Today is National Coming Out day, which helps to provide national awareness to the coming out process and issues relating to it. With a national day specifically set aside for this process, pressure could mount for youth to feel like they have to come out. It is important to recognize that coming out is a process, rather than a once in a lifetime event. Therefore, although it is not the intention of a national awareness day to increase pressure, it is still important to address that this could happen.
When I work with individuals who are considering coming out, I ask them questions to make sure they are their own first priority. When coming out, it is important that you are doing this for yourself. I could recite to you what benefits I see in doing this, but this is not my life we’re talking about here. So I push people to recognize and work to be comfortable with their own values. For example, if someone values personal relationships at work, they are more likely to want to come out at work because they feel that they have bonded and respect those who they work with. If they value relationships less, and money more, then it may be a more difficult decision to make of when to come out in the workplace. Either way, you will be much better equipped to deal with the positive and negative reactions of others if you are comfortable with your decision. The best way to be comfortable with it is to know why you are making it and the benefits that you see in doing so.
National Coming Out day is a national recognition day that can help us recognize the bravery it takes to come out and to encourage those who are ready. However it is also a day where we need to keep in mind that many are not ready, and it is our job as a society to help, rather than pressure them. Portraying “I’m here when you’re ready” can help a loved one by letting them know they have someone to go to who can help them through this process. When that person has come out and accepted themselves and is ready to tell others about this, self-esteem will be solid enough to deal with the bumps in the road.