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LGBTQIA+ community members reflect on struggles, triumphs of coming out

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Posted at 5:51 PM, Oct 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 18:51:15-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 as a way to raise awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community and its civil rights movement.

October 11th was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the National March on Washington for lesbian and gay rights.

According to CNN, a new Gallup poll shows more adults in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ than they did a decade ago.

The percentage of adults who told Gallup they identify as LGBTQ has doubled since 2021 from 3.5% of Americans to 7.1% of Americans in 2021.

David Whitner, the secretary for the board of Kansas City PFLAG, says it has been refreshing to see the narrative and dialogues around the LGBTQIA+ community change over the last few decades. He believes it really speaks to a new level of authenticity, honesty and clarity that did not exist 20 years ago.

“Members of the LGBTQ community are on a journey as well — it is not a journey that is over," Whitner said. "Just as people who we seek to have as our allies are similarly on a journey of understanding, and compassion and embrace a fuller understanding of how we contribute to the community and how our contributions may enrich their lives."

Whitner says while the LGBTQIA+ community should be celebrated everyday, special holidays like National Coming Out Day provide a unique opportunity to commemorate people’s achievements, struggles and the liberations they have experienced from living their authentic lives.

There has been a lot of progress as it relates to social acceptance in the last 20 years, but Whitner believes there are still huge strides to make. Especially, in the health and education sectors.

According to, one in seven LGBT people have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination. And in universities, two in five LGBT students have hidden their identities for fear of discrimination.

A lot of people who are going through transition don’t have access to the medication, to the surgeries that it may take to live their most authentic lives," Whitner said. "Education is a huge issue — of course there are book bans and there are ban on transgender athletes in the high school and colleges."

Justice Horn, an openly gay community member, says he struggled with the hyper-masculinity of collegiate sports.

Growing up in a Mormon household in Blue Springs, and then moving to South Dakota where he played football, wrestled and ran track and field on scholarship presented a lot of challenges he could not have prepared for.

“You are just trying to assimilate to survive, so it was really hard for me in you know hiding who I was to navigate those spaces,” Horn said. “Being openly gay and being outspoken, and even being a wrestler, just my mere existence was a protest.”

Horn’s biggest fear was push back from his university and his coaches. He felt there were virtually no protections for gay athletes at the time.

You know, being shunned by the university and, you know, just losing everything I worked so hard for,” he said. “My coach could have just said you’re off the team.”

Now as a proud, gay man in the community, Horn feels a level of duty to enact change for those coming up. His proudest accomplishment is the creation of the LGBTQ+ commission in December of 2020.

“Although it’s one step or one inch, one day, you know, you look back and it’s progress,” Horn said. “I believe leaders are supposed to create leaders and ensure that something goes well past you. If I was to go tomorrow, this commission would still ensure our community has a seat at the table."