Coming Out Day – tips and suggestions

Today is otherwise known as US National Coming out day but as per usual when they sneeze we catch a cold and so follow the lead as the template is set, it may be difficult to come out fully in Jamaica especially those on the lower socio economic strata who are far more exposed to the earthy homo-negative responses as the national psyche still has not fully come accustomed the ever expanding sexuality spectrum. The University of Illinois provided this wonderful list of how to come out which I found most applicable to our local scenario.

Also see our diva Diana King’s coming out story on sister blog GLBTQJA: HERE

Coming out Transgender: HERE

and Making a Coming Out Plan: HERE

Coming Out

For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people, coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing one’s sexual orientation/identity. Coming out includes both exploring one’s identity and sharing that identity with others. It also involves coping with societal responses and attitudes toward LGBT people. LGBT individuals are forced to come to terms with what it means to be different in a society that tends to assume everyone to be heterosexual and that tends to judge differences from the norm in negative ways. The coming out process is very personal. This process happens in different ways and occurs at different ages for different people. Some people are aware of their sexual identity at an early age; others arrive at this awareness only after many years. Coming out is a continuing, sometimes lifelong, process.While some anxiety related to sexuality is common among college students, the problems facing LGBT people are often more difficult than those facing others. Because positive role models are often difficult to identify, LGBT people may feel alone and unsure of their own sexual identities. Fear of rejection is greater among LGBT people due to the prejudices in society against them.

Coming Out to Oneself

Recognizing your own sexual identity and working toward self-acceptance are the first steps in coming out. First, concerning sexual identity, it helps to think of a sexual orientation continuum that ranges from exclusive same sex attraction to exclusive opposite sex attraction. Exploring your sexual identity may include determining where you presently fit along that continuum.

Concerning self-acceptance, it can be very helpful to focus on the positive aspects of LGBT culture, for example, its music, art, theater, books, events, and groups. It is also very helpful to seek out positive, well adjusted and comfortable role models among LGBT people. Building on the positive does not mean that you pretend that our society is past its discrimination, fears, and negative myths concerning LGBT people, or that these things do not have any effects on LGBT people. However, these negative things are better understood as externally based rather than inherent to your identity or your orientation. Part of developing a positive sense of self is understanding that your own homophobia is also externally based, the product of societal prejudices and anti-LGBT biases that have impinged upon you for much of your life.

There are many things to think about when considering coming out. Some of the positive outcomes may be increased self-esteem, greater honesty in one’s life, and a sense of greater personal integrity. In addition, there is often a sense of relief and a reduction of tension when one stops trying to deny or hide such an important part of his/her life. Coming out can lead to greater freedom of self-expression, positive sense of self and more healthy and honest relationships.

One safe means of beginning to come out to yourself is through reading about how others have dealt with similar issues. There are many books and periodicals available on all facets of LGBT life, from clinical studies on LGBT people to collections of A coming out stories.

Coming Out to Other Lesbians and Gay Men

Often, after spending some time getting in touch with one’s own feelings, the next step is to come out to others. It is usually advisable to come out first to those who are most likely to be supportive. LGBT people are a potential natural support system because they have all experienced at least some of the steps in the process of coming out. Sharing experiences about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can help you decrease feelings of isolation and shame. Furthermore, coming out to other LGBT people can help you build a community of people who can then support and assist you in coming out to others in your life. Many LGBT communities offer a number of helpful resources, including local coming out groups, switchboards, social outlets, and political and cultural activities and organizations.

Coming out to other LGBT people does not need to happen quickly. Also, choosing to do so does not mean that you must conform to real or presumed expectations of the LGBT community. What is most important is that you seek your own path through the comingout process and that you attend to your unique, personal timetable. You should not allow yourself to be pressured into anything you are not ready for or don’t want to do. It is important to proceed at your own pace, being honest with yourself and taking time to discover who you really are.

Coming Out to Heterosexuals

Perhaps your most difficult step in coming out will be to reveal yourself to heterosexuals. It is at this step that you may feel most likely to encounter negative consequences. Thus it is particularly important to go into this part of the coming out process with open eyes. For example, it will help to understand that some heterosexuals will be shocked or confused initially, and that they may need some time to get used to the idea that you are LGBT. Also, it is possible that some heterosexual family members or friends may reject you initially. However, do not consider them as hopeless; many people come around in their own time.

Loss of employment or housing are also possibilities that some LGBT people face. In some places it is still legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals for housing, employment and other issues. You should take this into consideration when deciding to whom and where you “come out” .

