“Coming out” is the process of revealing oneself as LGBT. It comes from the metaphor of ‘coming out of the closet’. Coming out can be an ongoing process that persists throughout one’s life. A youth might come out to her parents, but still be in the closet with friends, relatives and/or teachers.
Not everyone is able to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity until they are willing to come out. For instance, people often make assumptions about an ‘effeminate’ male or a ‘butch’ woman. These assumptions will not always be correct because the way a person looks is not a definitive guide to sexual orientation. An effeminate male or a butch woman can be heterosexual. However those people who fit the stereotype and are lesbian, gay or bisexual, may be ‘outed’ simply by their appearance and peoples’ assumptions.
Coming out as a transgender male or female may take a different path than coming out as LGB. Some transgender people feel that once they have transitioned into the gender they identify with, they no longer want, or feel the need to ‘come out’ to new people in their lives. The feeling of finally looking in the mirror and seeing the gender that they expect, is so freeing that they want to put the past behind them. On the other hand, some transgender people have said that they feel the need to be out so that they can be active in the community or assist other men and women who need support.
The effect of being closeted takes a toll on LGBT youth, both mentally and spiritually. LGBT youth will benefit from support to create a safe space for them to come to terms with their sexual orientation and gender identity. A lack of safe spaces does not prevent people from being LGBT. Instead it increases the possibility of youth being exposed to bullying and violence, and thereby being forced into harmful situations.
LGBT people are not typical, but“joyous, mundane, tragic and everything in between.” They have lives and communities, births, deaths, graduations, jobs, good days, bad days and celebrations just like everyone else.