Last year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) conducted a study revealing that nearly half of LGBTQ people in the U.S. remain closeted at their workplace. Despite significant legal and social progress – including corporate policies embracing LGBTQ inclusion – 53 percent of LGBTQ workers reported hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at the office, and one in five said they have been told by coworkers to dress more feminine or masculine.
This is but one indicator of why it’s important to recognize National Coming Out Day. Started in 1988, the day – held on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights – is based on the idea that homophobia festers in spaces of silence and ignorance. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far less likely to maintain discriminatory views.
At a company like Levi Strauss & Co., which has been named one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” for 16 consecutive years, it can be easy to forget the importance of coming out. But as the co-chair of LS&Co.’s LGBTQ employee resource group, Jake Little, said, “When we come out, we act from a space of truth and authenticity to show the world the fullness of our humanity – by so doing, declare that we are worthy of dignity, respect, and love.”
Below, our employees share why coming out still matters.