It’s unfortunate that in this day and age, sexuality is still a very taboo subject. Despite an increased presence in the media, popular culture, and mainstream society, many young people still feel the need to hide their sexuality for fear of the consequences the truth might bring. Even if you know you have a supportive family and a wonderful group of friends who will accept and love you, coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is an extremely emotional, and personal, moment, one you will remember your entire life.
With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” new state and federal mandates regarding sexual orientation, and Gay Straight Alliances popping up in schools across the country, LGBT youth now have a greater number of resources and signs of acceptance than ever before. Although there has been tragedy in the LGBT community, both in recent weeks and in years past, there are many more places for young people to turn to than what was available five or ten years ago. It’s truly amazing to see just how far this country has come in the past decade regarding LGBT equality, but there is still much more that needs to be done. And it starts with you.
Yesterday, October 11, marked the 13th annual National Coming Out Day, a chance for people throughout the world who might be hiding deep in the proverbial closet to finally come out and be welcomed into the LGBT community. Coming out is an emotional step for everyone, but especially for young people. It’s not always an easy process, but when you finally say those two glorious words, “I’m gay,” even if it’s just to yourself, it will feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. But even though coming out can and will empower you, please do it safely. Here are a few tips from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) on coming out: http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/1290.html.
When I was in high school, I was terrified to reveal my sexuality to anyone. I felt ashamed and alone and wondered whether my friends would still want to hang around me after they found out. There were only a handful of “out” students in my school, but I was always scared to talk to them, afraid that saying what I was feeling out loud would make it real. So I hid my truth from the world. It wasn’t until my first semester in college, when a wise professor saw through my façade and flat out asked me the question I had been dreading for years that I was able to embrace my sexuality and accept myself. Now, seven years later, I am happier than I have ever been before. And it’s all because I finally came out to the most important person: myself.
So join me and come out of hiding and into a world of love and acceptance. Whether you come out to a family member, friend, colleague, or just to yourself, know that you are loved and that you have an extremely supportive community just waiting for you to join us.