What began as a modest effort on Long Island in 2002 now reaches around the world.
On Thursday, the Long Island LGBT Network will celebrate its largest community effort in its 25-year history with National Coming Out Day.
More than 500,000 people are expected to participate in the nationwide campaign, which encourages communities to take a stand against the discrimination, violence, harassment and bullying of LGBT people by coming out in support of safe spaces.
The day is marked every year on Oct. 11. Those who participate wear a rainbow ribbon.
“Our aim is to engage everyone — not just LGBT people, but also our allies, families, co-workers and friends — so that together we can build awareness throughout our communities, create safe spaces and have a more just world for all LGBT people,” said David Kilmnick, the network's president.
Taking part on Long Island will be more than 400 government groups and businesses, including Newsday. Nearly 200 Long Island and New York City schools also are expected to participate, Kilmnick said.
“Many people thought that when marriage equality passed our work was done,” Kilmnick said. “But bias, violence and safety still remain pressing issues for the LGBT community.”