FOLLOW YOUR OWN PATH
On Coming Out
Overwhelmingly, society is not accommodating to an LGBTQ identity. In fact the hostility that exists in response to the existence of LGBTQ individuals crosses the spectrum from tacit silence when witnessing homophobia to all out violence against individuals, to entire swathes of the populace condemning the community’s very existence. This is the atmosphere most LGBTQ people are born into and brought up in the midst of. Unless individuals are lucky enough to have been born into a family that is accepting and sensitive to their childrens’ differences - the onslaught begins in the very spot a child is supposed to feel safest – right at home. All of this makes isolation unique to this minority.
This is immensely disproportionate in that purportedly up to only 10% of the population identifies as LGBTQ. Teen and young adult suicide attempts display the same disproportionate numbers. The tragedy is that successful suicides are marred by shame-based silence and cover ups by families that will not air dirty LGBTQ laundry after the fact for fear of ridicule and stigma - so the proportionality of the numbers of such suicides are simply not known or reliable. My fear is that they are staggeringly high.
It is not surprising, therefore, that LGBTQ identified individuals exhibit trauma responses associated with their sense of safety in the world. Why shouldn't they? - It is a world that is built to bully them. This is the field upon which they must then come out and pronounce themselves - as the very people society has deemed acceptable to condemn?
Coming out requires a paradigm shift in the thinking of an LGBTQ individual that is tantamount to walking out of a bomb shelter in the midst of a war. It is beyond mustering up courage, it is about discarding, in one fell swoop, all of the defenses that up until that moment we had erected in order to survive. It is a ritualistic purging of all armor that paradoxically erases the need for it.
This is why this process is intensely personal, can be terrifying and whenever possible requires support, understanding, and love. Practically it also may well require planning, timing and strategy. For example, it may not be wise for a dependent child to come out prior to their 18th birthday or before they have a safety plan in place that gives them alternate forms of moral, emotional and financial support.
While I use the term Coming Out as if it were a single event, it is indeed a process where layers of homophobia, installed by experience, fear, shame get discarded - much like the armor that protected us early on. This occurs at every step of coming out and continues throughout the adult life of LGBTQ individuals.
In fact many of the consequences of having had to erect this “bomb shelter” to survive, come to roost as adults. The defenses we had put in place, including systematic self-negation, now have become maladaptive to forming a sustainable sense of self.
It is a testament to the courage and resilience of such individuals that they seek out support during every part of this process. It is with this mindset of respect and admiration that I work with my LGBTQ clients – you are survivors.
START YOUR NEW PATH IN LIFE, AND BE THE CHANGE TODAY!