Coming out to others is likely to be a more positive experience when you are more secure with your sexuality and less reliant on others for your positive self-concept. The necessary clarification of feelings is a process that usually takes place over time. It may be a good idea to work through that process before you take the actual steps. Usually it is not a good idea to come out on the spur of the moment. Make coming out an action, not a reaction.

In coming out to others, consider the following:

  • Think about what you want to say and choose the time and place carefully.
  • Be aware of what the other person is going through. The best time for you might not be the best time for someone else.
  • Present yourself honestly and remind the other person that you are the same individual you were yesterday.
  • Be prepared for an initially negative reaction from some people. Do not forget that it took time for you to come to terms with your sexuality, and that it is important to give others the time they need.
  • Have friends lined up to talk with you later about what happened.
  • Don’t give up hope if you don’t initially get the reaction you wanted. Due to inculcated societal prejudices mentioned earlier, some people need more time than others to come to terms with what they have heard.

Above all, be careful no to let your self-esteem depend entirely on the approval of others. If a person rejects you and refuses to try to work on acceptance, that’s not your fault. Keep in mind that this initial refusal may get reversed once the individual gets used to the idea that you are LGBT. If time does not seem to change the individual’s attitude toward you, then you may want to re-evaluate your relationship and its importance to you. Remember that you have the right to be who you are, you have the right to be out and open about all important aspects of your identity including your sexual orientation, and in no case is another person’s rejection evidence of your lack of worth or value.

Summary

The decision to come out is always personal. Whether to come out and, if so, when, where, how, and to whom are all questions you must answer for yourself. Taking control of this process includes being aware in advance of potential ramifications so that you can act positively rather than defensively. Coming out may be one of the most difficult tasks you confront in your life, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. Coming out is one way of affirming your dignity and the dignity of other LGBT people. Remember that you are not alone; there is a viable LGBT community waiting to be explored, and more heterosexual “allies” are willing to offer their support than you might have first imagined.

Need Additional Help?

Some suggested readings to help you throughout this process are:

  1. Now That You Know. Betty Fairchild & Robert Leighton. New York, NY. Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich, 1989.
  2. Beyond Acceptance. Carolyn Welch Griffin, Marina J. Wirth & Arthur G. Wirth. New York, NY. St. Martin’s Press, 1997.
  3. Straight Parents/Gay Children. Robert A. Bernstein. New York, NY. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1995.

Thoughts on “coming out” as Transgender to family

As coming out day approaches on October 11th here are some suggestions for coming out specifically for transgender issues, these are NOT hard and fast rules but just some tips, the FINAL decision is left up to the individual

Here is a leading transgender expert who shared this is me some time ago and was posted on sister blog GLBTQJA on blogger some time ago.

A. B. Kaplan (Transgender Health)

Before you come out:I think it’s important to start with thinking about the purpose of your communication, and that is just to come out to them, to come out of hiding and let them know who you are and what you’ve been struggling with. I’m making the assumption that you also wish to remain as close as possible to your family, and be accepted and hopefully supported by them in the future.

There’s also the question of if you should come out at all. If you are dependent on your parents/family (under 18, or if they are paying for college, etc…) then you need to think of the very real possibility of their cutting you out or off. The last thing you want to be is a homeless transgendered youth. If this is the case, then it may be wiser to spend some time finding and getting support before proceeding.

If you decide that the time is right and it’s safe to come out to them then…

The Vehicle:

My experience has been with Transgendered clients, that a letter works best. The letter has several advantages over face to face communications.

You get to take your time and think about what to say and word it perfectly.

You can have a friend, therapist or supportive person read it over first and give you feedback.

You can’t be interrupted.

The recipient can go back and read it again and take their time with it.

Why a letter and not an email? Well, it’s more personal, email can be a little cold.

What to say:

I’m of the school of thought that you should just say it in your own words as clearly and plainly as possible. I think it can be good to also include the following:

Reassurance that you love them and want to remain connected and hope that they will be supportive.

Reassurance that this is not their “fault”.

A little bit about your struggle with gender over the years, your experience, coping, isolation, etc… (be specific! It will help them empathize with you)

A few recommendations of books, articles or support groups in their area

and I recommend to ask them specifically not to respond right away, but to take some time (a week) before they respond. Let them sit with it. This will weed out any immediate bad response and let them cool down.

Just as you would tailor a cover letter for a job you may need to tailor your coming out letter for different family members. Your parents are two (or maybe more than two) separate people, invite them to respond individually.

