Every year on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day is celebrated by the LGBTQ+ community and allies alike. This day is in celebration and recognition of LGBTQ+ folks who have opened doors to embrace their true identities, as well as a day to support people who may be keeping their identity private, or even secret. Coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community can be a life-altering moment for many: Some may feel ready to let the world know who they are and who they choose to love, while others may feel horrified or intimidated to come out due to societal judgment and other additional factors. Regardless, no one should ever feel alone when it comes to their coming out journey, and there are resources available if you are, or are thinking about, coming out.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, I’ve listed five resources that LGBTQ+ youth should look into when it comes to coming out. These resources provide support to LGBTQ+ people during the many stages of coming out — including when one is comfortable enough to take the first step, as well as how to respond to their new reality as an out-and-proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.
- The Trevor project
The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that is heavily focused on reducing suicide among those who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The organization offers confidential assistance by a trained counselor, as well as other crisis services for those who are experiencing mental health issues. The Trevor Project also has a section of coming out guides on its website, as well as a “public education” section that helps further the communication among LGBTQ+ youth.
- The Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is an LGBTQ advocacy group that is committed to LGBTQ+ equality. HRC does an excellent job of making LGBTQ+ voices heard through multiple platforms, along with successful supporters who are strong allies for the LGBTQ+ community. The campaign acknowledges the many issues that surround the LGBTQ+ community, such as healthcare and discrimination. It also embraces the equality between the LGBTQ+ community and allies.
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is an organization that seeks to end harassment and bullying based on one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Its target audience is K-12 students, as its mission is to provide a more inclusive and safe environment for LGBTQ+ youth.
- Matthew Shepard Foundation
The Matthew Shepard Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in 1998. The foundation is dedicated in memory of their son Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime. Its mission, “Erase Hate,” is to inspire those to raise awareness within the LGBTQ+ community and to embrace one’s dignity. The foundation has seen success over the past two decades, and it even managed to get a hate crime prevention act signed into law by former President Barack Obama in October 2009.
- It Gets Better Project
The “It Gets Better” Project is an Internet-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to uplift those are of LGBTQ+ youth. The organization is among one of the most prevalent within the LGBTQ+ community, since many celebrities have shown their support and endorsed the organization. For those who are seeking to come out, this organization not only provides support, but hope as well.
Coming out can be a hard thing for those who are doubtful about living their true selves. But, it shouldn’t have to be an unsuccessful experience. Just remember that if you or someone you know is currently in the closet or questioning their sexuality, don’t force them out. Time and communication is key, but reaching out for help is one of the ultimate things that you can do for yourself.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for LGBTQ+ mental health or safety concerns, call The Trevor Project‘s 24/7 Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386). You can also reach out for instant message or text message support via TrevorChat and TrevorText, respectively. For additional resources for trans people, call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860. In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911.