NCOD -A Look Back

National Coming Out Day

A look back at NCOD


Organized in 1988 on the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights, National Coming Out Day was the brain child of a number of activists living near Washington, D.C. Among these were Jean O’Leary, head of the National Gay Rights Activists, and Rob Eichberg, who founded The Experience, a community-based workshop that helped gay and lesbian people “Come out” to their families and friends. Since the establishment of gay liberation movement groups, coming out had been a popular political tactic to personalise the issues that faced LGBTQ people. The hope was that if enough people came out to their family and friends that this would lead to a sea chance in the way that gays and lesbians were treated both at home and in culture at large.


By designating a day in which coming out could be celebrated, O’Leary and Eichberg hoped to provide national support for those struggling to live openly among friends and family. Part of that campaign included designing a logo that communicated, with clarity, this process. although only in use for the first years of the event, this logo rendered the initialism NCOD in purple and pink geometric shapes - each element pointing from left to right, and thus implying a forward motion. The “O” is filled with a pink triangle and the final “D” looks like the tip of a pointed arrow. the logo was printed on badges, flyers, stickers, cards and t-shirts. Its embrace of geometric simplicity bespeaks a concurrent interest in postmodern design and architecture to playfully reevaluate design orthodoxy.


Nearly as soon as the logo was developed it was supplanted by an illustration made by Keith Haring of a figure dancing its way out of a closet. While Haring’s design is remarkable for its own reasons, it has , by now, completely eclipsed the organisation’s original design, which possesses a clever under recognised design intelligence.

Queer x Design

Andy Campbell

Simon Hatter