Bay Area Comes Out on Nat'l Coming Out Day

The day continues to be dedicated to LGBT issues both personal and political.

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    The Bay Area joined a national celebration of living openly as part of the gay community for today's holiday that recognizes LGBT rights.

    National Coming Out Day, which has spread internationally, is held every Oct. 11 following demonstrations in Washington, D.C., on this day in 1987 when the community fought for LGBT rights.

    The day continues to be dedicated to LGBT issues both personal and political. The Human Rights Campaign posted on their website that this year's theme is "Come Out. Vote."

    It is also a day for supporting those coming out to friends and family, and those openly living as a gay person.

    Mills College professor Priya Kandaswamy summed up today as "a day when people vocally say they are gay in an effort to make gays and lesbians visible."

    The women's, gender and sexuality studies professor at the Oakland college said today is often commemorated by people sharing their own process of coming out. In more recent years their stories are shared online, Kandaswamy said.

    An MTV special, "It Gets Better," which aired Tuesday and will be on again tonight, features a Mills College sophomore Natalie Meier sharing her coming-out story to her family after her freshman year at Mills.

    The significance of coming out has received more attention in the past few years with a focus on LGBT suicides connected to bullying -- especially for gay youth.

    Today is to "encourage people who are struggling with their sexual identity," Kandaswamy said.

    At San Francisco's University High School, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who is openly gay, spoke to high school students today, urging them to be comfortable with their identity, according to the assemblyman's office.

    Ammiano was introduced by members of the Pacific Heights school's Queer Straight Alliance and went on to tell the student body about passing anti-bullying and LGBT-friendly legislation.

    This was the school's second annual Coming Out Day celebration.

    October has been designated LGBT History Month, according to the gay rights group Equality California.

    The board of directors said in a statement that on Coming Out Day they "honor the bravery and honesty of all those who have chosen to come out and live their lives openly."

    To watch tonight's episode of "It Gets Better" visit MTV.