Day honours ‘coming out’
For immediate release
Day honours ‘coming out’
October 7, 2019 (Niagara) – National Coming Out Day is Oct. 11, and the process of revealing sexual or gender identity can be as nerve-racking, and affirming, as it ever was.
Brian Scriver, chair of OUTniagara, a network unifying the diverse 2SLGBTQ community, said that in an ideal world it would be unnecessary to come out at all. But society still defaults to the assumption that people are straight and cisgender, with no room for any shades of purple bookended by conventional pink and blue.
“Coming out is an intensely personal and ongoing process,” says Scriver, a gay man who came out in high school. “It can be fraught with anxiety and a risk of physical or emotional harm, especially for those who belong to more than one marginalized community. It takes an enormous amount of courage to come out to oneself, family, friends, co-workers or anyone else who is important in your life.”
Coming Out Day was created in 1988 in the United States. The theory is that people are more likely to support equity policies if they know someone who is a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and that they will become vocal allies in the process.
Jennifer Lynn Munday says that she heard “horror stories” of coming out from others, but her experience was positive when she disclosed she is a trans woman to the world on Feb. 17, 2018 (her birthday, or as she calls it, her re-birthday).
Munday decided to come out after recovering from a life-threatening illness. She informed co-workers that after her birthday, she would no longer present as male.
Her co-workers, along with family and friends, “were incredibly supportive. My family took me out to celebrate and my boss sent me flowers on my first day at work as Jennifer.
“For the first time in my life I finally feel alive,” says Jennifer. I have met so many incredible people and made wonderful friends and have even found love. Life has been so wonderful since deciding to allow Jennifer to start walking in the light.”
Sarah Burtch-Walsh says that identifying as bisexual means her authenticity is always in question.
“As a result, the process of coming out is ongoing. If my partner is a woman I am presumed to be a lesbian, and if my partner is a man I am presumed to be straight,” she says. “I make the choice to come out over and over in the hopes that other bisexuals will have the confidence to be their authentic selves.”
Kate Alexander was 32 and in a heterosexual marriage with two very young children when she came out as lesbian, stepping out of the normative box that society had taught her to inhabit.
“Coming out was the scariest, saddest, and most liberating experience,” she says.
“Scary because I didn’t know what the future held for me, how my friends and family would take it, how the breakdown of the marriage would affect my children, and how to live my authentic self as a lesbian.
“Sad because I was leaving an entire life behind. The person I had worked so hard to become was being left behind, I was breaking up a relationship with my husband and best friend, and I watched my children’s hearts break.
“Liberating because I could be myself, let go of the weight and constant policing of my thoughts and feelings.”
Living an authentic life helped to lift the depression that Alexander had experienced since her early teenage years, and made her a healthier mother. Her children learned the importance of being true to themselves. Her friends and family, who Alexander says were amazingly supportive, also came out by having to reflect on their own attitudes to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
“In the end, this has opened everyone’s hearts and minds, and has created some fierce allies,” she says. “With a special shout-out to my mom.”
For additional information, please contact the following persons:
Jennifer Lynn Munday, 905-341-0795, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Burtch-Walsh, email@example.com
Kate Alexander, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about OUTniagara send an email to email@example.com