Coming Out Day.

Today (October 11, 2008 for those of you without a Calendar), is National Coming Out Day. In fact, it is the 20th Annual National Coming Out Day. Twenty years ago today, two men, Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary, celebrated the first Coming Out Day in honor of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights one year earlier. NCOD is a day to raise awareness of the GLBT community and the gay rights movement.

I probably should have blogged about it earlier. You know what’s cool? Today is the first time that the Netherlands has officially recognized it as National Coming Out Day (they really should turn it into International Coming Out Day since that now makes five countries that celebrate it). I’m Dutch, I can’t help but be proud.

Why come out? There are several reasons. Personal growth, freedom of expression, helping others to overcome their own internal fears and homophobia. Coming out is a huge step in gaining the confidence to be the person you want to be. And politically? Majority often wins the case, so the more “Out” our nation becomes, the more positive changes we’re going to see in our government and social equality movements. We hear the saying “Every Vote Counts” a lot during election year, so think about coming out in the same way. Every out member of the GLBT community counts. Share your story, and help others find the courage to use their voice. Coming out is important. Knowledge fights fear; coming out fights homophobia. Talk about it. it helps.

I came out to a few select people four years ago, and then came out fully to family and all who would listen in May of 2005, originally as a bisexual. As a bisexual, I continually said that I preferred girls, and though I dated a few guys for the first year after I came out, I never really had any physical interest in them and always came to the same conclusion: they were never anything more than just friends. I maintained my bisexuality for as long as I did because I felt pressured by friends and family to not “give up,” so to say, on men. I think there was also the factor of bisexuality being such an “in” thing to be at the moment – the popularity of being a bisexual is definitely high right now, especially in colleges.

I’ve been wanting to acknowledge being a lesbian for years now, and I’ve finally brushed away all the expectations and assumptions and started referring to myself as such a few months ago. Quietly at first, but now with more vigorous conviction because I’m finally at the point in my life where I’m forgiving myself for things in my past, and that includes acting like something I’m not for the sake of others (and man, did that happen a lot). So world, here I am, a lesbian. And happily taken I might add.

My girlfriend? Best thing to ever happen to me. Hands down. I’ve been with other girls, but no one like her, and you know what, there will never be anyone else. She’s the One (with a capital O).

Hi. I’m Nikki Jeske. I’m a lesbian. Happy National Coming Out Day. May yours be a positive one.