Coming Out: Feared or Loved
“Coming out is a big step in someone’s life. According to Open Education Sociology Dictionary, coming out is, “The social, psychological, or political process and act of recognizing and acknowledging a sexual or gender identity within oneself and disclosing this to others.” For people coming out, it can help them feel relieved to finally get something off their chest to someone they want to seek approval from, but is it as good as everyone may think? Depending on how you are raised or the people around you, coming out can be a pleasure process to complete. Unfortunately for others, it may not be as easy. Many people in the LGBT+ community gets threatened and beaten just for being who they are in which hurts no one. And because of this, many have become fearful of living their lives freely just because of their sexual identity and/or gender identity. My name is Amber Tulucci and my paper will be about the research that I have conducted both online and on my own through interviews to find out the points of view of individuals in the LGBT+ community on whether or not they feel feared or loved when coming out.
There are a lot of young people that struggle with their identity and yet they have many negative emotions about it. According to 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report by Human Rights Campaign Foundation, “more than 12,000 respondents, ranging in age from 13 to 17, and from all 50 states and Washington D.C., participated in the online 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey. It found that these teenagers are not only experiencing heartbreaking levels of stress, anxiety and rejection, but also overwhelmingly feel unsafe in their own school classrooms.” Although this is just for teenagers, it is still heartbreaking that they have to worry about their safety in an environment that is supposed to ensure safety. The 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report by Human Rights Campaign Foundation also states that, “Only 26 percent say they always feel safe in their school classrooms — and just five percent say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people.” This means that there are 74 percent of students who are in the LGBT+ community that does not feel safe in a place that is supposed to be for safety and learning. What’s even worse is that there are 95 percent who say that all their teachers and school staff are not there to support them although they are the ones to teach their students and give them guidance. With that kind of issue, it can bring a lot of those students down, making them feel depressed, anxious, and unwanted not just on school grounds, but once they get home to reflect on their experiences at school. It can affect them later on down the road, because knowing they won’t be accepted in school makes them even more anxious about how it is on the outside, what it could be like in the real world. It makes them wonder what could happen to them, because there have been multiple incidences that have led to being threatened, beaten and even death. One of those tragedies that became very well known was none other than Matthew Wayne Shepard.
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Matthew Wayne Shepard was a college student that attended the University of Wyoming. He was an openly gay male in the 1990s although being gay wasn’t really accepted. Late one night, Shepard was kidnapped by two straight, homophobic males, who pretended to be gay. They ended up taking him somewhere to beat him, later leaving him out to die until he was found more than half a day later. According to Chelsey Parrott-Sheffer, “Shepard was discovered 18 hours later by a bicyclist and was rushed, still alive but in a coma, to a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he died four days later.” Because of this, Shepard became very well known in both the LGBT+ community and the United States due to the horrific actions taken by those two men. People began to see the hate crimes against the community and how it needed to be stopped, because at the time there were only laws against hate crimes for race, color, religion, and national origin, but there were none for sexual orientation. Over ten years later, a bill was approved for protecting people against hate crimes called the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. It has been a little over 20 years since Shepard passed, and he is still being remembered today as someone who helped bring awareness to the LGBT+ community, although people started to notice how bad things were for them only after he died.
Around the O wrote an article called, Report says school violence against LGBT students on the rise and in it stated, “A new report from University of Oregon researchers shows bias-based bullying and violence is on the rise in Oregon schools, especially aimed at LGBT students, who experience twice as much verbal, physical, psychological and sexual violence as their peers. The “State of Safe Schools Report,” a collaboration between UO researchers and the Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition, analyzed survey results from 600 schools and 27,000 students to assess school safety and student well-being in Oregon. The report indicates that LGBT youths face unsafe conditions at school due to high rates of bullying, violence, sexual assault and suicide ideation. Those students also report higher rates of fear-based absences from school and mental health risks.” Also from the article, some of their key findings include, “LGBT youth were twice as likely to experience bullying and harassment at school,” “LGBT youth were twice as likely to have been threatened with a weapon,” “LGBT youth were three times as likely to miss school because they were afraid for their safety,”
“One half of LGBT youth expressed suicide ideation during 2017,” and that “One quarter of LGBT youth reported attempting suicide during 2017.” These statistics is incredibly terrible and to have to go through any of this or to have these kinds of negative feelings can create low self-esteem for anyone going through bullying or suicidal thoughts. Many people who aren’t in the LGBT+ community get bullied for no reason, but you’re more likely to hear the media talk about it. It became a common thing, especially in movies, books, TV shows, that kids who aren’t in the LGBT+ community gets bullied, but for the ones that are, it didn’t fully come out into the light. Over time, the media has started putting more LGBT+ people and experiences through those same outlets. It still isn’t as common today, but thankfully the LGBT+ community that was once rarely ever spoken of in the media in a positive way are finally being heard for their benefit.
