Sexuality is a hard subject for some to talk about. The norm our society has laid down is to be straight (heterosexual), so when people aren’t, it’s hard for others to accept.
The LGBTQ+ community is full of coming out stories of which some are good, but others are heartbreaking. The heartbreak comes when an LGBTQ+ person gets enough courage to share their true self with loved ones and they are met with the reaction of confusion or rejection.
Coming out isn't always easy as it isn’t always so straightforward as most may think, and what comes next can sometimes be just as hard.
A junior at Sacramento State University, whose name is withheld for privacy reasons, was asked what her biggest fear was when coming out to her parents.
“I was afraid they wouldn’t take me seriously," she said. "[I thought] that because they wouldn't understand, they wouldn't think that I [understood] either, resulting in them brushing me off like it didn’t matter."
Sadly, her fear came true. Although her parents “accepted it,” when the topic was brought up they showed they didn't take her seriously. They would say things like “Only time will tell” and “Well, we don’t know for sure yet.”
These small comments may not seem all that bad, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt. For most it takes a lot of courage to come out, and to be treated like you don’t know what you are talking about can be truly heartbreaking.
Every case is unique, though. John, a freshman at Sacramento State, shared how his parents reacted when he came out.
“My parents didn’t react as I thought they would. They didn’t really know what it meant… They asked a lot of questions and accepted what I had to say,” he explained.
John also found it surprising when his parents began researching different facts about the LGBTQ+ community and learning the history around the community. His parents were willing to admit they didn’t know what his “coming out” meant, but they were willing to learn what this meant for him and them.
Many parents also become worried about how their child will be treated after coming out. The Sacramento State junior explained that this was one of her mother's biggest obstacles. Her mom told her how she didn’t want to tell her grandparents because she was worried about how they would treat her based on their deep roots in their religious community. It wasn’t that her mom was ashamed, she just knew it would be hard for her grandparents to accept her.
While many parents naturally worry about their children when they go out into the world, some also have to deal with the worry of their child being discriminated against for something they can't change. No matter what people have to say, sexuality isn’t a choice and it isn’t a phase that people just “get over.” When someone comes out to you on their own accord, it’s because they accept themselves fully, and want you to know who they are. A lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community are proud of who they are no matter what reactions they get and they know that they have a community who will be there for them and be their support network if they need it.
LGBTQ+ community support can be found all across the California State University system, including Stanislaus State.
The mentorship program, run by Stan State professors, is available for students to have someone they can talk to about issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community. The mentorship program also hosts events like weekly coffee time, holiday parties and game nights.