What not to say:

No need to talk about specific long term plans/timetables or surgeries in your coming-out letter. Remember, the purpose of the letter is to let your family know that you are transgendered. Period. Future plans are better left for future communications. Why? Because just digesting the fact that one has a trans son/daughter/brother/sister is enough to begin with. Remember, you’ve had a lot of time to think about this and are ready to move ahead. They are just learning of this for the first time and need to absorb it. I think its ok to gently allude to the fact that changes might be coming in the future, but I wouldn’t go father than that in your first communication on this topic.

There is no need to go into the etiology of transsexualism here. There are too many conflicting theories biological and otherwise, and even if you knew the origin of your being transgendered, it wouldn’t change it.

Afterwards:

If you get a positive response that’s great! Otherwise stay calm, even if you get a negative first response. Give them time.

Don’t be reactive to a negative response. Be the adult (or if you don’t feel it, just pretend). Remember the long term goal is to have them be connected to you and supportive. Keep the long term goal in mind in all your communications with them.

It does happen sometimes that parents have a very negative response and even reject you outright. This can be very hurtful and disappointing. When this happens, again, don’t be reactive no matter how you feel. Keep the long term goal in mind. It’s easy to “write them off”, but ultimately unsatisfying if you want to have your family.

A few things to do with a negative reaction:

Communicate that you are open and ready to talk when they are,

Be empathic with their difficulty in accepting/understanding/assimilating this information. Understand that they need time and may have a religious/cultural basis of understanding that can’t be overcome quickly.

Express your wish and hope that it will change over time.

Ask what you can do to help them accept this?

Other Approaches:

You know your family best, so keep that in mind when crafting your coming out communication.

Here are some other perspectives on how to come out to your family:

coming out, hormone, surgery, and other letters

http://www.videojug.com/interview/how-to-come-out-to-your-family-and-friends-as-transgender video ‘How To Come Out To Your Family And Friends As Transgender’

http://www.hrc.org/issues/3455.htm

Article ‘Coming Out to Family as Transgender’ from The Human Rights Campaign

http://www.tsroadmap.com/family/index.html

Transsexual Road Map – Family issues

 

19 yo gets tense reprieve …………………

A nineteen year old gay male who for some time has been expressing concerns about his security of a shelter over his head has been given a temporary reprieve of sorts with his mother insisting he can remain at the family home whilst counselling interventions take place but his father who resides elsewhere after a breakup angrily is against it in the strongest opposition, the story has been developing from as early as March of this year but with the young man pursuing courses preparing himself for pre-university studies he feels derailed by the issues that were presenting themselves. A similar near displacement story was carried on sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch some years ago but was resolved with counseling suggested by the mother as well of another young male who was also traumatized as his parents were going through a bitter divorce. The family who were of the Seventh Day Adventist faith also had to grapple with the religious trappings that came with denomination and his father strongly opposing his continued stay in the home, first counsellors from the church were suggested and used but left the young man at the time further confused as the reparative therapy route was continuously suggested and attempted to change him from his “evil ways” the matter was resolved via counselling from a non denominational and non religious affiliated counsellor who painstakingly encouraged dialogue between all parties involved as the divorce issues were prominent in that case helped to reach an amicable settlement at the time.

Cases such as these hardly make the news for another side to the issues of homophobia and displacement or possible disruptions but are usually solved via some private interventions afforded by the families involved or simply self financed alternatives by the would be victims themselves in the middle soci economic classes who can afford such buffers or simply relocating to a friend’s or going independent. The particular problem for this nineteen year old commenced when an incoming phone call which was answered by his mother on his own cellular instrument was suspected by her, the male voice on the other end insisted on speaking to him and when she queried what were the pressing reasons the caller rebuffed her in the strongest of terms, unbeknownst to the 19 year old she monitored his movements and calls ever since and arrived at a conclusion that this relationship was more than a passing friendship, the young man said he often saw her observing him occasionally when he was on his phone or on his laptop around the house so much so he started to restirct his usage of the devices in her presence and only in his bedroom, she however related the matter to his father as he still has an active role in the home that of financial support, the young man’s younger sister resides with the father both cross visit with the parents alternately. The issue simmered until an argument during one of the cross visits led to the pronouncements by his father that he wanted no battyman around him or his sibbling and he went further to suggest that he may have had AIDS in one heated exchange. The relationship between father and son based on the exchange we had on the issue were already strained prior to this as his father was not pleased supposedly due to his son’s academic failures in terms of not successfully achieving the expected passes before departing high school and with this unceremonious outing by his mother in the initial stages has added more heat to the mix. Some time before also the break down of the mother father relationship was a factor leading to the tense atmosphere between the two. Another argument followed during the independence period and as he prepares to enter a new institution coming September. This led him to reach out to persons he felt he could trust and my contact with him.

