Carnegie Mellon University

Staff Council

The voice for staff at Carnegie Mellon University

National Coming Out Day

Inspired by the 1987 March for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Washington D.C., National Coming Out Day (NCOD) was meant to illustrate that most people know and respect someone in the LGBTQIA+ community. More than three decades later, NCOD continues on as an important tradition and has evolved in its meaning to community members. It raises conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of being more and less visible for LGBTQIA+ community members. It calls into consideration the safety and privilege needed for one to be out, which not everyone is afforded. A common community response to events like NCOD highlight the need for visibility 24/7, not just one day of the year. At the crux of it all, NCOD generates dialogue around being seen as LGBTQIA+ community members and allies, whether out or not.

CMU Celebrates National Coming Out Day 


What does National Coming Out Day mean to you?

  • Growing up as a queer, black cis identified woman, I did not know of National Coming Day until my late teens. I think that one of the reasons I was unaware of this day was because a lot of my adolescence was rooted daily in grappling with my identity and what it means to balance the intersection of being black and identifying within the queer community. This is specifically because being anything other than straight was framed as an act against God, and was “unheard of” for communities of color. The idea of National Coming Out Day was ongoing for me. As an adult, I still grapple with the idea of National Coming Out Day. Specifically, I ask myself questions such as “who was it really for”, “where (geographically and historically) is this day acknowledged and genuinely celebrated,” would a person of color be met with the same love and affirming support as a white person.” In theory, I feel that NCOD is a great opportunity for folx who wish to utilize it, but to me, NCOD is not limited to a day, it’s a lifelong, fluid journey. - Anonymous
  • My own "coming out day" was Memorial Day 1989 but it is important to acknowledge the "coming out." - John C. "Jay" Marano, Jr., Director of Trademark Licensing, The Trademark Licensing  Office.
  • To men, NCOD is a day of reaffirmation to live as my authentic self, which can be scary even in the most supportive spaces. Choosing to be visible requires a certain amount of courage and privilege, which I hope serves as one point of representation for those who hold similar identities. - Mikey T., Department of Psychology
  • It's a day of visibility. We deserve to feel safe, acknowledged, respected, and represented, rather than silenced. And every identity under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella should be recognized. Even though I look like I'm in a hetero relationship, I'm still bisexual. I present femme AND I'm nonbinary. - Ashley Cross, MSCF, Member of TINA
  • NCOD gives those who want to be honest and public about themselves courage an excuse to do so if they haven't found one yet. Since it is nationally recognized, those coming out for the first time know they aren't alone. - E. Forney, College of Engineering Communications
  • National Coming Out Day has always been an opportunity for me to live as my most authentic self and find a community that supports and understands the things I've known about myself since I was very young (being nonbinary and bisexual). - Hannah C. Gunderman - CMU Libraries
  • For me NCOD is an annual reminder for me to pause and consider my own coming out journey and to learn and appreciate from the experiences of others. - Holly Hippensteel, Student Affairs
  • Building a community of allies, advocates and supporters devoted to equality, justice and respect regardless of ones sexual orientation, race or how they identify. - Anonymous 
  • National Coming Out Day provides a safe space for all questioning people to see the love and support they have around them. Ally's, and other members of the LGBTQ+ community who have come before them stand tall and share their stories will hopefully provide strength." - Sarah Smith, College of Engineering

What's something that you've read, listened to, or watched that was meaningful to you as an LGBTQIA+ community member or ally?

