10/11/2010 04:11 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

National Coming Out Day 2010: Share YOUR Stories!

Today is best known as Columbus Day, but it's also National Coming Out Day 2010.

Observed on college campuses and in communities around the country, National Coming Out Day is aimed at celebrating coming out as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person. The Human Rights Campaign describes coming out as "the process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates his or her sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others."

The civil awareness day was established in 1988 by Jean O'Leary, a lesbian activist and former nun, and psychologist Robert Eichberg, Ph.D., author of "Coming Out: An Act of Love" (1990). Today, many LGBT groups use the day as an occasion to organize festive events intended to give closeted LGBT individuals the opportunity to come together and come out, and to give heterosexual people the opportunity to voice their support for the LGBT community.

This year, National Coming Out Day takes on particular poignancy in light of a preponderance of anti-gay bullying incidents that have led to the suicides of five teenagers over the course of just three weeks, including Raymond Chase, 19; Tyler Clementi, 19; Billy Lucas, 15; Asher Brown, 13; and Seth Walsh, 13. These deaths highlight the difficulties that many LGBT people face when coming out.

We invite you to use the comments section below to share YOUR coming out story -- or that of a loved one -- for the purpose of "coming out" against hate and celebrating those who fearlessly embrace who they are. Later today, we'll highlight your best stories on HuffPost Living.

[UPDATE: Click here to see a slideshow of 17 of the best coming out stories from HuffPost readers! Thanks to all who shared!]