As LGBTQ+ History Month comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about the power of coming out. It’s an act of liberation and freedom.
Coming out is the process of embracing one’s authentic self and sharing it with the world while breaking free from the chains of secrecy and shame. It is not only a personal journey but also a political act; by disclosing your true identity, you challenge societal norms and demand recognition and respect for your existence.
For many in the LGBTQ+ community, coming out is a hard, emotional and sometimes taxing process. The fear of rejection, discrimination and the loss of relationships often feels heavy. However, the journey can totally be worth it — it allows you to live life on your own terms and opens the door to a world where love and acceptance can flourish.
It can also be vital for building authentic connections. When you hide your true self, you limit the depth of your relationships. By coming out, you create space for genuine and meaningful connections with others who accept you for who you are and help foster understanding and empathy.
As people come out and share their experiences, the world becomes more aware of the diversity of the forms of human identity. This can really pave the way for greater acceptance and support within families, communities and society as a whole.
This journey isn’t always easy for some folks, but coming out has a profound impact on those who have not yet taken that step as well. It shows the importance of being a role model and a source of inspiration for others struggling with their identity.
When individuals come out, they send a powerful message: “You are not alone.” It encourages others to embrace their true selves and seek the love and acceptance they deserve. That representation is so important.
We all like to see others who look like us, dress like us, think like us and even love like we do. Coming out can help empower someone to do the same, letting them know (as I always say) that they are “loved, accepted and wanted.”
Coming out is a catalyst for challenging prejudice and discrimination. By openly acknowledging your identity, LGBTQ+ individuals confront stereotypes and misconceptions head-on. This can help dispel myths and promote inclusivity. It show the hate and fears people are not the truth.
It humanizes the LGBTQ+ community, putting a face and story to an often misunderstood and stigmatized group and making it harder for society to discriminate against us. When your friends, family and colleagues realize that someone they love and respect is LGBTQ+, it becomes very difficult for them to hold onto biases.
Of course, the real significance of coming out is the impact on one’s mental health. Living in the closet can be incredibly stressful, leading to anxiety, depression and other issues. Secrecy can be unbearable and it can often take a toll on your well-being.
By coming out, you release this burden and take the first steps towards self-acceptance. It can lead to an improved sense of safety and less mental stress, allowing you to embrace your identity with pride and confidence. We should encourage individuals to prioritize their mental health and happiness by taking this courageous step.
We should also remember that coming out is a way of respecting your truth. It’s an acknowledgment of your own identity, a declaration of self-worth and a commitment to living authentically. It’s about showing the world that you deserve love and acceptance just as you are.
It lets you take control of your own narrative and decide how your story is told, rather than allowing others to define it for you. This empowerment allows you to shape your life according to your values and desires.
I will always advocate for seeking support and resources when coming out. The process can be challenging, and I recommend leaning on friends, family and supportive organizations. There are numerous LGBTQ+ support groups, helplines and online communities that can provide guidance and emotional support during this journey. Remember that you do not have to do it alone!
Through my life experience, I have learned that coming out is a powerful and transformative act. It’s a declaration of self-acceptance, a challenge to prejudice and discrimination, and an opportunity to build authentic connections. It’s a journey toward mental health, self-respect, and living an authentic and fulfilling life.
While I know and remember the fears and challenges that accompany coming out, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Individuals not only change their own lives but also contribute to a more inclusive and accepting society. I also know and believe that everyone’s journey is different and your time to come out may be now, it may be tomorrow or it may be next year. It is for you to decide. You have the choice on your unique journey to make this decision.
Your story matters, it is valid and the world needs to hear it. Embrace your truth and come out as yourself — and remember, you are loved, accepted and wanted.
Momma Ashley Rose has performed family friendly drag for over 20 years. She is a philanthropist, public speaker, activist and mentor who founded Rose Dynasty Foundation to help provide a safe space for all. Learn more at RoseDynastyFoundationInc.org.