PLUS: LGBTQ+ people need more support and less pressure in coming out


Courtesy of the Baltimore Banner/Taneen Momeni

LGBTQ+ people find community with each other.

Few themes are more present in LGBTQ+ culture today than the challenging process of “coming out.” 

For young queer people today, the process of sharing one’s identity with friends and family members can prove difficult and even dangerous, with many conservative communities offering little support. Despite this, media and culture continue to put pressure on these youth to come out and openly share their identity with all those around them. The best thing for LGBTQ+ youth, though, would be for our society to cultivate an environment in which they encounter more support, but less pressure, in deciding whether or not to come out.

The idea of encouraging LGBTQ+ kids to share their identities is a noble one. After all, they deserve to freely live as their true selves from the start. Yet, this idea cannot be considered in a vacuum. Letting a kid be themself doesn’t seem as great if securing that freedom requires being disowned by family and friends or experiencing devastating discrimination in their community. Based on these risks, kids should be encouraged to do what is safest and best for them — whether that means coming out now or waiting until they’re in a better place to do so. We should work to reform media around this subject accordingly.

Meanwhile, we need to work to make it safer for kids to come out when they are ready to do so. This, of course, starts with acceptance. Everyone from parents to teachers to neighbors should educate themselves in order to better understand and accept the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth. Going further, more resources should be made available to help develop acceptance and safety in our communities: educational resources, counseling services, and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth are all needed.

Accepting yourself can already be a challenge; to open yourself up for the whole world to see and accept who you are? For that, we need to create an environment in which LGBTQ+ kids feel welcomed and heard should they choose to do so, with no pressure pushing them to make that choice before they’re ready.