Op-ed: ‘Coming out’ is not best choice for everyone

Maeve Taylor
Contributing Writer

J.R. Benmuvhar hosts a game of “Gay-pardy” during a National Coming Out Day event at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on October 11, 2004. Photo by David Pullman/Kansas City Star/TNS

Around 2.5 percent the adult population in America identifies within the  LGBT spectrum, according to the National Health Interview Survey, even more among the population of 18-24 year olds, at around 7 percent. Most people would call themselves accepting of LGBT people.

Coming Out day is Oct. 11, created in 1988, a day where people can celebrate themselves as who they are for the first time or the second or the umpteenth. During all this celebration, though, there will be people who are unable to partake.  

It seems that many do not understand this phenomenon, using phrases such as “get out of the closet,” and citing the negative affects that not coming out can have on someone and these are not unfounded.  Studies done at Louis H. Lafontaine Hospital in Montreal and by Andrew Sullivan and Ralph Roughton have shown that the effects of stress from this can cause depression and those who conceal their sexual identities might have ideas that it is immoral or wrong can contribute to self hatred, sometimes labeled “internalized homophobia.”

However, in certain situations, coming out could be worse than staying in.

For example: some people have parents who believe being attracted to the same gender is wrong and those who are attracted to the same gender need therapy or rehabilitation, so those parents send them to a “gay conversion camp,” where there have been many citations of abuse, like those of Lucas Greenfield at a camp known as Restoration Youth Academy in Alabama.  

Some people are even disowned, and sent them out into the streets, which is still a thing that happens, as shown in the 20 to 40 percent of the youth homeless population identifying within the LGBT spectrum, according to a statistic by the True Colors Fund.

Clearly, for many people, it is hardly an option to come out if it means ostracism or being put in a physically dangerous situation, even if their family may be unknowingly hurting them with some of the things they decide to share. Even though there are many joys to coming out, and one may think that staying in the closet is more harmful than helpful, maybe think of the situations that other people are in.

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