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Let’s Get Moving with Maria: Navigating the ‘coming out’ conversation

hand holds a heart painted like a LGBT flag, silhouetted against sun. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Tough conversations are inevitable. People are forced to have conversations about a wide variety of topics they don’t know how to tackle.  Maybe it’s a spouse asking for a divorce. Perhaps it’s a boss laying off employees days before the rent is due. Or, maybe it’s a child or loved one disclosing they’re LGBTQIA*.

None of these conversations are easy–but they are necessary and impactful.

The ‘coming out’ conversation is becoming more frequent. A 2019 Gallup poll found 1 in 4 or 23.6% of Americans identifies as gay or lesbian. Also, a 2017 Gallup poll found 4.5% of Americans are LGBT.

Dr. Liz Hale said it best to KSL NewsRadio Host Maria Shilaos: “We have LGBTQ members of in our society, in our family, in our churches and synagogues, who are [LGBTQ] and we just don’t know it yet.”

However, statics show LGBTQ identities are growing in number and young adults make up the bulk of the population. LGBTQ millennials rose from 7.3%-8.1% in a year. Altogether, the 2017 Gallup poll reported LGBTQ folk has increased by 10%.

It’s not outlandish to believe a loved one will eventually come out as LGBTQ. It’s a conversation that is engrained in the minds of both parties long after the initial talk. Dr. Liz Hale joins Let’s Get Moving with Maria with pointers on how to navigate the sexual identity shift of a loved one.

Approaching openness

Regardless of the statistics, family and friends coming out as LGBTQ can be surprising.

The first step, according to Dr. Hale, is recognizing the news can be difficult to process.

For example, parents often hold certain expectations of their children and when those expectations are altered, coping can be difficult. If accepting the change right away isn’t personally possible, it’s something to work towards.

Dr. Hale encourages everyone involved in the conversation, to be honest. Even if the only response is, “I don’t know what to do,” it invites dialogue. LGBTQ friends and family want those in their lives to accept them for who they are.

Working towards the mindset of “you are here now. Tell me who you are. Show me who you are. And I am going to guide and help you,” is a good goal to strive for, said Dr. Hale.

The second step is to seek support.

“Don’t do this alone. Find other parents so you can refuel and go back to your child and listen and try to understand and really get it from their perspective,” said Dr. Hale.

Engage in discussion with those who may be experiencing the same transitions. There are support groups all over the country for family and friends of LGBTQ folk. Resources such as social media groups, non-profit organizations, and local community centers exist to gather emotional clarity.

Continue the conversation

As the LGBTQ population grows, “we have something to learn from each other,” said Dr. Hale.

While heterosexual people may turn towards social groups during a dark time, “the same sacred spaces and places many of us feel safe and secure in, our friends and family who are LGBTQ, they feel terrified and hopeless,” said Dr. Hale.

Ask questions about their identity, ask them to guide you through the process, and ask how you can best support your LGBTQ loved one. Give LGBTQ voices a safe space to be heard.

When an LGBTQ member comes out, they’re attempting to get rid of the “wedges and barries” in their life,” said Dr. Hale. When the barrier isn’t there, “we’re closely connected, open dialogue and the relationship is better.”

“It’s not a one and done kind of conversation,” said Dr. Hale. ” “You’ll want to continue connecting, learning and listening long term.”

Resources

Support for LGBTQIA*:
Support for parents of LGBTQ youth:
Support hotlines:

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