A big part in anyone’s life is family. Family is what ties you together, whether you like it or not. Usually, the people in your family are the people you should trust and look to for guidance, but many people can’t seek what they truly want. I spoke to a few individuals that are in the LGBT+ community and asked them questions such as the emotions they feel on the idea of coming out or the emotions they felt when they did, why it’s hard for them to come out, and what they think needs to change for them to completely be at peace. Shyra, an 18 year old Malay woman from Malaysia is asexual and aromantic. According to LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary, an asexual person is defined as, “A sexual orientation generally characterized by not feeling sexual attraction or a desire for partnered sexuality.” From LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary as well, being aromantic is defined as, “A romantic orientation generally characterized by not feeling romantic attraction or a desire for romance.” Shyra said that she is “not sexually attracted to anyone or anything.” I asked her how she felt about coming out to her family, and her response was, “the thoughts of coming out to my family terrifies me to the core. I’m more terrified being a disappointment or simply being disregarded as it being a phase.
Everyone has been drilling in me ever since I could remember that I have to be a good girl for my parents, be a good sister, listen to mama and papa, don’t do anything to disgrace the family, do the best thing to make others proud when they talk about you, and let them boast about you so they can know they raised their child right. So for me, family has so much expectations for me.” Shyra told me the idea of having sex makes her uncomfortable, that it makes her feel uneasy and it makes her feel disgusted, and because of this she’s scared of being a burden to her family. She said she would like to have children later in the future, just not of her own. Adoption is an option she’s been considering. Shyra told me that in the future once she is ready she wants to be a single mother by saying, “I still do have a desire to have my own family, my own kids to raise and see them walking through their own lives, especially after I’ve experienced working in a kindergarten and daycare. Kids just make me so happy, so I wouldn’t mind going through being a single mother.” Although she has high hopes, she still fears her family won’t accept her choices since all of the children she’ll adopt won’t be tied to them by blood. She hasn’t come out to all of them yet, but she hopes she’ll be accepted by them, mainly her parents.
Another person who volunteered to be interviewed is Nicole. She is 29, German, and is a mother to a young girl. She identifies as being bisexual, which is when you are attracted to both males and females. I asked her what she thinks has to change in order for people to come out peacefully without worry, and she said, “I think society as a whole needs to be more accepting of people’s choices. We need to let people live their lives in a way that they are happy and not judge every single move they make. I think that’s when it would be easier to come out. I taught my daughter from early on that I love her no matter what and that she doesn’t have to fear how I react because I support her.” Obviously most if not all parents who are in the LGBT+ community themselves will be accepting of their child if or when they come out, but what most if not all in the community wishes for is for the parents to love their LGBT+ child no matter what. And not just the parents, but for society to find out that identifying as something different isn’t always a bad thing or wrong and that what they figure out only affects them and not the rest of society.
After conducting research, I learned that a lot of major problems of coming out involves both school life and family life. You are brought to school at a very young age to learn and to expand your personal identity in which helps you grow as a person. In school, you are usually told to respect others the way you want to be treated, but they should also include specific things on what to not be hateful on, two examples on many being sexuality and gender. As a school, you must teach the students at a young age to respect others for who they are, especially if what they may dislike has nothing to do with them and doesn’t affect them at all. And with the family, as a parent you should tell your child that you will love them no matter what with full honesty, because that is your child and you must raise them with enough confidence so later on in life they won’t have low self-esteem. When things at school go wrong, it’s up to the family to help heal that child’s heart, but if they are living with people in which they know will dislike or even hate them for being them, it’ll cause more self-doubt and hate towards themselves.
Coming out is the action of revealing your sexual or gender identity to someone. It could be for the better or for the worse in some situations. Being in the LGBT+ community, you automatically have to know that you will in fact go through many hardships, not just because of the pressure you may put on yourself, but also the pressure from the ones around you and society as a whole. To be figuring out who you are can be very tough, but to have already figured out who you are can be a very powerful feeling to have. It can give you pride in who you are, saying “this is me and I love myself and no one can tell me otherwise.” Confidence like that is an amazing thing to have, whether you are gay or straight. Everyone should have this feeling, especially if they themselves are good people. Although the LGBT+ community now has the most rights they’ve ever had, this is not the end until inequality towards them ends. They will still seek full human rights of being themselves and they will not stop until they are fully equal to a cisgendered heterosexual. Sexuality and gender should not define your personality or as you are as a person no matter who you are. We are taught to not judge a person by its cover, but more by its character, because if you do by looks or the very limited knowledge of that person you know, not only will it affect you, not only will it affect that person, but it will affect society as a whole.
- Human Rights Campaign. “2018 LGBTQ Youth Report.” Human Rights Campaign, www.hrc.org/resources/2018-lgbtq-youth-report.
- Parrott-Sheffer, Chelsey. “Matthew Shepard.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Feb. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Matthew-Shepard.
- “LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary | LGBTQIA Resource Center.” Pronouns, lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary.
- “Coming out Definition: Free Sociology Dictionary: Coming out Defined.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary, sociologydictionary.org/coming-out/.
- “Report Says School Violence against LGBT Students on the Rise.” Around the O, 1 June 2018, around.uoregon.edu/content/report-says-school-violence-against-lgbt-students-rise.”
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Coming Out: Feared or Loved. (2020, Aug 20). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/coming-out-feared-or-loved/