Happy National Coming Out Day!
Short for “Coming out of the closet”, Coming Out Day celebrates the countless number of LGBTQ+ individuals that have gone through (or that will go through!) the process of accepting their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and sharing that with friends, family or others.
Coming out can come with a roller coaster of emotions and no two coming out stories look the same. Some LGBTQ+ people are fortunate to have wonderful accepting families and friends who celebrate them becoming openly themselves. Others however face judgement, bullying, loss of family or friends or being kicked out of their homes. Because there is such a variety of reactions, coming out can often be a nerve-wracking experience.
How can I help those who come out to me?
Having someone come out to you is a privilege! It means they likely trust you or feel you are an important part of their lives. Make sure you acknowledge this by thanking them or letting them know you understand the importance of this moment.
Celebrate and accept them! You should let them know you’re happy they’ve decided to be more openly themselves and that you’re there to support and celebrate them. Immediate and positive acceptance can remove a huge weight from the person coming out and put them at ease.
Get curious! If it’s appropriate and the individual is open to talking about it, ask about their journey to figuring out they were LGBTQ+, how they feel now they’ve told someone, or what made them decide to come out.
Follow their lead. Remember that just because someone comes out to you doesn’t mean they’re ready or able to tell everyone. It may not always be safe for someone to come out and it’s important to respect their wishes when it comes to their identity. On the flip side, they may want your help in telling others, finding support groups or accessing additional resources.
A misconception people often have is that LGBTQ+ people only come out once. In actuality, LGBTQ+ people might come out many times throughout their lives as they make new friends, start new jobs, and join new families. The first coming out experience is pivotal though, and having the support of friends and family can help ensure they understand they are loved and valued.
Coming out may also be a slow drip process for some people as they navigate where it is and isn’t safe for them to do so.
At Red Balloon, we support each and every one of our students in being the most authentic version of themselves. We’re thrilled when students feel safe enough to come out at Red Balloon and give all our students (LGBTQ+ or otherwise) unconditional positive regard.
Red Balloon of the Air recently earned the Rainbow Flag Award, and all of our Red Balloon Centres continue to work on improving our practices to make Red Balloon the most welcoming and inclusive place for all our young people.
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