“When I Came Out”
It kind of makes sense that National Coming Out Day is the day after World Mental Health Day. Mental health and mental illness are almost always tied to marginalized groups, with those who identify as LGBT being no exception. You’re probably somewhat aware of the staggering differences in statistics between queer people and those who are cisgender and/or heterosexual (if you want to check out the specifics, you can do so here), especially in queer youth as they try to navigate these identities.
There aren’t that many statistics about queer mental health after coming out. Naturally, they can differ from person to person. Some find being out to be liberating, while others use it as a platform for LGBT advocacy. Others have talked about how negative school environments have impacted them, but support systems to those they trust make the biggest difference.
We wanted to highlight one specific website: When I Came Out. Here, people write anonymous, quick stories about an instance where they came out and how it affected them. The stories differ not just in reactions but how people came out (one person did so through a spoken word poem in class, another did so with a pun to their best friend). While not every story has a happy ending, it’s a safe place where queer people can open up and talk through their feelings.
Most of the stories are by teenagers, but there are some as young as 10 leaving stories and some in their late 20s (there’s even a story from a 67 year old!). There’s a search button, and with almost 2,000 stories, you can likely find something that’s specific to you and remind you that you’re not alone.
Of course, coming out isn’t a one-time only event. Queer people are continuously coming to new people they meet, or may be opening up to one person at a time. Everyone has their own journey and steps that they have to take, but learning and seeing that things do get better and that someone who shares your sexuality and/or gender identity have a positive experience after coming out can make a huge difference.
(Also, if you’re questioning or want to feel as safe as possible if the conditions for you aren’t the greatest, simply hit the “escape” button on your keyboard and the site immediately takes you to both Google and weather.com so no one can see that you were ever on)
If you identify as queer, what advice do you have to share if you came out? What are your experiences with people – both with strangers and with those who you’re close with?