Many of us might be reasonably accused of living in a bubble — a contented bubble where our friends and community look and sound a lot like us. In my family, we actually chose to live in a neighbourhood that was known to be progressive and caring.
It would have been a shock to us if any of our friends or neighbours reacted negatively when our child came out.
When we read about countries that are still, or again, outlawing LGBTQ expression in some way, we ache for the children who are growing up in those countries thinking they are not worthy.
Between our accepting circle and those countries though, there are children who are mortified by their gender identity or sexual orientation because they know with certainty that their families and community will not accept them.
Last year, we did our presentation to a group of students at Seneca College. When it came time for questions, a student asked why we were so relentlessly positive about coming out. In truth, we thought we had been fair about what it’s like to come out, both the good and the bad. But our version of “bad” didn’t begin to describe what this student was sure would ensue if they came out at home.
The student lives in Toronto.
Even in our wonderful city and country, where the Prime Minister and Mayor happily announce they will walk in this year’s Pride Parade, there are young people begging us to address their reality when we speak. So we do:
If it is not safe to come out, you don’t have to. If you already know your parents are not accepting, you might have to negotiate a situation where you are out with classmates but not at home. You might consider waiting until you are old enough to have a little independence before coming out.
In the meantime you can join your school’s GSA (gay-straight alliance) as an ally. You can call Youthline toll-free at 1.800.268.9688 and in the Toronto Area at 416.962.9688. And of course you can call us at 416-406-6378.
You are not alone.