You Don't Come Out 'Just Once' A Story of LGBT Acceptance

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 at 10:34 PM
You Don't Come Out 'Just Once' A Story of LGBT Acceptance by Britton Rozzelle
Photo: MCT Campus

I came out to my mother on the morning of Thanksgiving three years ago. I knew for a lot longer than that, but apparently the morning of a holiday felt like the proper time to share this information about myself (it wasn’t, but that’s entirely different story).

I, like many other young members of the LGBT community, couldn’t stand lying to myself about things anymore.

My story isn’t unique, though.

My immediate family knows in full now. Since then, at times, I’ve felt unwanted in my home. At times, I’ve felt lonely. At times, I’ve felt misunderstood and hurt when people assumed I was just “confused.”

Then came college.

Meeting new people, living with new people, making friends– it’s all fine until you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach– something like: “How would they feel about me if I told them I’m not straight?”

The thing is, as a member of the LGBT community, you don’t just come out once (if you do at all) – it’s once per person. Per organization. Per group. It’s a process that, despite strides towards acceptance in society, has a chance of ending poorly if the wrong person learns the truth. It’s a battle between a desire to be open and selfpreservation.

In that regard, I’m lucky.

Aside from slurs or the occasional joke at my expense from people who know me, I haven’t been harassed or bullied in any serious way. I know, and I recognize, it’s not like that for everyone.

A survey from 2011, conducted by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), shows almost 82 percent of LGBT students surveyed claimed they have had problems with bullying because of their sexuality. The same survey reported 64 percent of students felt unsafe at school because of their orientation.

A more recent report out of Detroit explains that LGBT youth are 2.3 times more likely to be threatened or injured because of their orientation, and according to Pride Flag NYC, LGBT teens are reportedly 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide because of pressure at home and in the classroom.

We have come far, but not far enough as a country. I understand it’s easy to call out problems, but things like Georgia’s new bill that “permits faith-based organizations to deny social, educational and charitable services based on a ‘sincerely held religious belief’ relating to marriage” (a.k.a, theexpect- more-no-gays-allowedsigns- in-business-windows bill), are certainly not helping the country on the path to progress and acceptance.

By supporting local pridebased organizations LGBT youth can have the resources they need to not only be safe, but be cared for. Non-profits and charities like The Trevor Project or free2be ensure there is support for the youth who are being bullied, harassed, or harmed.

Because of my experience and learning of the experiences of others— of people who were kicked out of their homes, or had to live couch-to-couch looking for a family to accept them, people who were beaten, bloodied, or scared because of who they love– I write.

I’m writing to ensure LGBT isn’t “other.” I’m writing to ensure that LGBT becomes normal. I’m writing to ensure that people have the same kind of support I’ve found in my life.

I’m writing so that the LGBT youth of today can see a tomorrow full of kindness and acceptance.

We deserve it.

 

Tags: lgbt, opinions, voices

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