The young man’s mother called a family meeting to address the situation where the reprieve was suggested as she said she will not leave her son to be thrown out of the original family home and that he should be allowed to continue his studies until he is able to fend for himself, juxtapose all that to the tolerance ads that the young man mentioned that he also brought up as his own defense in trying to find middle ground and with the whole discussion of homosexuality in the public domain his father also is hitting out that gays are trying to force their lifestyle on everyone else and that he never thought his own son who should provide grand children for him to admire will be “f**ckin men” As we know all too well not all family scenarios similar to this end up resolved violence free or with some level of understanding being brought to the table.

Psycho emotional bond

However that psycho emotional bond between mother and son or in other words as they say mothers always know seems to have helped yet another case of near displacement not to get out of hand, mothers usually seem to be the ones who arrive at some amicable settlement in these tense moments regarding sons and vice versa regarding lesbians or same gender loving women. Let me not forget to thank our friend for allowing the story to be shared as we try to shed some more light on issues affecting the community at varying levels.

Some additional reading on the Attachment theory

Attachment Theory and the Importance of the Parent-Child Emotional Bond

There are few subjects in modern psychological theory that provoke as immediate a response as the struggle to understand child-parent relationships. The consensus and pervasiveness of “mother issues” dominates psychological self-help topics and parental anxiety about how we will “shape” our children drives the multi-billion dollar child-development media industry. There have been a plentitude of theories about what children need in order to thrive, feel confident, develop a strong sense of self esteem and form healthy relationships. Yet, while theories about the child-parent bond and its impact on child development have remained plentiful throughout the last century, until the past three decades nothing could be said with scientific authority about almost any dimension of the child-parent relationship and its effects, whether good or bad. A clearer picture has emerged since John Bowlby developed his theory about attachment and Mary Ainsworth began to test its premise. Today, the principles behind attachment theory have spawned an enormous amount of research and provided great insight into the previously much discussed but little understood impact of the child-parent relationship, though it is not without its controversies and detractors.

Let us hope during this reprieve the young man can regain his self-confidence and move on to the vital studies due to commence in September also he was referred to a psychologist who is a member of the community as well for follow-up sessions. I will try to provide permitted updates where needed on this case.

Peace and tolerance

H

Men rushed and beaten in New Kingston

So as the carnival season rolls along also deemed as gay pride incognito MSMs everywhere despite social standing seem to take it as a license to let their hair down several cross dressers and cruisers and some homeless same gender loving brothas were said to be having a ball along the Oxford Road thoroughfare on Friday April 29th last around 10pm onwards as several events with soca themes took place nearby.

The behaviour of the men apparently aroused suspicion by some passersby according to reports from several taxi drivers of whom I am familiar with and also who know some of the homeless population as they have developed not so wonderful notoriety in the business district of New Kingston and its environs. So much so that sections of Trafalgar Road nearing the Island Car Rentals where they once congregated and also where the old Super Plus Supermarket used to be has been patrolled heavily now by the police, the car rental company is said to have instituted new security arrangements barring the men from loitering nearby.  The gardens and park immediately across the road as well is also being monitored by cops every now and again but seeing it is a public space it is harder to have the men removed I am told unless they are found loitering and maybe charged for such.

Their ruckus behaviour, sometimes vulgar outbursts and fights in open view of the public coupled with their effeminate entertainment and dancing sometimes supported by friends who park their posh top of the line vehicles with loud dancehall music blaring has not helped their situation any, even as I have carried previous entries on this population they have still been ignored to a certain extent save and except for the once a week drop in for showers at a Non Governmental Organizations property and offices and some food items distributed on some Fridays the men have very little sympathy from the rest of the LGBT community, even allies who had supported some of my calls for more to be done for them have since rescinded their stance due to the intolerance of their improper public conduct. The cross dressing and very skimpy clothing used in the transvestite activity has not found favour either with both community and mainstream alike.

So it seems members of the public have also had their share and were not willing to stomach it anymore seeing that the men were dancing wildly and were loud on the Oxford Road stretch all the way passed Emancipation Park onwards, it is believed they were followed by unscrupulous characters who laid siege on them just beside the Police post in New Kingston on Knutsford Boulevard where the final showdown happened, several of the infamous “biker boys” who have been known to attack homeless and other perceived MSMs before in New Kingston as they often congregate on the Hip Strip near the former Asylum Night Club known reopened and known as the Building.

As the men pranced about some taking on the latest dancehall move positions in public literally gyrating on the hands and heads down came the attackers said to be seven in all with two on bikes the men gave chase and the gyrating MSMs scattered, many were badly bruised while two who were caught directly by their attackers were treated to severe blows drawing blood, one person was thrown directly into a Jamaica National Money Shop complex just across from the Police post which was said to be almost empty as the cops monitored the events and pedestrian raffic patronizing them. The property was damaged as the glass windows and doors shattered due to the impact. The two brothers were bleeding and finally made good their escape as others in the group ran in a zig zag form to create diversions and deliberately confuse their attackers, many onlookers who were passing cheered and urged the attackers to exact their hate. One taxi driver said other taxi drivers many of whom were not regulars on the strip but who were waiting for business chanted words to the effect that battyman fi dead.

It is also speculated by the taxi community and others some of the bikers themselves are homosexuals or bisexuals and that the attack may not have been homophobic but made to look so so as to legitimize it and not face criticisms as well from a curious public, it is reported that the men have been threatened before by the bikers et al that they should stop acting too effeminate in public and “showing up the ting dem” or being too revealing in public, under the guise of homophobic slurs. Could this have been out of effemophobia? as hinted in a recent post on Gay Lesbian Bisexual Queer and Intersexed (GLBTQJA) blogger edition on cruising and the problems that section of the same gender loving community faces where downlow gays also use very public homophobic typed attacks to blackmail or enact revenge on other more open effeminate MSMs. This particular problem is not new to our community. One of the men was called by name by a victim in the group and the cronies of the attackers almost turned on him inquiring as to how the man came into knowledge of his name.

Also see: Other cruising challenges entries on Gay Jamaica Watch

Several of the injured men have since sought help from friends while others have sought medical attention to nurse their bruises and pain from the brawl. Feedback so far from within the community has not been good as many also concur with the popular mainstream view that the men are just too open and attract unneeded attention to themselves while it is also a plus some say to which I also subscribe that they serve a useful purpose as they through their outward and openness in effeminacy and the popular stereotype of male homosexuals remind the rest of the Jamaica we are here and are not going anywhere, maybe there ought to be and are martyrs amongst us whether we like it or not.

Meanwhile a popular drag queen also had to beat a hasty retreat from The Mass Camp the same night as she was dancing with a man who eventually detected she was in fact a he and a disturbance ensued stopping the music for some time a leaving patrons in shock at the discovery, she reportedly also received several blows before the security detail and the police quelled the uproar.

Peace and tolerance

H

Coming Out: Living Openly on Your Terms & Being Open With Yourself…..

Please remember coming out day is October 11th worldwide and October 12th in the United Kingdom.

Also see October – LGBT History, Breast Cancer Month & Coming Out Day (Oct 11th) on Gay Jamaica Watch

Also see Making a Coming Out Plan

Coming Out Telling Family Members

Living Openly on Your Terms

As you continue to live openly, here are some other points to consider:

■ It’s important to remember that the journey from “Coming Out” to “Living Openly” is ongoing, and unfolds at your own pace.

■ Living openly is something that becomes easier with time, it will often take a little energy when you tell someone new even after you’ve been open for years — but it gets exponentially easier with time.

■ Living openly as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight-supportive person can help to make it easier for young GLBT people who will follow this generation.

■ Living openly can be a passive expression of who you are — such as not hiding a rainbow or equality sticker or a loved one’s photograph — or it can be a deliberate process involving a planned conversation or the decision to always be ready to affirm your sexual orientation or gender identity should a situation arise.

■ Living openly doesn’t mean that the sole, or even primary, aspect of your identity is being GLBT. It means making this part of your life a natural piece of you — just like your age, height, hair color or personality.

■ Living openly lets other people know, especially those who are judgmental or biased, that their attitudes are theirs alone.

■ On a daily basis, you will face decisions about where, when and how to come out — or where, when and why not to. Always remember, this is your journey. You get to decide how to take it.

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also

Being Open With Yourself

From birth, most of us are raised to think of ourselves as fitting into a certain mold. Our culture and our families teach us that we are “supposed” to be attracted to people of the opposite sex, and that boys and girls are supposed to look, act and feel certain ways. Few of us were told we might fall in love with someone of the same sex, or that we might have a gender identity that differs from the body into which we were born. That’s why so many of us are scared, worried or confused when facing these truths.

Opening up to the possibility that you may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or even just questioning means opening up to the idea that you’re on a path that’s your own. It’s also why coming out and living ever more openly is a profoundly liberating experience.

In the end, and at the beginning, the first person you have to be open with is yourself.

Throughout the coming out process, it’s normal to feel:

■ Scared

■ Confused

■ Vulnerable

■ Empowered

■ Exhilarated

■ Relieved

■ Proud

■ Uncertain

■ Brave

■ Affirmed

Continue to: Deciding to Tell Others

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