Members of the Riverhead High School Gay-Straight Alliance received a proclamation from the town board on Oct. 16 in honor of National Coming Out Day.

It was a first for the Town of Riverhead. On Tuesday night, the Riverhead Town Board formally recognized National Coming Out Day and, donning rainbow-colored lapel ribbons, presented members of the Riverhead High School Gay-Straight Alliance with a proclamation in honor of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.

National Coming Out Day was first celebrated 30 years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on Oct. 11, 1987, when half a million people marched for lesbian and gay rights. The march was the second demonstration in our nation’s capital for lesbian and gay rights and it resulted in the founding of a number of LGBTQ organizations, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization.

Following the march, a group of activists came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it.

National Coming Out Day promotes a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly, according to the Human Rights Commission.

The Riverhead Gay-Straight Alliance has chapters in both the high school and middle school. The alliance, which was established in 2014, allows students a safe place to discuss sexuality and gender issues and coping with discrimination, bullying and family concerns.  

National Coming Out Day

Whereas: National Coming Out Day, began in 1988, and is an annual internationally observed celebration of those LGBTQ people who have decided to live their lives openly as who they are, and to also provide support for those who for whatever reason have not, or are unable to live visibly; and

Whereas: The Town of Riverhead recognizes the difficulty, and sometimes danger that many in the LGBTQ community face in coming out as who they are to friends, families, or even just publicly holding a loved one’s hand; and

Whereas: Riverhead strives to be a place where coming out is as safe, and welcoming as possible, and where no person should have to worry how they are perceived when living their lives as who they are; and

Whereas: National Coming Out Day above all else though should serve as a celebration of a person’s journey to realizing not only who they are, but also a turning point from the loneliness and self-denial of concealing one’s identity, to the fulfillment of being true to one’s self to claim dignity, empowerment and self-respect, as well as the tolerance and support from others that is deserved by all; and

Whereas: Studies have found that the inclusion of Gay-Straight Alliances and LGBTQ inclusive curriculum in schools have positive impacts in reducing homophobic remarks and feelings of insecurity among LGBT students and that the Town of Riverhead are so proud of the work that the members of Riverhead High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance are doing to make our students and children feel safe and welcome; and

Now, Furthermore, let it be known that as an ally the Town of Riverhead must continue to make feel welcome those who face discrimination, and seek to keep alive the uniquely American promise that no matter who you are you can succeed in our country; and

Therefore, in recognition of National Coming Out Day, I, Laura Jens-Smith, Supervisor of the Town of Riverhead and the entire Town Board, do hereby recognize October 11th 2018 to be COMING OUT DAY in Riverhead. I am proud to be celebrating this important observance and encourage all residents to continue to work toward the goal of equality, tolerance, and justice for all.

Proclaimed this 16th day of October, 2018.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.