All students deserve to be supported and celebrated. Coming out is specific to each individual. The Coming Out Support Process was created to holistically support students and staff in their coming out/in to their LGBTQIA2S+ selves.
Note: LGBTQIA2S+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, and the many other sexual orientations, gender identities, and romantic orientations someone may have that affirms who they are.
This process was developed to offer support when someone comes out. The support that is offered here is multi-dimensional. First, this process is here to help LGBTQIA2S+ students and staff as they come into these exciting places. Second, this support process offers resources, templates, and guides to student allies, faculty and staff, and families. This process provides helpful information to questions that you may have.
Coming out is different for everyone. Coming out is first a process of getting to know yourself and then being able to share this amazing part of who you are with others when you are ready and on your terms. Coming out can sometimes feel scary because you are unsure about how those around you will receive this information. You know your circumstances and situation better than anyone else, so how and when you choose to come out may be different for you than it is for someone else, as there is no one way to come out. The first time we choose to invite someone into this space of knowing is an opportunity for you to be able to live your truth and share this with others. It is a gift to be able to share this piece of yourself with others, and there is no obligation around who you tell, the order you tell people, or when you tell people. What matters is that you have the agency and knowledge to determine the order, the people, and the method you use to share how you identify.
Coming out is also not a one-time event. The first time we come out might feel big in many ways, but as we continue to uncover who we are, coming out can happen in many nuanced ways as well. This could look like sharing your pronouns with someone, introducing someone to your partner(s), or just living your day-to-day life. Coming out can often feel like it needs to be a grand proclamation, and if that is what you want to do, amazing! Coming out can also look like living your authentic life and letting people ‘catch on’. You can live your coming out in other words.
You also may come out more than once as you get to know your LGBTQIA2S+ self and find more affirming language. Sometimes we try out a label or a set of pronouns to see how they resonate, and sometimes they stick and other times we find ones that are a better fit. This is a part of the process! This process invites possibility. You are not tied to one set of pronouns or labels. This is a process in which you get to determine what describes you the best, and sometimes this may be no label. Coming out is unique to each individual as there is no one way to be queer, this is one of the many amazing pieces about being LGBTQIA2S+.
As you navigate what coming out looks like for you, you might also sit with what you do and do not want to share with others. For example, the conversation you have with your best friend might look different than telling your mailperson that you’ve changed your name. Again, you are (and should be) at the center of this process. You can decide who needs to know what information.
No matter what coming out looks like for you, there is tremendous strength in your vulnerability. You do not owe anyone your coming out, it is your gift to share. Regardless of how the person you are sharing this piece of your identity with responds, you are an amazing person who deserves to be able to live life in ways that are going to be the most affirming for you and invite queer and trans joy.
Coming in is related to coming out. The phrase ‘coming in’ resonates more for some folks rather than the phrase ‘coming out’. Coming in can mean, coming in to living our truths and inviting people into this space. The phrase ‘coming out’ might not resonate for all as it can feel like there is implied pressure to tell folks. Whereas coming in implies that the power belongs to the person who invites people in at their discretion into knowing. This is similar to coming out, but just a variation in approach and finding affirming terminology and practices along the way.