We at Youth Together know that coming out is a lifelong process that is personal and profound. We want to acknowledge all of the folks out there, out or not, who are living their lives and taking care of their families.
Especially in these trying times, when the rights of Queer and Trans individuals are up for debate in the highest court in the land, we know how important it is to affirm our collective worth.
In celebration of the coming out process, Youth Together will be working to share stories from students, parents, and staff that documents their journey, and affirms their experiences into November, culminating in the Trans Day of Remembrance on November 20th, 2019.
For anyone who is interested in submitting their story, or want more information, please reach out to Eric Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org
Forced Out: Coming IN to Myself in College
I didn’t come out on my own.
When I was in college, I was outed. I was not given the opportunity to come to terms with myself on my own time, and because of it, I struggled to come to a place where I was comfortable with my Queerness and my Blackness.
And then, I found my tribe. Or, I should say, my tribe recognized and surrounded ME.
Men from a group called BlaQue, a space for Queer Black folks at UCLA, had heard about me being outed, and approached me about coming to their group. At first, I was disinterested; I didn’t think that I needed to be in this group, because I didn’t want people knowing about me as a Queer person, and I was afraid that being a part of it would brand me for the rest of my time in college. However, a mentor from the Afrikan Student Union was paired with me through the Academic Supports Program, who was also a part of BlaQue, and brought me to an impromptu meeting. Although I clashed hard with the other two men that I met in the group, they would eventually come to be the older brothers that I had never known that I needed. They helped me come to terms with myself, and taught me about the community at large. They counseled me on how best to navigate dating, and employment; they helped me understand how to deal with being out, or what being out meant; they encouraged me to be myself, and to figure out what that is, but they also always stressed safety.
The most important thing that I learned from them is about safety. They taught me that, unfortunately in this world, it isn’t always safe for us to be out because there are people who believe that it’s okay to perpetuate violence against us. There are people who believe that my employment should be terminated because of my sexuality. There are people that believe that I should lose my housing because of my sexuality. And in a lot of places in the US, I CAN lose my employment and my housing because of my sexuality. While the laws may not protect us, I learned from my mentors in BlaQue that it is our duty to protect each other. It is our duty to live our lives safely, so that we can support and teach the next generation. But most importantly, it is our duty to fight for our freedom, because, as Audre Lorde said, our silence will not save us.
If anyone learns anything from me being out, I hope it’s that people don’t have to be out to be proud, and that whether or not someone is out to you, doesn’t mean that it’s safe enough for them to be out to others. It is everyone’s personal choice on when, how, and where to come out, and as community members, we need to protect each others’ right to be out on our own terms. (E.A.)