I am very loud about coming out, especially in dangerous situations. The safety and well-being of my 2SLGBTQIA+ population is something I strive to advocate for on a daily basis. Being a safe space, offering welcoming arms, and even making sure someone has a meal is a way that I give back to my people. Now, I’m not going to place myself on a pedestal for being a normal person just looking out for other people who identify with the same community. I want to tell those who struggle with grasping someone else’s sexuality, for parents battling acceptance, for friends who are newly bullies. This is what coming out, forcing someone out, and even outing someone is like on their mental health. Take this from a first-hand experience.
The Two-Spirit (2S) identity is newly added to our community and is only bringing in the positivity that we had no idea was missing. With the inclusion of this newly stated identity, these identifying individuals can finally receive the recognition and belonging they deserve. Before I begin, I would like to thank our allies and resources for being our rocks in everything we are facing each day. We wouldn’t be here without you. And I would like to thank the people who were not so kind to others who were struggling with coming out. Those people have helped our 2SLGBTQIA+ bodies become stronger. I use the term ‘bodies’ because I would like to recognize those who are no longer with us, yet their imprint remains on the hearts of us all.
This community began its journey into the public eye in 1924 by a Chicago-man, Henry Gerber. He founded The Society for Human Rights. It was quickly followed in 1974 by an activist named Harry Hay. He then founded the lasting The Mattachine Society that is still remaining today. While there are plenty of ways to be involved, let’s get back to mental health.
Coming to terms with your sexuality, gender, identity, everything is a strenuous task that each person must endure. It’s a shot at figuring out who you are, but mostly how you would like to identify. There are numerous bills passing through the State Senates and House limiting someone from expressing their identity. The lack of recognition for those who are struggling is something that is giving off vibes of a shut-eye response.Efforts to keep it out of sight do not mean that it is out of mind. In 2013, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) had conducted a survey on acceptance after coming out, and 40% of participants experienced some form of disregard, turned head, or even violent response to their news. The results range from homelessness, substance abuse, attempted to successful suicides, and even the inadequate mental health care sought and rarely provided.
In modern psychological studies, mental health recognition begins at around 14 years of age. About 50% of teenagers experience some form of mental illness. It is also around the same milestone as attraction begins, right at the start of puberty. I know that we haven’t had the ‘puberty’ talk since high school sex-ed, but this is a very important point in an adolescent life because their brain and body start to keep score. What do I mean by that? I’m talking about trauma and how we start to form memories and coping mechanisms that weave their way into our daily habits and routines, we stop noticing we are applying them purposefully as we start to head into our non-conscious mindset. By that, as well, our ‘non-conscious mindset’ is where our actions that we don’t think about are stored. For example, how we itch our arm where the bug bite is, recognizing that we are thirsty and drinking water, or even breathing. While taking age, puberty, and sexuality hand-in-hand for each other, their presence in adolescent lives is crucial to note the effects of how we communicate with each other.
Even though we are in the third month of 2022, 50 million Americans have reported having a severe mental illness, and that is before the rest of the surveyed individuals resting on the other levels of this observation. Acknowledging the internal struggle each and every person endured from March 2020 until now is important in hearing each other out.
When someone is ready, they will come out on their own. Their body and mind understand and make a game plan of the positive and negative outcomes without even realizing it. It’s a vulnerable moment in someone’s life, and it is their story to tell. When that opportunity for them to share is quickly robbed, there is anger, disrespect, and hatred towards the other person. There are numerous reactions across the spectrum of humankind when someone feels threatened and resorts to anger, hurt, sadness, or even silence.
On December 11, 2017, I was outed to my mom by an ex-girlfriend. I was forced out of the closet when I wasn’t ready, and I wanted to be sure of my sexuality before I started telling the world. Especially when I considered the world to be my mom at the time. Granted, her reaction was to hug me and cry by my side, but I will never forget just how scared I felt. How betrayed I felt because of something she stole from me. A story she didn’t write, yet took credit for.
I was 16 years old, scared, and felt like I was on top of the world an hour before. I was finally understanding a tough algebra concept, and my life changed forever. It flashed before my eyes, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much growth, learning, and self-discovery I had endured just to be here today. I am 21 and a scholar, apartment owner, and full-time employee. I have plenty of support from family and friends that I was once fearing would disappear. I do struggle with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. Yet, I am stronger each and every day since coming out. I was outed, and I will never have that opportunity to share with my mom the way that I initially wanted to, but I can share my story to anyone who wants to listen, using the language and filters that I want to.