By Ryan Kirker, PA-C, Physician Assistant
Cooper Care Alliance and Cooper Center for LGBTQ+ Health
Today is National Coming Out Day (NCOD), and Cooper is proud to join in celebrating our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer+ voices. NCOD first originated back in 1988 by two queer activists, Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary who recognized the importance of power in visibility. To quote Eichberg, “Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes”.
The first celebration of NCOD was on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987, a time of protesting the federal government’s lack of action on the growing AIDS epidemic, equality rights, and recognition of the LGBTQ+ community. Since then, this day has evolved into a celebration of collective joy, liberation and community that comes with living as visible and authentically queer in our everyday lives. The act of coming out involves much more than revealing identities, it involves sharing your truth and empowers others to live their own. With Gallup Poll research this year noting that the percentage of U.S. adults identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community at 7.1% (from last reported 5.6% in 2020), NCOD has become increasingly important and more prevalent for so many in our community. Through the work paved by these generations of LGBTQ+ adults, youth in particular are feeling more comfortable and accepted than ever, with recent reports showing that 1 in 5 Gen Z individuals have come out identifying as LGBTQ+.
Here at Cooper, we have taken steps to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community, including the creation of the Center for LGBTQ+ Health, a coalition of providers ranging across varying specialties from primary care, reconstructive/plastic surgery, mental health care, and beyond, all committed to improving accessibility to compassionate, inclusive care without judgement. Today and everyday, your team at Cooper are here to celebrate and uplift our LGBTQ+ community at any point in their coming out journey!