Ask Ala: Pride
By Ala Paruch
Volume 1 Issue 8
June 8, 2021
Image provided by TED Ideas
Hello dear readers!
With the PRIDE month here, we want to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community and show them how much we care for them. As an ally myself, I encourage everyone to support and listen to your friends, not only during pride month but every day. Here is some advice for the LGBTQ+ community from the Alliance Club:
So, you've decided to come out.
First things first, I'm proud of you! Coming out is a big step, and it requires tremendous amounts of effort to reach that level of comfort with yourself.
However, coming out can be tricky, and while we have made progress on LGBTQ+ rights and protections, it's important to know that you know your situation best. Your safety is the biggest priority when coming out. If you feel that coming out may create threats to your safety (whether that is physical, mental, financial, or otherwise) ‒ then it is probably not the right time to come out. I know it can be painful to hide such a large part of yourself from people you love, your identity is a big part of you! It's something to be celebrated, not shunned. Nonetheless, until you feel 100% sure that it won't impact your safety, it may be best to lay low.
Of course, as I said before, you know your situation best, but remember ‒ safety should be your #1 priority.
Coming to terms with your sexuality or gender can be an incredibly difficult process, from acknowledging who you are, trying to figure yourself out and then finally accepting yourself, it can be a process filled with immense inner turmoil. First and foremost, you have to stop making up excuses and start telling yourself it’s okay to question and explore. Trying to repress your feelings only makes the struggle worse, learn to accept the fact that the feelings you have are normal and valid. Then you can try to gain a deeper understanding of those feelings. Go and research, ask others questions and take your time thinking about it! (There’s always someone in The Alliance who’d be willing to talk to you!) However, it is important to remember that you never need to label yourself if you don’t want to. This is all about what you feel, and so you decide what you get to do with those feelings. Lastly, you have to accept yourself. Besides allowing yourself to feel your true feelings, you also have to accept yourself and therefore those feelings too. Find beauty and strength in your experiences and live them out to the fullest! After going through these struggles, you deserve it! I am so proud of you for being here and for trying your best! You will find happiness, and it does get better.
“Coming out” is usually seen as this huge, one time, make it or break it event; but honestly, it’s really not. As a queer person, you’ll have to come out for the. rest. of. your. entire. life. That was a bit of an exaggeration, but the point still stands. Although you don’t owe anyone an explanation about your identity, you’ll most likely have to “come out” to new people you meet for the rest of your life; not to mention that sometimes your identities change, so you might “re-come out.”
Being able to come out in the first place while keeping calm is something that takes time and practice. But if you want to make it easier on yourself, try writing some kind of script and memorizing it. So, when the time comes, it’ll be easier to explain your identity. Also try to keep track of common questions people ask so you’ll be better prepared to address them if someone happens to ask.
[Excerpt from Being a Good Ally]
First, be calm. Reacting with a surprised tone can come off as negative or demeaning during this experience.
Second, be kind. From what I previously said, it's very tough and scary for someone to come out to you, so make sure that they know how much you care about them. An example of this is showing them that you still love and support them, and show them that you will stick up for them.
Third, be proud. This will contribute to the aspect of being kind. By fully and openly supporting your friend shows them how proud you are of them, who they are, and the courage it took them. An example of this is how all of my friends took me to the Pride parade in NYC in 2019 to show their support.
Finally, be understanding. Someone who is doing all of this is going through a lot of trauma, and they might be frustrated with other people's reactions or just the stress of coming out. So if they might be struggling at being a good friend or whatever it is, understand that they are going through something that not many people experience, and they are just struggling.