Are you a LGBTQ Teen? Undecided on letting the world know? What Coming Out Really Means?
You’re probably feeling like this is the most important decision of your life, right?
The question may be: Why would I want to come out, knowing people may not accept me?
You may also be asking: Are you really sure of your sexuality?
In acknowledgement of all those joyfully celebrating World Pride this month, Youth Potential Academy would like to acknowledge those youth who are NOT celebrating.
From all the staff at Youth Potential Academy, we’d like to say this to you:
Coming out is a personal choice which takes time and a lot of thought.
Don’t let anyone pressure you into coming out.
This discussion may be with family, friends, co-workers, classmates, and other people in your life.
We don’t all have the same emotional and mental makeup. For some people, coming out is not an issue at all. For some others, it can feel like a matter of life and death.
The truth remains, though, that there’s still a lot of discrimination towards LGBTQ. Unfortunately, our world has not reached a state of total acceptance.
It’s even scarier that people closest to you may be the ones who show the biggest disapproval.
We also want you to know and remember this:
Several historians trace the modern term “Coming Out” to the early 1950-1960’s in the United States. Yes, around the time of the Stonewall pioneers. However, the term originated from the Debutante Balls in France.
And, It was a term of support used by LGBTQ pioneers to welcome someone to the LGBTQ community. It was a celebration to come out!
You were introduced to an entire community who supported you!
Somehow from then until now, the term “coming out” has more to do with revealing a secret than what it actually means at its core.
Coming out is about accepting and loving who you are! Coming out is introducing yourself to the world and all the potential you possess!
Letting Others Know
Other benefits of coming out may include to:
Live an open and whole life.
Develop closer, more genuine relationships.
Build self-esteem from being known and loved for our whole selves.
Connect with others who are LGBT.
Help to dispel myths and stereotypes about who LGBT people are and how they live.
Become a role model for others like you.
Why Others Mustn’t Know
Of course, there are not only benefits to coming out. We wouldn't be having this discussion if it was so. Some of the reasons you don’t want to come out may include:
Not everyone will understand or accept you.
Family or friends may be shocked, confused, or even hostile to you.
Some relationships may permanently change.
You may experience harassment or discrimination.
You may be thrown out of your home or lose financial support from your parents.
How to Cope if You Feel You Can’t Come Out
Always know you’re in charge. If after weighing the risks and benefits, you decide it’s better to conceal your sexuality, here’s what to do.
Trust your gut
Don't feel forced to come out by friends or situations. You know yourself better than anyone. When you feel it’s the right time to come out, you’d have prepared well for the reactions.
Keep weighing all the possibilities
Your internal struggle, whether to come out or not, may be overwhelming. However, always ask yourself these questions: "How might coming out make my life more difficult? How could it make things easier? Is it worth it?" Don’t come out until you have the right answers to these questions.
Get a support system
Even though you can’t come out yet, don’t forget that you’re not in this alone. Look for others like you, speak to a counselor, or call an anonymous helpline. Having support systems in place will help you plan how to come out (or not).
Let go of expectations
What if some people accept you for who you are after coming out? If you have a friend you grew up with who you’re still close with, you can test their reaction on the subject or confide in them. You may ask your friend how they’d react if their role model proclaims being an LGBT.
Parental and Family Support
You should know as a parent or family member that love supersedes sentiments. You are your child’s first support system. They are strong enough to face the world if they know you’ve got their back.
You have to love them no matter what and show support in every way possible.
Therefore, as a parent, when your child finally comes out to you,
Respond in an affirming, supportive way. Make sure you’re not nodding and smiling but giving off the wrong body language.
Accept and love your child as they are and try to understand what they are feeling and experiencing.
Stand up for them when others mistreat them.
Don’t make them feel it’s a personal struggle, connect them with LGBT organizations, resources, and events.
Express your intolerance for LGBTQ jokes in your community or media. You can also point out LGBT role models for your child to emulate.
Here are support systems for you and your child. You’ll learn how to better support your child joining these groups. You can encourage your child to join.
Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – Phone: 202-467-8180; website: http://pflag.org/
LGBT Parents – Website: http://lesbiangayparents.ning.com/
Campus Pride – Phone: 704-277-6710; Website: https://www.campuspride.org/
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network – Phone: 212-727-0135; Website: http://glsen.org/
Whatever you choose, the staff at Youth Potential Academy just would like you to remember that you are not alone. We Love you!
Love you internally and know that you are beautiful.
Latoya Bey, VP