Authored by Maria Drummond, Youth Services Recreation Therapist
Coming out, or coming out of the closet, is a term most often referring to a person making an LGBTQ identity of theirs known whether just to one person or to a group of people. Ash Beckam’s got a great TED Talk about how we all have closets to come out of, though. It’s full of valuable insight about having tough conversations and being real with each other. Check it out when you’ve got 10 minutes to spare!
Folks can be out to one person, to only certain circles of people in their lives, or they may be publicly ‘out’. Though there are events like National Coming Out day to help shed light on the topic, coming out itself is more of a practice than an event. A person who identifies in the LGBTQ community likely ‘comes out’ to new people regularly, even if they are publicly out, because they may be assumed straight or cis (sex assigned at birth matches gender identity) by people just meeting them.
Coming out is not a status symbol, nor does it indicate how serious or invested a person is in their identity. Though it does often take courage to decide to come out, and is often identified as a major accomplishment for the person that does so, some folks make the choice not to be open about their identity for a variety of reasons, and should not be pressured to ‘just come out, already!”. Each person’s situation is different, and they need our support to make decisions for themselves about when the right time to come out is, or what the right circumstances to be out are. They may be considering their housing, education, or employment stability, relationships, or even physical safety. It’s never ok to ‘out’ someone. Please don’t assume that just because a person is out to you, or in a certain space, that they are out publicly.
So, how can you participate in National Coming Out day? If you identify in the LGBTQ community, and feel comfortable doing so, the day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate your identity by posting on social media or otherwise proclaiming your pride in your identity. If you identify as an LGBTQ Ally, you can proclaim your support (it’s always nice to know who’s got our backs). If you want to use the day as just the occasion you’ve been waiting for to come out to a new person or group of people, go for it! If you’re not ready to publicly declare your LGBTQ or Ally identity, that’s ok too. Just soak in all the love around you, and know that we support you right where you are.
And just in case someone in your circle chooses National Coming Out Day (or any other day, really) to come out to you, here’s a brief review about response DOs AND
The Salt Lake County Youth Services LGBTQ Advocates Committee is dedicated to creating safer spaces for all who access our services to be exactly who they are, whether in or out of the closet. Please feel free to reach out to me at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or the co-chair of the committee, Erin Dixon, at mailto:email@example.com with questions, concerns or suggestions. #youthslco