ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — October 11, National Coming Out Day, is a time intended to increase LGBTQ visibility.
“Part of having an LGBTQ identity is that it’s not always visible to others,” said Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, Medical Director of the Children’s Minnesota Gender Health Program. “And so, National Coming Out Day is really a chance to celebrate the community and give that visibility to young people who may really need to see it.”
One Rochester resident, Dr. Jess Garcia, reflected on her coming out story.
“Other people were outing me before I even knew who I was,” she said. “I remember being in like seventh or eighth grade and my brother coming home saying that he had gotten into a fight with another kid at school, because that kid had told him that his sister, me, was a lesbian.”
As it turns out, Garcia is not a lesbian. She is attracted to both men and women and identifies her sexuality as queer.
“I think I finally came to terms with, okay, I’m certainly not straight. And then I started to come out to people sort of slowly but surely at first.”
For some, like Garcia, coming out is a freeing process.
“I just sort of live my truth,” she said. “I know some people aren’t going to be okay with it, but I have to be okay with me.”
Unfortunately, for others, coming out means severing ties with friends or family.
“It’s always very difficult especially to come out to your family, because you’re worried about being rejected, of being thrown out of the family,” said Vangie Castro, human and civil rights activist. “That happens a lot. There are a lot of LGBTQ+ youth who are homeless because their family rejects them.”
LGBTQ children experience higher rates of not only homelessness, but also depression and suicide. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the CDC, LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at nearly three times the rate of their heterosexual peers. But many hope National Coming Out Day provides solidarity and comfort for those who need it most.
“National Coming Out Day is important, because it’s not only an opportunity for the kids who feel safe to come out, but it’s also an opportunity for the kids who don’t feel safe to see examples of other people who can come out, so that when they get to a place in their life where they do feel safe they have some role models to look up to,” said Goepferd.
“And that’s something that happens not just National Coming Out Day. That’s something that happens all the time.”