Today, on National Coming Out Day, as we celebrate the courage of countless LGBTQ people to live authentically, we are also reminded of the powerful impact that coming out can have by changing hearts, opening minds, and moving our country forward. Coming out is a recognition of our own individual right to live our lives to the fullest, but it also helps blaze a trail for others to do the same.
While not every LGBTQ person feels safe and comfortable coming out, those of us with the privilege and opportunity to do so can take this day to rededicate ourselves to building a world that respects and protects all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This November, those of us who have already come out have the chance to turn out to vote for a future where every person is able to live openly.
LGBTQ voters represent a significant voting bloc. Across the country, there are approximately 9.4 million potential LGBTQ voters. In battleground states like Nevada, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida, the number of LGBTQ voters exceeds the average margin of victory over the last three presidential elections.
But the power of the pro-equality vote does not end with LGBTQ people. Equality voters – Americans who are not LGBTQ, but care about our dignity and equality – increase in numbers and passion as more of their friends and loved ones come out.
2016 will be critical in preserving our progress and building on it at the local, state, and federal level. We have the chance to vote for a Congress that can pass the Equality Act and a President who will sign it into law. We have the chance to ensure a Supreme Court that respects the rights of all LGBTQ people. And we have the chance to elect local and state officials who will defeat hateful legislation, repeal discriminatory laws like North Carolina’s HB2, and move equality forward.
Coming out creates a ripple of change. When a student comes out, it can change a school. When a worker comes out, it can change a workplace. And when those of us who have come out also turn out, it can change the country.