It’s Time to getREAL About Coming Out

Today, getREAL observes and celebrates National Coming Out Day, an annual observance which celebrates LGBTQ+ individuals ‘coming out’ about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The date aligns with the historic Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987, where visibility obtained through coming out was considered one of the most effective methods LGBTQ+ individuals leveraged to advocate for civil rights. On this the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, coming out continues to hold significant personal, social, and political power. Today is a celebration of the strength and courage it takes to publicly come out in the face of a world that continues to stigmatize, criminalize, and perpetuate violence on LGBTQ+ people.

Coming out is a unique experience for every individual, and an experience that is all too often a negative one for many LGBTQ+ youth nationwide. According to a recent study from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than other youth, a phenomenon which research from the True Colors Fund says is most commonly the result of family conflict. Half of all teens report that their parents had a negative reaction when they came out to them and more than 1 in 4 are kicked out of their homes. Additional reasons for LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness include aging out of the foster care system, and poverty. For many closeted LGBTQ+ youth, National Coming Out Day is not only a celebration, but an opportunity. While there is no data to tell us approximately how many LGBTQ+ people use this day to come out to friends and family, we know from social media and from personal stories that many do.

For too many LGBTQ+ youth, coming out is a negative experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s getREAL about coming out and Recognize, Engage, Affirm and Love the LGBTQ+ youth who do it. This National Coming Out Day, CSSP supports and affirms all LGBTQ+ youth, especially LGBTQ+ facing the greatest struggles, and we hope that you do too. GetREAL works to build a safe environment for all children – one which promotes the healthy development of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression – because we know that when given the support they need, children are able to thrive.

Resources for LGBTQ+ youth who are coming out can be found here:

Resources for parents, foster parents, child welfare workers, or those who work or interact with youth can be found here:

E Feinman is a program and research assistant at CSSP.