National Coming Out Day was founded on Oct. 11, 1988 to celebrate the first anniversary of the Coming Out Parade in Washington, D.C. It has been celebrated on Oct. 11 ever since.

NCOD is an important day to celebrate freedom of expression for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Many use the day to reveal, rejoice and reflect on their own coming out process.

It means many things to people including exercising self-awareness and definition. But what about those who do not identify as GLBT or straight?

I consider myself a well-adjusted gay man. Self-awareness and sexual definition are relatively simple for me. I know I am gay, I began the coming out process fairly early and I have no qualms with my orientation.

Consequently, I always thought that those in the closet were there because they did not feel safe coming out or were ashamed of their sexuality. The idea that someone may be closeted because they honestly don?t realize their sexuality never crossed my mind until recently.

Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of developing friendships with a few individuals who do not identify as GLBT or straight for one of two main reasons ? they don?t like labels or they find sexual orientation confusing.

The notion that someone is opposed to labelling themselves is not hard to understand. Labels are limiting and they bring with them stereotypes. These people who avoid labels seem very assured and well-adjusted. This is in sharp contrast to the freedom of expression so many associate with NCOD.

It is those who find their own sexual orientation disconcerting and confusing that I feel for on this NCOD. For these persons, the question is not simply ?what do I call myself,? but rather ?who am I emotionally attracted to? and ?who am I physically attracted to?? When these two questions don?t find answers with the same gender, the question of sexual orientation can become very complex.

I am merely speculating when I say the NCOD is anxiety-provoking and not welcome by those who are unsure of their own orientation. Those, including the ones I?ve befriended must find it painful to see a nation hailing its self-assured masses. Watching people who seem to have a god-given insight to a question so many find it difficult to answer must feel slighting.

The one thing that I do know is that on this NCOD, while I?m celebrating my sexual orientation in a way I deem fit, I will say a prayer for those who are still finding themselves in this thing we call sexual orientation.

Lioy can be reached at

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