There is a new project that the New York Times initiated simply called “Coming Out.” It gathered the coming out stories of LGBT teens from across the United States posted them on their website. This is the latest positive move towards giving teenagers a resource to not feel so alone in their struggles.
In a recent New York Times article
Sarah Kramer explained the purpose of the project: “The New York Times embarked on the project “Coming Out” as an effort to better understand this generation’s realities and expectations, and to give teenagers their own voice in the conversation.
The Times spoke with or e-mailed nearly 100 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender teenagers from all of parts of the country — from rural areas to urban centers, from supportive environments to hostile ones. The newspaper contacted them through various advocacy groups, as well as through social networking sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.”
As I listened to and read the stories, I was deeply moved by the honesty and strength of these teenagers. Coming out is a struggle, it always has been. I remember one of the first things I learned during my coming out process was that you don’t just “come out” once. It’s an ongoing life long process. Every time you meet a new person, start a new job, move to a new place and in every single life transition there will be a person or groups of people to come out to.
Sometimes coming out to someone doesn’t involve words. For instance, when my partner and I bought a house, we didn’t have to tell our neighbors as it was pretty obvious. Facing that ongoing coming out process is a pretty heavy load to bear. You can feel that heaviness in the teen’s stories and how they manage those feelings will so much grace.
At the same time they bring so much hope to those reading their stories especially those who are also struggling with coming out. Most importantly, they show the universality of coming out. The fear, the losses, the burden and ultimately connecting to a new community and self-acceptance are all common threads that interweave the coming out process. I have no doubt this project will have a profound affect on those who read it and in some cases it will save lives.
- Julie Cohen