Today is what I call Sexual Honesty Day — otherwise known as National Coming Out Day.

ncod1 Sexual Honesty DaySexual Honesty Day was developed by Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in 1988. It was popularized with the artwork of Keith Haring.

Sexual Honesty Day affirms the decision of same-sex-attracted persons to be honest with friends, family, and neighbors. Sexual honesty makes healthy living possible: It enables informed, transparent, and responsible behavior; it allows people to obtain emotional, physical, and spiritual support; it spares heterosexual spouses the trauma of an ex-gay “marriage”; it allows same-sex-attracted people to un-closet the romantic side of their lives.

In short, National Coming Out Day events around the world the pro-equality movement a familiar face for friends and peers of those who are same-sex-attracted.

Sadly, Sexual Honesty Day is hated and parodied by a handful of ex-gay activists, who created a Dishonesty Day in response.

For years, HIV-positive ex-gay activist Michael Johnston chaired “National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day.” NCOHD was promoted annually by Focus on the Family and Peter LaBarbera — until 2003, when Virginia attorney Michael Hamar contacted TruthWinsOut.org founder Wayne Besen. Hamar had two clients who claimed to have had unsafe sex with Johnston, and one client believed he may have been infected with HIV from Johnston. After admitting a vague “moral fall,” Johnston’s “ex-gay” Kerusso Ministries collapsed in shame. Johnston later returned to ex-gay politics and finance, however, through the so-called “Pure Life Ministries” in Kentucky. Johnston has never apologized nor made amends for endangering the lives of his male sex partners.

Meanwhile, Dishonesty Day lived on, albeit feebly: Exodus International tried to resuscitate NCOHD in 2006, while the Traditional Values Coalition promotes Dishonesty Day — and Michael Johnston — on its web site. Neither organization warns readers about Johnston’s potentially lethal abuse of gay men. (Perhaps we need a Double Dishonesty Day?)

Whether one calls it National Coming Out Day or Sexual Honesty Day, today offers people from all walks of life an opportunity to reflect on their level of honesty and openness with their families and neighbors – and to think about secrets that might be eating away at their emotional or physical health.