This year, Oct. 11 marks the 33rd National Coming Out Day. This day is the anniversary of the National March on Washington, D.C., for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
One out of every two Americans knows someone who is lesbian or gay. Only one out of ten people know someone who is transgender. The latest Gallup Poll released earlier this year found 5.6 percent of all U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ, up from 4.5 percent in 2017, and one in six Generation Z adults born after 1997 considers themselves LGBTQ. A 2019 Harris Poll found 36 percent of the Millennial generation, those born between 1981 to 1996, would be uncomfortable learning a family member was LGBTQ.
Coming out of the closet, or Coming Out, as it is also known, can be and is one of the hardest things they’ll ever do. When someone finally comes to terms and accepts themselves and then tells others their sexual or gender identity is something other than straight or cisgender, this is a powerfully freeing moment. They are saying to the world, “This is who I am.” They are hoping for acceptance for who they are from the person they are coming out to.
Forty percent of households in this country are not accepting of the LGBTQ community. About 25 percent of youth are forced from their homes once they come out. Thirty percent report physical violence at the hands of a family member once they have come out. Thirty-nine percent have considered suicide. More than 50 percent of transgender and non-binary have considered suicide. The attempted suicide rate for the transgender community is 41 percent. All of these statistics should be disturbing at the very least to anyone reading them.
So if someone is coming-out to you, please realize they trust you with this information. Let them be the one who controls when and who they tell about coming-out. Their coming-out is not something to be spread like the latest gossip from a ragmag. And yes, sometimes we are not surprised when someone comes out. Other times, you’ll feel like you were blindsided when they come out. Take a deep breath and pause a moment. Let the cloudy water settle. It will become clear.
There are plenty of sites with information about this and the LGBTQ+ community. The Trevor Project (thetrevorproject.org) is a wonderful place to find out information about our LGBT youth. Other LGBTQ resources can be found at these sites (glaad.org) and (hrc.org).
Locally information and support can be found at (triversitycenter.org) (edgenj.org) (sussexcountypride.com). All three can also be found on Facebook: TriVersity-The Pride Center, Sussex County Pride, EDGE NJ.
To everyone who has come out and especially those still in the closet, please remember you are never alone. We are here to support you wherever you are on your journey.
Editor’s note: Simone Kraus is vice president of the TriVersity Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity in Milford, Pa., and a Glenwood, N.J., resident.