  • As an adult, one of the most meaningful pieces of media that I watched was a short documentary on the life of Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old black person who identified as a lesbian and was murdered after rejecting the advances of a man at a bus stop. I still struggle with this case, and specifically the lack of media attention it received in comparison to the murder of Matthew Shepard (a murder that occurred years earlier). As a result, I believe in being mindful and cognizant of how privileged identities (such as being white) still serve as dominant narratives, even when those dominant identities intersect with minoritized ones. - Anonymous
  • "The Best Little Boy in the World" by Andrew Tobias. This book was first published in 1973 under the pseudonym "John Reid" Its is about coming to terms with one's true identity This memoir helped me cope 32 years ago when I came out at 26. - John C. "Jay" Marano, Jr., Director of Trademark Licensing, The Trademark Licensing Office.
  • The television show Pose has been the most transformative show I've watched recently in that it highlights the stories of black trans women and queer POC who have historically been ignored in discussions of LGBTQ history while showcasing the resilience of the queer community. - Mikey T., Department of Psychology
  • I'm a kid at heart, so I'll say the Shera: Princesses of Power reboot on Netflix. There are many LGBTQIA+ characters in lead roles and the conflicts they experience are highly relevant to our community. I wish I had a show like this when I was growing up. I'm thankful this generation has it. - Ashley Cross, MSCF, Member of TINA
  • I really enjoyed The Magnus Archives, a horror podcast about a paranormal investigation institute, the archivist recording creepy stories, and his coworkers. The main character is asexual and biromantic and there are other queer characters who are represented very positively. - E. Forney, College of Engineering Communications
  • Recently I've been watching the show Sex Education on Netflix, and it has a lot of really interesting storylines around navigating being LGBTQIA+ during your high school years. I wish this show was around when I was in high school as it probably would have been so helpful for me. - Hannah C. Gunderman - CMU Libraries
  • As someone who identifies as both Lesbian and Christian, I found this excerpt from the book Untamed by Glennon Doyle particularly poignant. It is called "Knots" and is dedicated to Glennon's wife Abby. You can watch Glennon read the piece here. - Holly Hippensteel, Student Affairs
  • "And Tango Makes Three" - I'm a mother of young children and this book is great for introducing the idea that families come in all forms (not just heteronormative ones). - Katie Walsh, Eberly Center
  • I will date myself, but having Showtime be a leader in this space when I was growing up almost gave me permission to explore my sexuality. Queer as Folk was certainly the first time I saw a Lesbian couple portrayed on TV. - Sarah Smith, College of Engineering
  • The Queering the Way for National Coming Out Day event hosted by CMU on October 6 was so educational for me. The panelists brought such diversity of perspectives and I learned something from every one of them. I also thought that Mark D’Angelo, who facilitated, had incredibly powerful remarks, too. - Mandi Semple, Director of Marketing and Communications for Student Affairs

If you could say one thing to our campus LGBTQIA+ community members, what would it be?

  • It is okay to "be out" at CMU. - John C. "Jay" Marano, Jr., Director of Trademark Licensing, The Trademark Licensing Office.
  • If I could say one thing to our campus LGBTQIA+ community members, I’d say that just because we may all identify within the community, that does not make us void of other identities that have the potential to harm others. Always be mindful of your full self in relation to others, and seek to truly be inclusive of others, not just the ones who look like you. - Anonymous
  • I see the strength in you being your authentic self and I admire you. - Mikey T., Department of Psychology
  • You are valid. And I am so glad you are here today. - Ashley Cross, MSCF, Member of TINA
  • There are many ways to be queer. Queer folks and our straight allies are learning things about queerness all the time. Be patient, meet people where they are, listen, and educate others when you can. - E. Forney, College of Engineering Communications
  • Finding your network on campus is so important. You aren't alone, and having people that understand you and what it means to be LGBTQIA+ can greatly enrich your experience here. -Hannah C. Gunderman - CMU Libraries
  • I see you, you belong here, we are better because you are a part of us. - Holly Hippensteel, Student Affairs
  • The Journey hasn't been easy, But we are still Standing, Laughing, Forgiving, Loving, Learning and Living. - Anonymous 
  • Keep showing up, being there, supporting our community. There is so much division in the world- let our community be an example of how we love and support each other. - Sarah Smith, College of Engineering
  • What I would say to LGBTQIA+ community members is that wherever you are in your life journey, I support you. If you’re feeling pain or isolated, I hope that leaves you soon because you shouldn’t feel those ways and don’t deserve to. You are human, as we all are, and are perfectly made the way you are. - Mandi Semple, Director of Marketing and Communications for Student Affairs

Questions or comments? Contact Noah Riley at or Katie Walsh at