Donovan about Coming Out Day

To me, Coming Out Day is a day that raises awareness of people in the LGBTQ+ world and the need for them to feel able to be who they are.

Donovan Liauw

Student at Rotterdam School of Management

Coming Out Day is an annual LGBTQ+ awareness day. It was founded in the United States in 1988 and is now observed globally to celebrate coming out and raise awareness about civil rights and oppressive views of society. Recently, “coming out” also expanded to gender identities.

Donovan: "To be honest, I didn't know about Coming Out Day when I was still in the closet. I walked my own path without much encouragement. Even though Coming Out Day shouldn't be a day when you actually come out of the closet, Coming Out Day to me is a day that raises awareness of people in the LGBTQ+ world and the need for them to feel able to be who they are. We should recognise that people like me aren’t like everyone else and people who are in the closet need support.

I experienced a lot of pressure from my culture and society back when I lived in Surinam. Being gay there is really difficult because society is not very liberal and open-minded. Coming from a Chinese background in Surinam, there’s the tradition of having to continue the family lineage. This made it even more difficult, because I didn’t want to be a disappointment to my family.

My life before coming out was hard. I felt a lot of emotions and anger piling up because I didn’t accept myself and the fact that I am gay. I felt darkness, loneliness and sadness. When I moved to Rotterdam, I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, especially because my family lived back in Surinam and moving to the Netherlands was a big change in itself. The fact that I reached a point when I had to let go of everything turned me inside out. I noticed this at work, in class, it affected everything. Even my friends told me so. Then I said to myself: I have to be who I am and I have to tell. Coming out took a load off my shoulders. Finally, I could be who I really am. I felt so much happier and opened up to everyone.

I think it's important that people are free to express who they are. Society is changing and our population is growing. There are still rules and laws that limit freedom or stop us from being who we are. Why do we have to comply to a perfect image if this image doesn’t exist? I hope that everyone, whatever their orientation, finds their freedom. Coming Out Day teaches us about the hardships you have to face when you want to come out of the closet. But at the same time, it opens a lot of doors for people. My wish is for people to stay open-minded. Don't judge too fast and accept someone for who they are."

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