What help and support is there if you're coming out?

One of the hardest things to face in life is realising that something you feel so strongly about may be met with criticism, judgement, and disdain by those who don't agree with it.

The LGBTQ community and those that support and love them face this judgement and criticism daily. So often, individuals are met with mistreatment from seemingly benign jokes, to verbal insults, unequal treatment and in the most extreme cases, physical violence. Fortunately, there are several organisations, awareness campaigns, and events that help promote awareness and acceptance about this very important issue.

One such event, National Coming Out Day, is an annual LGBTQ awareness day, observed each year on October 11th. This event traces its roots back to 1987, when half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Social media is already gearing up for this day posting messages of encouragement and support to anyone who is contemplating coming out to family and friends.

Many LGBTQ individuals think about coming out to family and friends at some point in their lives; and while some make the decision to have the conversation, others choose to not involve their family in that part of their life.

But here's the thing; there is no right or wrong way to approach coming out to family, friends, or co-workers. Each person is different and will approach the situation on his or her own time. When an individual is ready to discuss this very personal decision, there is an abundance of resources online; the word is getting out. However, we still lack knowledge and understanding when it comes to acceptance, support, and services with LGBTQ issues.

Those who do decide to come out to family and friends, often face a multitude of responses that usually comes in waves. Sometimes it is shock and denial; while other at times deal guilt and expression of their feelings. Ultimately the goal is true acceptance on the part of those that are in your life, but very often this does not happen and people are left to look for other support systems.

Groups like PFLAG, and GSA are making a difference in providing awareness and support, and are a great place for people to start when they need resources for themselves, family, and friends.

Coming out - whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or allied - STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Each year on October 11th, National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly.