1n10 West Valley: Coming Out Night – Stories of Cleaning Out the Closet
1n10 West Valley was joined this week by 1n10’s MSW intern extraordinaire Elena Medina for a night of sharing some very personal stories and poignant insights regarding coming out; a situation everyone in the LGBT community confronts sooner or later in their lives. The evening started with an icebreaking activity called “Oh You Do That Too?”, a game where participants divide themselves on opposite side of the room based on answers to statements such as “I love Lady Gaga”, or “I’m addicted to chocolate.” As the game advanced, the statements became more personal; such as “I have friends I can turn to,” or “I am out to friends or family.” The game set the stage for the discussion that followed on the topics of coming out and having support. Participants were given the opportunity to write anonymous questions for the group to answer that ranged from asking if high school was easier than middle school, how to assist a classmate in coming out without outing oneself, how to find support in school personnel, and if an LGBT individual is ever really done coming out in their life. Volunteers shared their own experiences of coming out to friends and family, and youths shared their own stories and perspectives in an age of social media interconnectedness and transparency which balanced the discussion and lead to even more discussion of coming out to friends, family, teachers, and coworkers. The most poignant moment of the night was the revelation by volunteers that the coming out process is never really finished, though practice does make it easier to bear, as well as the knowledge that it’s becoming progressively more common which may lead it to be more of an annoyance than awkwardness in the future.It was an amazing moment to see our youths open up with such personal stories and be able to feel comfortable in asking questions, but also provide answers for other youth. It speaks volumes about the safe space created at 1n10 that not only encourages the sharing of stories and points of view, but enables our youth to look to adults AND peers as mentors, and in turn contribute back to the community.