By John Ramos

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Sunday is “National Coming Out Day,” an invitation to those identifying as LGBTQ to go public with their feelings and the goal is to provide a safe space and day for them to do so.

Michael is a gay man who performs by the drag name of Juicy Liu. On Sunday she was with a group getting out the vote at a street festival in San Francisco and, despite the wig and makeup, she said she wasn’t an authentic person until she came out in 2004.

“Once you accept that, of who you are, and able to share that with people and become vulnerable with people is something that is so special that every LBGTQ American has,” she said.

Many people still live in the closet, concealing their true feelings and sense of identity for fear of a harsh judgment from family, friends or society. That’s why Brian Silva, founder of the National Equality Action Team, thinks coming out is a courageous act that empowers not just the individual but everyone facing the same struggle.

“I think our ability to be public about who we are, to be open and honest and our authentic selves is probably one of the most radical things a queer person can do,” Silva said. “And one of the most powerful things we can do to change hearts and minds of the people who still look at LGBTQ people as second-class citizens.”

Juicy Liu says coming out doesn’t just happen for a day — it is a lifelong pursuit to have the courage to be real.

“Everything is, you know, a little bit of a show and the world is a stage, right? And so, if the world is a stage … we all have our part to play.”

On Friday, the San Francisco 49ers released a Coming Out Day video featuring music and messages of support from players and fans and members of the front office.

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