LONGVIEW - We've all heard the term 'coming out the closet' and today is "national coming out day."
A day when the LGBTQ community celebrates the very first time they told their loved ones about their gender identity.
Twenty-eight years ago, the LGBTQ community led a march in Washington for lesbian and gay rights. Since then, Oct. 11 is recognized as national coming out day.
For some, seeing this day arrive on the calendar helps them muster enough courage to finally be honest with the people around them.
“My 'coming out' was in California, so when I moved to East Texas, I was already out,” Christoper Manley said.
When Manley was in high school, he opened up to his friends before his family. So, when it was time to tell his mother.
“It was easier for me, they told me that they still love me,” Manley said.
It wasn't as bad as he thought it'd be, but every experience of coming out isn't the same.
“It was traumatic, I was one of those people it was everything I feared it would be,” Robert Phillips said.
Phillips is the pastor of Woodlands Christian church, it's the only opening and affirming church in East Texas.
After coming out, Phillips lost friends he knew for years, changed his career and suffered depression. But this day to him means bravery.
“It took every bit of courage and then some, if it weren't for faith I wouldn't be able to do it,” Phillips said.
Both Phillips and Manley say it's difficult for some to come out in East Texas.
“Every single day I feel kids are afraid to be themselves because their family won't love them anymore,” Manley said.
But Manley believes it's important for people to be more open minded than tolerant of their peers.
“Talking to them is probably the best way to make sure and maintaining an open mind and finding out what's on their mind,”’ Manley said.
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