Coming out to one’s family can be difficult, especially during the holiday season.
Ohio University’s LGBT Center will aim to help students deal with the topic as part of its Dine-N-Discuss series. The center will host its annual “being out and coming out during Winter Break” session Tuesday.
“We often talk about coming out and sort of the steps people take to come out, but what does that mean on a daily basis? Do we have to say (something like), ‘I’m a trans person,’ every day or just simply be who we are and not have to make those statements?” delfin bautista, the director of the LGBT Center, said.
If You Go
What: Dine-N-Discuss: Being Out and Coming Out During Winter Break
When: Noon, Tuesday
Where: LGBT Center, Baker 354
The discussion will take place at noon Tuesday in Baker 354 and focus on topics such as dealing with religion and what it means to be out as an LGBT-identifying individual. Michelle Pride, the training director for Counseling and Psychological Services, will speak at the event.
One of the reasons the discussion has been held every year is because LGBT-identifying people may not always have an alternative housing option to stay at during school breaks, bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, said. Although OU’s residence halls stay open during Thanksgiving and spring break, students may still have to return to their family homes during summer and winter breaks.
“Throughout the academic year, you only go home for a weekend. For LGBT folks, some of us may be able to go back into the closet for a weekend, (but) this is now a month … where people have to be home,” bautista said. “What if they came out during the semester (but) they’re not out at home? How do they manage that … at risk of being kicked out?”
One of the questions that LGBT-identifying individuals often face is if they have a partner of the opposite sex, bautista said.
Iggy Cossman said he has a friend who was often asked that question whenever he returned home for the holidays.
“It happened to my friend Jacob before he came out,” Cossman, a senior studying screenwriting and producing, said. “I think he had (to make up) a fake girlfriend at one point.”
Cossman said it is a lot more difficult for LGBT-identifying individuals to face those questions, especially if they had not told their families about their gender or sexual orientation.
“It’s been helpful to a lot of folks … to hear from each other and recognize that there are others who have similar questions and concerns,” bautista said.
The focus of the discussion is not to tell people come out to their families about their sexual and gender identities, bautista said. It’s about helping LGBT-identifying individuals learn ways to take care of themselves during winter break and tips and tricks on how to deal with their families while back home.
“Sometimes … it’s a survival,” bautista said. “It doesn’t mean that you’re not proud to be an LGBT person, but it just means that you’re trying to survive.”