NM observes 35 years of 'National Coming Out Day'
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Unlike more conservative states, New Mexico has seen prominent advances in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in recent decades; a good reason to celebrate today's "National Coming Out Day."
First observed in the U.S. in 1988, the founders believed homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance. In contrast, they thought once people knew loved ones were lesbian or gay, homophobic or oppressive views would be harder to maintain.
Michael Trimm, executive director of the Transgender Resources Center of New Mexico, said it is still about safety and timing.
"Coming out is a very personal thing, and that story belongs to the individual," Trimm explained. "'Coming Out Day' for me is a reminder that people are welcome to come out, when and if they choose to."
Trimm pointed out the Center will launch its first transitional housing model early next year, providing a communal residential program for six individuals. He noted trans residents are disproportionately affected by the local and national housing crisis.
Adrien Lawyer, director of education for the center, said they offer ongoing training designed to help improve relationships and equip advocates with terminology and data.
"I think in the 15 years that we've been doing this, I've done almost 4,000 of these sessions," Lawyer recounted. "We've trained everybody from the police cadets here in Albuquerque to all of the 11 different prisons around the state, to faith communities."
State legislatures across the U.S. have seen a significant increase in anti-LGBTQ legislation and signed dozens of bills into law in 2023. Trimm emphasized prejudice and discrimination are still widespread.
"I don't think the sentiment has ever gone away," Trimm contended. "I think the sentiment just went underground. This is the same sentiment that we've been dealing with our entire existence."
New Mexico bucked the trend of many other states this year, enacting a new law to establish a broader slate of protections for LGBTQ people by defining gender and sex, and expanding existing definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity.
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