National Coming Out Day 2021 marks again an important milestone for the LGBT+ Community from all around the world, and on this day, we really should be taking a moment for ourselves and understand why Coming Out is so important for us and our wellbeing.
National Coming Out Day was created by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary to inspire future generations of LGBT+ people to express themselves and their identity publicly, with no fears and proudly.
Are there benefits from Coming Out?
Yes, there are. And we shall not underestimate their importance.
First of all we need to understand that coming out can have positive mental health benefits on us: too many LGBT+ people feel pressure every day when trying to hide part of themselves, and keeping their identities a secret can feed low self-esteem and loneliness, together with many other mental issues that could take these people to extreme actions. In 2013, researchers in Montreal surveyed LGBT+ people (both out and closeted) and the results, published in Psychosomatic Medicine, describe how people who are open about their sexual orientation, experience lower rates of chronic stress, cortisol, anxiety, and depression than their closeted peers. Another study in the Journal of Adolescent Health emphasised how these benefits also impact transgender people: when a young transgender person can use their chosen name at school and work, they are less likely to attempt suicide.
Don’t we see how Coming Out can be such an empowering experience that can lead us to embrace our-real-selves and live authentically? How wonderful life can be when no masks have to be worn and when proudly show who we really are!
Why is it so difficult to Come Out?
You might think that because of the great benefits I’ve listed above, then coming out is something that all LGBT+ people should easily do. But this is not the case. Unfortunately, there is a dark side of this “coin”: those heavy and ignorant stigmas and stereotypes that still represent the “sword of Damocles” for way too many LGBT+ people. Studies show that too many Young/Teens LGBT+ report higher rates of parental abuse. If a young person tries to come out in a family that has real issues accepting queerness, they may experience punishment, insults, or even being kicked out of their home. This alone is huge obstacle that too many young LGBT+ people fear to face and struggle to over, when it happens.
Harassment and discrimination also represent two big fears that the LGBT+ – no matte what age they are – could face and find hard to overcome.
For example, Megan Mooney, President of the Texas Psychological Association, told NPR, “The vast majority of LGBTQ youth in high school experienced name calling on a regular basis, the kinds of names I don’t even like to repeat because they are so offensive.” These are the same people that could experience a similar cruelty outside of school: as of 2019, 70% of LGBTQ+ employees have experienced harassment in their workplace. NPR has written that 57% of LGBTQ+ people have heard slurs about their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Is there an explanation to the above issues?
Unfortunately there is not just one explanation to the above situations, but factors playing a key role are to be identified in the growing extremesim we can find in all religions, to the ignorance of so many powerful people passing on to their “cheering crowds” wrong messages and information related to LGBT+ people: “they carry illnesses to other people”; “they all have AIDS/HIC”; “they brain-wash our kids” … and so stupidly going on. There is a huge disinformation, lack of understanding and too much ignorance to be still erased, but we, The LGBT+ people, are doing a great job in informing people and let them understand that we are all humans, and that what makes each on of us different from one another can only enrich us all.
So, don’t be afraid to embrace your-real-self, because YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If you struggle, if you fear reactions, if you are in a difficult situation, ask for help, we are a community and we must help each other! If you need help, and have no one to ask it to, get in touch with us, we will help you get in touch with your local LGBT+ help centre.
Happy National Coming Out Day to you all!