Coming Out.

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Not exactly health related but important to discuss equality. Excuse me for this post as it’s something I’m passionate about.  I’ll repeat my statement from my first post that this is my personal opinion.

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day. There seems to be a day for everything for something these days but yesterday was a wonderful way of sharing different experiences and story telling.

I also had a session today delivered by Tara Hewitt, Equality and diversity lead for South Manchester. Bit of a coincidence this happened within 24 hours. Tara’s lecture was wonderful. I was so glad there was a whole session dedicated to it. She was engaging but also educational.

 

My coming out story is pretty dull to be honest so I won’t bore you with sharing it. But you find yourself continuously coming out to people. You get questions about your story of how you came out. “Were your mum and dad ok with it?” “What happened?” I’m happy to tell them if they ask nicely but it happens every time you meet new people and form relationships.

A local radio station had one of it’s producers talking about his coming out story. It was built up along the lines of LGBT people face hardship and persecution throughout the world and this person wanted to share that he had been through this. Then the producer told his story where his mother was very accepting and it was all lovely. I’m sure there were tears. I know this lad personally and he’s lovely. I like him a lot. His family are supportive and have had their own issues surrounding associative discrimination of him being gay. (You can tell where I’m going with this as I’m building up nice things about him) We don’t need to hear his story. Well… we do but it need accompanying with something with a bit more meat on the bones. A bit more shocking.

A cursory search of the internet found this quote:

“When I came out my parents made me go talk to their church bishop. I was told I’m broken, that they were taking me to counseling to help fix me, and that if things got worse they would have to take more drastic actions. They told me it’s just a phase and that I could be “fixed.” They also forbid me from telling anyone. To this day they cannot accept that I’m gay. When I told my friends, everything seemed fine and dandy at first, then I found out a bunch of them were talking about me behind my back and they asked me to keep my sexuality to myself because it would be easier for them. It was horrible.”

This shows a bit more of a dirty reality. It’s not something people feel comfortable or makes good radio. But it’s what people need to hear not necessarily what they want to. If you’re going to do a feature on coming out it doesn’t need to be so 2 dimensional. A quick context statistic and back up of my point: The Trevor Project provides statistics LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

A friend of mine posted this on the subject of coming out:

I don’t really have a story for to be honest. Which is exactly how it should be, when you think about it.

That’s what we strive for. The non assumption of heterosexuality. Just a discussion. No fear of reprisal. Or being disowned. Every gay or bi man and woman, every trans* person can just calmly say what they are and it not to be a monumental thing.

I do worry that the more people hear about “normal” stories the more everyone is going to shrug off that everything is fine for LGBT+ people now. Everything is not fine now. It’s better than it was. Being LGBT+ is no longer illegal. You are free to be who you are (generally). We have so called “gay” marriage.  There are openly LGBT politicians. Locally we have Manchester’s first ever gay Lord Mayor. There are LGBT actors on TV. The rainbow flag flies above council buildings at different times of the year.

We should be very happy with our lot right? We’ve got equality now. Fantastic. Now….I’m going to shout this next bit in order to get it across to some people:  JUST BECAUSE WE HAVE SOME THINGS DOESN’T MEAN THE FIGHT IS OVER! 

I could go into endless details as to why we’re still not equal but that would go on forever. A quick health perspective. LGBT+ people are more at risk of mental health issues. The rate of suicide attempts is 4 times greater for LGB youth and 2 times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth. LGB people are two to three times more likely than heterosexual people to suffer from depression and a third of GB men who have accessed healthcare services in the last year have had a negative experience related to their sexual orientation. (LGBT Foundation).

 

Equality has not yet happened yet. Don’t kid yourself that it has. I hope it does. It’s going to take time. It’s going to work. I’ll continue fighting for it. I hope everyone else does too and doesn’t let complacency set in.

 

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