It is National Coming Out Day 2020 (11 October)
There is a bit of a myth that for LGBTQ+ people ‘coming out’ is a once and done thing! That when we have come out then everything is rainbows, glitter and sparkles. Yet we don’t come out once. We come out many hundreds, if not thousands of times throughout our lives.
The default in society is for people to assume you are heterosexual unless told otherwise. Often when I meet someone new and mention in passing my husband, I see that flicker or registration and know I have just come out again. For me, this is absolutely fine, I have never had an adverse response. For others it can be more problematic.
Coming out to your parents is often seen as the big one and for most it is certainly a momentous experience and key milestone. Yet the first time we come out is often to ourselves. That is often the hardest one. For some this happens early on in life, for other it is when they are much older. Admitting who you are is the first step in accepting who you are and hopefully celebrating who you are. It is no doubt easier now for younger people to realise, accept and celebrate being LGBTQ+, but the experience can be very different.
Mental Health and LGBTQ+
According to the Stonewall LGBT in Britain - Health survey in 2018 - half of LGBT people (52 per cent) said they’ve experienced depression in the last year. One in eight LGBT people aged 18-24 (13 per cent) said they’ve attempted to take their own life in the last year.
This is not doubt higher than ever in 2020. A study of LGBTQ people’s experience during the pandemic, by University College London (UCL) and Sussex University, found 69% of respondents suffered depressive symptoms. About 90% of those who had experienced homophobia or transphobia.
Going back through the years and it was more challenging. I grew up in the 80s, thinking that anyone who was gay would die of AIDS. Such youthful ignorance can be forgiven, yet to some extent that was the view of wider society. Much of the British press was out and out homophobic at the time and there was little open and positive representation of LGBTQ+ life. Thankfully I hit my teens in the 90s when things had moved on considerably. Looking back and coming to terms with your sexuality is difficult at any time, but a particularly brutal experience back then. Have we all processed what we went through? Have we dealt with the traumatic times we grew up LGBTQ+?
It is different for everyone and any sweeping statements about coming out does a disservice to the individual experience. For many it will have been a very positive experience. Yet for many others there would have been significant bumps along the road. It certainly does not surprise me that LGBTQ+ people are far more likely to suffer mental health problems than those who identify as heterosexual. This is no doubt in part due to higher levels of discrimination but also due to the traumatic experiences many of us have had growing up and coming out.
Hypnotherapy can help manage anxiety and distress and help process past experiences. To find out more about how I can help and hypnotherapy online. Get in touch for a confidential free consultation to find out more about hypnotherapy for anxiety and LGBTQ+ related issues.
Malcolm Struthers Hypnotherapy - Online and in-person in Dumfries & Galloway