Having never had the experience of coming out myself but being in receipt of the news I can’t say I know first hand about the difficulties and pain that comes with this decision. I do know that I can see and hear about the pain and discomfort that many people face when they think about telling someone something so personal about themselves that they believe won’t be accepted. The fear of being judged and rejected can be overwhelming. So changing from coming out to “Inviting In” does shift the focus from asking for acceptance to offering to share a part of who you are. Much the same as choosing to share other private beliefs you have. It’s a sign of trust in the relationship the burden is now on the person who has been chosen to step up and offer their support!
So how do we show this support? Firstly suspend all your preconceived judgements and ideas about sexuality. Listen to what the person is saying to you. There are no rule books to sexuality and gender. Life depends on diversity to survive. As human’s we are constantly engineering and cross pollinating to ensure there is diversity and progression. We continually improve technology to ensure success – think about how slow the internet used to be! Or worse when it didn’t exist. We engineering new foods and plants, I’m confident that there were no rainbow roses when I was growing up and yet they are hard not to appreciate now. So instead of being stuck in the past move into the present and accept the diversity of sexuality and gender.
Secondly do a little research. Gender and sexuality are quite diverse. It’s not just about heterosexual or homosexual, and female or male. There are so many great resources available where you can get the information you need, The Rainbow Network, Twenty10 and Beyond Blue offer a few different types of resources you might find helpful. Twenty10 have also released a YouTube video for gender diverse young people, their families and communities created by young people participating in a series of Digital Storytelling Workshops held at Twenty10 in June 2012.
My third tip is a simple one and that’s listen. So often I hear people who are worried about what they say, will it be wrong, what if I hurt someone with my words. The most damage you can do to someone is not in what you say but it’s when you don’t listen. Listening is a sign of respect, it doesn’t mean that you agree with someone but it means you respect their right to have their own opinions and share them. It’s respecting their right to be acknowledge and be who they are.
There are of course many more tips I could share but ultimately these are the top three. If you can be accepting of diversity, make an attempt to understand the diversity and listen to someone then the rest of the journey for both of you will be a lot easier. This week on campus is Pride Week, so get along to some of the events (find out more from NUSA) and learn more and show your support of diversity.