National Coming Out Day sheds light on acceptance, providing tools for parents and allies to support LGBTQ+ youth
DELMARVA – “In September 2018, I started living my life and my truth as Jay-Xavier, a black transman,” said Jay-Xavier (pronouns he/him).
Jay-Xavier and Amber Lee are a couple and tell me today is not only a celebration of love.
“I actually didn’t come out as pansexual until I was 35. I didn’t really find out who I was until then,” said Amber Lee.
National Coming Out Day is a celebration of acceptance and the marks anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
“Pride month is about visibility and community building, whereas National Coming Out Day is about encouragement and inclusivity,” Salisbury PFLAG Board President Nicole Hollywood. “It’s a day in which allies, family, and youth can all come together and feel that the first obstacle is already taken care of and that you created a safe environment for people to come out,” Executive Director of Salisbury PFLAG Mark DeLancey.
Those safe spaces are even more crucial now for LGBTQ youth.
“I think coming out as an adult is very different. I’m already well established in my personality and who I am. So it’s not like the youth where parents might not accept them. Not everyone has a good coming out story,” said Lee. “The suicide rate is very high in LGBT youth. We don’t need to be the ones with the blood on our hands, we need to be their biggest support system,” said Jay-Xavier.
As many continue on their own journey to acceptance, I’m told the focus now is making sure parents, guardians, and allies have the tools needed for those who still have stories to tell. “There’s no harm in calling someone he/him, she/her, they/them, or whatever their request is. By not doing it, you could trigger them to have self-harm. Not everyone has good support systems, so we just need to be there for our youth and support them,” said Lee.
“The youth needs someone to look at and say ‘Hey that’s me’,” said Jay-Xavier.
Advocates also say when someone knows a person who is LGBTQ+, they’re more likely to support and be an advocate for change. Yet, they want to encourage all to stand in the fight for equality.
To find out more about the resources Salisbury PFLAG offers, head over to their website www.salisburypflag.com