Coming out is a process of open-mindedness and understanding the value of one’s sexual or gender identity.
This process happens in a variety of ways and occurs at different ages for different people. Generally, coming out includes both seeking and sharing one’s identity, and it is a very personal experience.
Coming out is a continuous, sometimes life-long process. Being open and honest is not always simple, but coming out can allow you to be more openly expressive, and form healthy, sincere relationships with others. Coming out can be one of the most empowering and satisfying decisions a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person can make.
If you’re thinking of coming out, keep these things in mind:
- Who would provide you with the most support? Recognize those in your family or circle of friends who are most likely to be approachable and supportive. Also, remember that other LGBTQ people are a natural source of support. There are many resources on the Hartwick College Campus The Counseling Center, 50-50 Peer Helpers.
- Have an idea of what and how you want to say. Being intentional about the time and place that will be most comfortable for you is also important.
- Be honest! Explain to the other person that you have not changed and you are the same person you were before the conversation began. Coming out only reveals another aspect of your identity.
- It is important to remember that you took time to come to terms with your identity and you must allow others the same. Give them time to understand the feelings you have shared.
- Most importantly, search for your own pathway throughout the coming out process.
Coming Out Resources at Hartwick College
- We have professional staff who can meet individually with students who are dealing with coming out to themselves, roommates, family, faculty, friends, etc.
- There is a great resource called “Read This Before Coming Out to Your Parents” that was put together by P-FLAG and is available online.
- Another really good resource is “Be Yourself” available online. (PDF Link)
- We have copies of a Resource Guide to Coming Out from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Washington, D.C., 2004 available online.
- We also have a resource library with books, films, and magazines that students can check out at no charge on the fourth floor of Dewar Union.
- Student organizations also provide a great way to meet other LGBT students and get involved socially or politically. Check out HIA, Hartwick Identity Alliance, Hartwick’s LGBTQ & Ally student organization.
Cultural issues for international students and students of color struggling with their sexuality place additional stress on the process of coming out. There are other resources that these students may find helpful available online from HRC. We also have resources available in the office,
Creating a “Safe Space” for Students
Hartwick College faculty and staff are committed to creating safe spaces for the entire student body. Here are a few tips to help make your space safe:
- Arrange your office in a supportive and neutral manner:
- Make sure your magnet or sticker is visible
- If you have LGBTQ friendly materials, have them available and ready
Help students define their own issues (feelings, thoughts, ideas)
- What are the main problems or issues?
- Are they related to campus, roommate, or home?
- Help structure limitations and future relationships
- Refer students to appropriate services, counseling center, campus safety, or the Office of Intercultural Affairs.
- PFLAG (National)
- PFLAG (Otsego County)
Local and National Resources
Leatherstocking Regiona/Otsego County Area Resources:
- Family Planning
37 Dietz Street
Oneonta, NY 13820
- Binghamton Area Rainbow Association (BARA)
- Lesbian and Gay Family Building Project
c/o Ferre Institute, Inc.
- Empire State Pride
- Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council (CDGLCC)
- Out and About New York State
- Otsego County: Parents, Families, and Friends Of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
- Capital Region Support Group for Family & Friends of Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People
First Unitarian Universalist Society
Building 1221 Wendell Avenue
Schenectady, NY 12308