Happy National Coming Out Day and welcome to our blog! We are excited to start this new adventure in the JMU LGBTQ+ & Ally Education Program and look forward to everyone reading our posts.
Because yesterday was National Coming Out Day, let’s talk about “The Coming Out Continuum.”
There are three broad steps to coming out and each step will look different for each individual person.
- Coming Out to Yourself: This is the beginning of your journey! This could include questioning yourself about your sexuality and/or gender identity and figuring out where you may fall on the spectrum, or maybe spending time with LGBTQ+ people and reading information on different identities. Your identity is something only you can define for yourself but remember that sexuality and gender are fluid, it can change over time and with awareness!
- Coming Out to Others: This is the period where you first start talking about your sexuality and/or gender with your friends and family. The phrase “coming out” is typically what we think of in this stage. Some people will start out telling people close to them, some will talk to a counselor or even strangers. Who you talk to and what feels right is up to you!
- Living Openly: This can be an ongoing phase after initially coming out. When meeting new people you can decide who you want to come out to fluidly, whenever you are comfortable.
The Human Rights Campaign is celebrating National Coming Out Day and you should check it out! They have a 24 page resource pamphlet online about coming out that goes into much more detail than I did so give it gander. http://www.hrc.org/explore/topic/coming-out
I follow this incredible organization (HRC) on Instagram and Twitter. They are dedicated to fighting for civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community and they are great about getting their message out there. They will often post speeches or quotes from people, or even celebrities, who identify within the community or are allies. Leading up to this day, they have posted about several people who have come out and what their journey has been like along with a video on their website of several celebrities discussing their identities and coming out.
One of my personal role models is Sara Ramirez. Most people, including myself, know her from the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. She played an incredible orthopedic surgeon named Callie Torres who came to identify as bi-sexual a couple seasons into her characters timeline. Although she is no longer with the show, she is still in the community being the amazingly inspiring person she is. Ramirez made a speech this past weekend at the True Colors 40 To None Summit where she spoke about a virtual reality project she has been working on. During this speech she stated “…because of the intersections that exist in my own life: Woman, multi-racial woman, woman of color, queer, bi-sexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant, and raised by families heavily rooted in Catholicism…I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth’s voices to be heard.” This was the first time she publicly stated her bi-sexual and queer identity and it was an amazing thing to hear and celebrate.
While Sara decided to come out during a speech, your experience and the experiences of others can and will be so different! Be true to yourself in your coming out process and let others do the same.