Greetings Black Hills Center for Equality (BCHFE) Supporters,
Today is National Coming Out Day. Every year on October 11th , the LGBTQ+ community and its allies celebrate those who have come out as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, or Queer.
No matter what your LGBTQ+ identity is, we here at BHCFE are here for you. Coming out is a brave and personal thing but not everyone feels safe to come out. We are here for you either way.
We hope that this year’s Coming Out day brings you the confidence and courage to live as your most authentic self and to be brave in the face of any challenges or obstacles that may come. You are not alone. No matter what challenges lie ahead for our community, we are here for you.
I also wanted to share part of my coming out story. I identify as a lesbian equality activist. I have been out for over a decade. I came out to my immediate family and a few friends in 2006 without any issues. I didn’t consider myself fully out as a lesbian until 2010 when I came to all of my living grandparents (both paternal grandparents and my maternal grandmother). While I was ready for the reaction of my immediate family as they were already accepting of a younger brother who came out before me, I was not certain how my grandparents would react. I was overjoyed to find out that my grandparents simply wanted me to be happy and if that meant the love of my life would be a women that was okay with them. Because I am so lucky to have such love and support in my life, I want to do everything I can do to advocate for and support the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. As a lesbian equality activist, I will never stop fighting for equal rights that our community deserves.
I appreciate everyone in the LGTBQ+ community of South Dakota and nationwide who have made the brave choice to come out and living as your most authentic self. By coming out we are normalizing our existence as an LGBTQ+ community. We may have national marriage equality but there are still many other rights such as employment protections that we do not have in place nationally. Now more than ever we need to be a visible presence in our community. As a lesbian equality activist I stand with my community and I will never stop fighting for the equal rights we deserve.
Sarah R. Keppen
Vice President, Black Hills Center for Equality (BHCFE)