TORONTO: October 11th is National Coming Out Day in Canada and the US, a day to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) members of our communities. Egale Canada, Canada’s National LGBT advocacy organization, encourages everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, to celebrate National Coming Out Day!
‘Coming out’, the expression used to describe the social acknowledgement of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is a deeply personal process, and often intensely emotional. On this National Coming Out Day Egale encourages all Canadians to support those among their family, friends, and communities, who are coming out today, and all those who do so repeatedly with every new acquaintance.
But coming out is not a safe option for all Canadians. According to statistics Canada, in 2009 74% of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation were violent crimes, with common assault being the most frequent type of violent offence. As a result, 63% of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation resulted in physical injury to the victim—far more than any other identifiable group. And the problem isn’t getting any better. Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation doubled in 2008, and increased by another 18% in 2009.
The situation is just as dire in Canadian schools. Egale Canada’s Every Class in Every School: The first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools, notes that “two thirds of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, queer and questioning students felt unsafe at school” where “51% of LGBTQ students have been verbally harassed about their sexual orientation and 21% have been physically harassed or assaulted about their sexual orientation.” These numbers were even higher for trans youth, 74% of whom faced verbal harassment, and 37% of whom were physically harassed or assaulted about their gender.
All this, combined with the risks of being abandoned by one’s family and community, rejected by religious groups, and, in over 70 countries worldwide, having one’s rights curtailed and identity criminalized by the state, means that coming out is simply not possible for many LGBTQ individuals. Clearly work remains to be done.
National Coming Out Day serves as an excellent opportunity for all Canadians, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, to acknowledge everyone’s role in making our communities safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ individuals. “Ask yourself what you can do to make your community safer for LGBTQ folks, and if you’re not sure, ask us!” says Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada.
Egale Canada wishes a peaceful National Coming Out Day to everyone, and stands in support of all LGBTQ Canadians, out or otherwise.
For more information: Helen Kennedy, 416-964-7887