12 Oct Coming out – to yourself or others – will liberate you
National Coming Out Day was yesterday. I’ve been out of the closet longer than I was in it. It seems like just yesterday that at 13 years old, standing in the kitchen with my grandma and mom, I thought to myself, “I’m gay.”
To tell myself that was liberating. It was even more liberating a decade or so later when everyone in my life knew. So much easier to quit pretending.
I also thought at 13, “I’ll need to have a boyfriend so no one finds out,” as I watched the two most important women in my life make dinner. I grew up wanting to please them. Being gay didn’t seem like something that would be pleasing to them.
It was a practical solution and it sort of worked. Until it didn’t.
I eventually came out to my best friend. She was amazing. She told me she knew, but didn’t think I’d ever say anything. I told my sister and she was nonplussed. Apparently, my secret was not so secret.
It felt so much better to live without the weight of a secret. So liberating to own who I was at the core of my being. Unashamed.
I told my mother last. I said, “I’m gay. Please don’t stop loving me.” Then I cried.
I believe that’s at the core of coming out whether as gay, lesbian, bi, trans, non-binary etc…, a deep fear of rejection.
It goes from experiencing mild disapproval (my experience) to being kicked out of family, friend group or church to losing a job to being physically in danger. It takes courage to own who you are in the safest of scenarios. When who you are is outside of the norm, it’s way more challenging.
There is no time line. Where you live and how old you are makes a big difference along with the ability of your parents to accept a child who is different than what they planned. Unfortunately, not every parent is up to the challenge, although, people can change with time.
The reality is LGBTQ+ youth may make up 11% to 40% of the total youth homeless population. Another sad reality is that in 2020 the number of transgender people killed in the first 7 months of the year outnumbered all of the trans people killed in 2019.
Safety and financial freedom are important in the absence of a supportive family or community.
Remember, whatever you believe and feel about your sexual orientation or gender identification is valid. Questioning is valid too. You are the expert of you.
The ability to express how you feel and process the implications and concerns about coming out with a friend or family member is so important. If that isn’t available to you, a therapist can be very helpful in offering you a non-judgmental, safe, space to explore your feelings and plan for the future — figure out how to find your tribe.
Being your true self and celebrating whoever that is contributes to freedom, joy, love, and comfort in your own skin. So worth it! Please feel free to call or email me to discuss therapy or for referrals in your area.
For more Information:
GLAAD rewriting the script for LGBTQ+ acceptance.
It Gets Better Project inspiring people across the globe share their stories and remind the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth that hope is out there, and it will get better.
Kate Murphy, LCSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Chamblee, GA, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.