Today Is Feminist Coming Out Day 2011


In the midst of what seems to be America’s war on women, a student-run group from Harvard University has organized a campaign they’ve dubbed “Feminist Coming Out Day.” Today marks the second anniversary of the event, which, the website explains, “recognizes that mainstream feminism has not always been welcoming to queer people,” but “seeks to change that by drawing attention to the two movements’ overlapping political goals.”

Initially started by the joint forces of Harvard’s queer and feminist clubs, Feminist Coming Out Day falls on International Women’s Day and features the motto “This is what a feminist looks like.” The website has urged activists to submit photos and feminist manifestos to the site’s Feminist Portrait Project, an online anthology that aims to answer questions like, “How do you define feminism?” and “Why is gender quality important?”

Lena Chen, co-founder of the project, spoke to us on behalf of Feminist Coming Out Day:

“We created it as an accessible way to talk about feminist issues and how they intersect with other areas of identity. It was such a success and we got so many people to participate — from our governing student body to various famous Harvard professors. We thought it was really great and wanted to find a way to make this a semi-permanent thing. We wanted the portraits to be accessible online, and we also wanted to see if we could pull this off at other schools.”

Currently, Chen spearheads the campaign out of her apartment in Boston, with the help of Harvard sophomore Abby Sun. Just as they anticipated, the campaign has spread to campuses across the nation, and their Feminist Portrait Project is now accessible on the project’s Tumblr. Portraits from students across New York City can be seen on the website, and this year SUNY Purchase has become a campus partner.

On Chen’s own blog, she writes, “Feminism, like any movement, is not infallible. It’s run and led by human beings, who are flawed and have biases, who are influenced by personal interests, who sometimes can’t see past their own identities and their own privilege.” Acknowledging this, she has urged campuses across the nation to take part in a project she hopes will raise awareness about gender equality. All proceeds from merchandise sold on the site go towards their charitable partner, Bitch Media, nonprofit publisher of Bitch Magazine.