While we’d all love to think that times have changed and everything is simpler now, the truth of the matter is far from it. Many people have started to embrace their sexuality and the conversation about it is also something that is generally more accepted. That being said, there is still a major stigma attached to people and the community in general. The fight for equality for the LGBTQIA community is an ongoing battle. We need more conversations and more education when it comes to matters pertaining to the community and in order to that, we need to understand things on an individual level. So, today, let’s talk about coming out of the closet and why it’s essential to have a safe space for people.
Coming out of the closet is one of the scariest things an individual can go through. While some people know about their sexuality for a while and may be comfortable with it, others still need to come to terms with who they are. Finding yourself, your true self, is something that requires a lot of introspection and thought. It’s a turbulent time and the whole thing can take a heavy toll on your mind and emotionally drain you. The first step after you analyse yourself is coming to terms and accepting yourself. Before you’re ready to take on the world, you need to ensure that you’ve come out to yourself. It may sound silly, but it’s important. You can’t live in denial and pretend to be happy forever.
Once you’ve come out to yourself, it’s time to take on the world. But, coming out to your friends and family isn’t as easy as that. It’s actually when the real rollercoaster ride starts. It’s the time when all the questions start rushing to your mind. Questions like – What will people think? What will they say? Will they accept me? Will I end up alone? etc. These questions have the ability to give even the strongest person the shivers. While sometimes friends and family may end up being supportive of it, the thought that they could change the way they look at you and what they think about you after that, is not something everyone can handle.
A major contributing factor towards why fewer people prefer to come out of the closet is because of the social stigma attached to it. While we would all like to look at the pretty picture, the reality is a lot grimmer. From being called names to being threatened and harassed, people have had to deal with the extremes. The chances that you may be alienated by your peers and family are all too high. The thing is, people aren’t comfortable with change. They aren’t ready to let go of their inhibitions and actually start thinking with an open mind. No matter how progressive you assume someone is, sometimes, their thoughts are still stuck in a time long lost. The fact is, coming out of the closet, at least in India, is pretty hit or miss. The chances of it going wrong are a lot higher than going right. For that reason, a lot of people prefer to keep their sexuality hidden or force themselves into things that they don’t want to do.
A safe space, as the name suggests, is a place where people can gather, express and talk about themselves, without the fear of being judged or ridiculed. It’s a space that is dedicated to talking about anything and everything that is bothering someone and that includes topics that pertain to sexuality. Not only is this something that is needed in offices but it’s also something that could be of great use in a school or college. A lot of kids nowadays are more in tune with their sexuality and having space where they can talk about it, or someone they can talk to about these things helps eliminate a lot of the pressure they might be feeling. While guidance counsellors or work therapists exist, the need for a community space and an open forum is also essential.
In today’s time, more and more people are falling victim to issues that pertain to mental health. Depression and suicide rates are at an all-time high and seem to be on a continuous rise. Are you wondering how this is relevant? Well, think about everything you’ve just read. The emotional turmoil and all the pressure one feels while figuring out their sexuality and then dealing with the rollercoaster ride of coming out, is enough to send anyone in a downward spiral. The rate of depression and suicide among the LGBTQIA community is nothing short of alarming. A space like this can help people process their emotions and act as a security blanket. It can literally be the difference mean all the difference and help reduce the struggle.
We have the ability to help make people feel more included. It’s time we retire these ideas and notions and open our minds to the possibility of things. There is nothing worse than living a lie and being in denial your self. Step out and talk about it. The more we engage in a conversation, the more we manage to pave the path for others to come.