WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National Coming Out Day
is celebrated each year on October 11th to commemorate the 1987 Lesbian and
Gay March on Washington and the first unfurling of the AIDS Quilt on the
National Mall. Comparing public opinion polls on key issues from 1987 to
today shows a dramatic shift in support for equal job opportunities, open
military service, and inclusion in hate crimes law for gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender Americans.
"For twenty years, the GLBT community has been coming out and putting
an ever-more personal face to issues in our lives, and that is clearly
changing hearts and minds," said Mark Shields, director of the HRC Coming
Out Project. "Americans have come to know their GLBT friends and family in
a new way in the last 20 years, and those relationships have changed the
-- Visibility: The findings also indicate a sharp increase
over the past two decades in the number of Americans who say
they personally know or work with someone who identifies as gay
or lesbian: 72 percent today, according to Peter D. Hart Research
Associates, Inc. In 1987, just 11 percent reported to ABC News and
the Washington Post that they associated with a "male homosexual"
on a regular basis.
-- Relationship Recognition: Today, 60 percent of Americans support
same-sex marriages or civil unions, according to a CBS
News/New York Times poll. Twenty years ago only 12 percent of
Americans agreed that "homosexual couples" should have the right
to marry, according to the National Opinion Research Center.
-- Military Service: A University of New Hampshire survey showed
that four out of five (79 percent) Americans believe gays and
lesbians should be allowed to openly serve their country in the
military--which is currently prohibited under the military's
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. In 1993, NBC and the Wall Street
Journal found that just 40 percent felt that gays and lesbians
should serve openly in the military.
According to a May 2007 Gallup poll, 89 percent of Americans support
equal employment opportunities for gays and lesbians--a 30 percent increase
since the early 1980s.
The transgender community has seen increased support as well. While
little polling on American attitudes on gender identity was done twenty
years ago, today 72 percent of Americans agree that "fairness is a basic
American value and employment decisions should be based solely on
qualifications and job performance, including for transgender people."
Eighty-two percent of America's younger voters, aged 18 to 29, support
equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation and
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgender advocacy group, is marking the twentieth anniversary of the
1987 Lesbian and Gay March on Washington and the first unfurling of the
AIDS Quilt on the National Mall by sponsoring a video project that asks the
question, "What inspires you about living honestly and openly?" HRC created
a video featuring the stories of GLBT individuals--many of whom
participated in the 1987 March on Washington--and is encouraging others to
film their own responses. HRC and Bravo's Outzonetv.com have released video
responses from many stars of Bravo's hit shows, including Project Runway,
Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Top Chef,
Workout and Flipping Out. To view the videos, please go to
For more information about National Coming Out Day, please visit
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights
organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end
discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves
fundamental fairness and equality for all.
SOURCE Human Rights Campaign