Empty Closets: West Valley Shares Coming Out StoriesBy Avi Vieira Glendale
As we hear of LGBTQ youth coming out at younger and younger ages, many tend to overlook the individual stories of coming out of the closet. West Valley one•n•ten spent an evening discussing coming out to others not only as LGB, but some as emerging transgender individuals, others who admitted whether they identify in the LGBTQ spectrum, and others who never shared secret interests, hobbies, and identities with others.
The group began with a question of what coming out means to the youth. After a brief discussion, the group defined coming out as accepting of who one is to be able to tell someone else. Eventually the discussion turned to coming out on things other than one’s sexual identity. Transgender youth identified the process of “coming out all over again” when they identified as Trans* after having come out as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual to parents, friends, and other important people in their lives. Others shared stories of coming out as a “nerd,” “emo,” “jock,” or other social identity or interest that they have kept secret from others.
Youth, staff, and volunteers then shared stories of their personal coming out experiences – some that were done on their own terms, and others where they were outed by somebody else. A brief question of who folks aren’t yet out to was posed to the group, with almost everyone identifying at least one person they have not come out to in their life. The evening closed with a reflection of how important the coming out process is, but also a reminder that one should do it on their own terms and base it on their own comfort level. The youth were reminded that however they identify on the LGBTQ spectrum or on the social spectrum they always have caring and supportive peers and adults at one•n•ten.