A few days ago, (Monday apparently), it was “Coming Out Day”. It’s a different experience for everybody, I think, even though there probably are somewhat common themes that connect each person, even though they are major differences.
For me personally, I think it’s important to “come out” to yourself first and foremost. And this can be, quite frankly, hard, especially when your self – esteem is low anyway. Of course, with coming out to others, personal safety has to be, unfortunately, a consideration for much of the LGBTQ+ community. Data from both the U.S. and Australia do seem to suggest that LGBT+ youth experience a higher rate of homelessness compared to the general population (some stats I’ve looked at suggest that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT+, even though statistically, they are only about 2 – 10% of the population (5 maybe more accurate).
Talking about safety, it’s not just safety from parents and peers that LGBT people have to think about, but safety from government persecution, even execution. Currently, 79 countries still criminalise homosexuality; apparently, if you add “anti – propaganda” laws, such as in Russia, the number is 79 – 81; eight where gays or people involved in same – sex relations face the risk of execution. Frankly, this issue isn’t talked about enough in the West, (apart from the introduction to Russia’s “anti – propaganda” laws in 2013. Still, even that was brief. My point is, that still, in too many countries and provinces, being LGBT+ runs the risk of political persecution; in some cases that can be quite deadly. Even in countries like Russia where there isn’t a death penalty for gays, there have been reports of gays being tortured.
Another issue that I think is not talked about, even in discussion of LGBT+ issues is coming out later. According to American Psychological Association, most people realise they’re sexual attractions http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf in their teens. However, there are people who do realise they’re sexual attraction later. In this month’s issue of Marie Clare, there was an article (or a small – side column), that featured a woman in her early thirties (33), who didn’t desire the same – sex until she was in her late 20’s, after she’d been married for three years (I think) and had been in a relationship with a man for four more years. How is “coming out” to those people? Is it somehow more complicated? I can sort of answer that (or offer my own perspective). I didn’t suspect I was even different in terms of my sexuality until I was 16, despite the fact that many stats say that 15 is the average age where people realise who they are. It wasn’t until I was nearly 21 when I came to a point where I identified as asexual (and there’s more that have happened after that, but I won’t go on). Now, I’m not one of those people of the LGBT+ community that other people (family, friends, etc), could realise I was “different” and therefore, most likely not straight. As a kid, I played with “girl’s” toys, Until i was about 16 or so, I was very feminine in how I dressed and until 16, just assumed I would fall in love (with a man), get married and have children. When I finally came to the conclusion that I was asexual, quite frankly, it made conversations about marriage, relationships, etc harder when they came up.
There have also been reports of women, who have previously been in relationships/ marriages with men who later find out that they’ve fallen in love with other women. Most of these women that I’m talking about, (from what I’ve heard/ read) do not identify as bisexual and didn’t identify as lesbian before their current relationship/ attractions. I’ve often wondered how coming out is for them. Has anybody had that experience? If you like, you can write about your own experiences in the comments section if you like.