Why 'coming out' can take a lifetime
Prejudice, discrimination and ignorance cause measurable harm to LGBT+ people's health and wellbeing, but family support can make a big difference.
Attitudes in many societies may be changing, but plenty of prejudice against the LGBT+ community still abounds across the world. In the US, LGBT+ people are nine times more likely than non-LGBT+ people to be victims of violent hate crimes...Families cannot protect their LGBT+ relatives from all the challenges they will face – but the quality of support from our relatives can make a big difference. In fact, family support is a serious predictor of the wellbeing of LGBT+ people across the lifespan. However, declaring tolerance, and providing meaningful support, can be two very different things. Read this incredibly in-depth article here.
I have my own recollections of this in my life. I was 8 years old when I finally understood I was different from most people I knew. My father constantly disparaged my uncle for "acting gay” when, in reality, I believe he was simply what would be considered more “effeminate” in nature. These complaints from my father hurt me personally because my uncle Vince was the only person in my family who truly mentored me.
I often cry when reading articles about queerness, whether they are supportive or unsupportive stories. Even the good ones make me sad because I wish I had had something besides threats of military school from my dad whenever I showed signs of not being a mini-me for him and his hunting buddies.
Reading this article has helped me put things in perspective just a little bit more. I wanted to share this with the PACG community because LGBTQ+ allies need to understand. Why? Because even people that think they're kind can unintentionally hurt the queer people they love. And the prolific hate in America today is debilitating for the queer community. And, likely, for you as well.
This comprehensive article has certainly tracked with my experience as a young queer person growing up in the 60s. The hate has always been here but I'm a lot more afraid of where society is headed now than I ever have been before. Articles like this can help. They won't stop the queer haters, but might open the eyes of people who think they care but aren't exactly showing support in careful, meaningful ways. We can all be more mindful.