AUSTIN (KXAN) — Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, was created in 1988 by Jean O’Leary and Dr. Robert Eichberg as a way for people to express positivity around their sexual and gender identities.
Since then, the world has changed, with a February poll by Gallup suggesting that 20% of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+. But coming out can still be a nerve-wracking experience.
GLAAD rapid response coordinator Jacob Reyes said while online resources exist, one of the best ways to prepare can be through talking to someone who is already out publicly.
“That is something I really treasure, because we get to live this queer life openly despite the setbacks of today, because of the people from yesterday,” Reyes said. “We should continue to look to the people who came before us, whether it is through media consumption or just talking to an LGBTQ+ elder. That is something that I think would be would be the most important just to understand the struggle and understand the opportunities that lay before you afterwards.”
Coming out can also present dangers, such as loss of family support or domestic violence. He recommends contacting local groups, many of which were built by those previous generations, for help.
“Reach out to local organizers and I promise you, they will find a way to ensure your safety, because your safety is of the utmost importance, and there are people who are looking to provide that,” Reyes said.
Reyes also offered advice to people looking to be an “ally” to support someone who has come out: Make yourself a safe space.
“One of the most important things you can do as an ally…is to make sure that they are seen, that they are loved and that they’re valid,” he said. “The coming out process is different for everyone, right? Coming out is a consistent thing; as a queer person myself, I know that coming out is an everyday process.”