, far less than 1%. However, we comprise between 6 and 12% of the general population. While New Jersey has a roughly average number of LGBTQ electeds at the municipal level, what’s noteworthy about this is that, as we’ve discussed before many times with anyone who has, none of our state legislature, Congressional Delegation, or statewide electeds are LGBTQ, with the exception of Assemblyman Don Guardian, a Republican. What’s particularly striking about this map is that places like Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, and Missouri each have five or more of these positions held by LGBTQ people. The only places that have less than us are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, S Dakota, Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands (0 each). Other blue/” progressive” states with demographics similar to ours have 8, 14, 5, etc. We hope this information is helpful and valuable as we move towards 2023 and beyond as a benchmark and a starting point for further progress for our state.

Here’s a great resource run by the Victory Institute, a national organization dedicated to training and supporting LGBTQ Candidates and collecting data on it. It’s an interactive map of known LGBTQ representation in the US.¬† https://outforamerica.org/

 

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