Jo, a member of the Student Wellbeing Team, talks about National Coming Out Day on 11th October…
From birth, most of us are raised to think of ourselves as fitting into a certain mould. Our culture and our families teach us that we are ‘supposed to’ be attracted to people of a different sex, and that boys and girls are supposed to look, act and feel certain ways.
Few of us were told we might be attracted to or fall in love with someone of the same sex, or that we might have a gender identity that differs from the body into which we were born.
That’s why for so many people, it can be extremely scary, worrying or confusing when facing these truths.
Opening up to the possibility that you may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or simply questioning means opening up to the idea that you’re on a path that’s your own. It’s also why coming out and living more openly can, for many people, be a profoundly liberating experience.
National coming out day
National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an annual LGBT+ awareness day observed on 11th October, which encourages people to live openly, because homophobia thrives in atmospheres of silence and ignorance. In the LGBT+ Community, ‘coming out’ means the voluntary self-disclosure of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Coming out is, for many people, an extremely positive and liberating experience. To be able to reveal to the world a person’s true self can often feel as if a great weight has been lifted from their shoulders. They may feel happy and relieved that other people can now see and know them as their authentic selves.
In the process of sharing who they are, they may also help to break down common stereotypes about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or another identity.
Coming out is different for everyone
There is no one right or wrong way to come out or live openly. Coming Out it is a different process for everyone, and people must make decisions in their own way, in their own time.
Whilst there are benefits, there may also be risks and consequences involved and it’s important to weigh both risks and rewards before making a choice to tell others.
Also, choosing to come out or to be open does not mean you have to be out at all times or in all places — you decide how, where and when, based on what’s right for you.
Coming out as transgender
The process of ‘coming out’ as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and the process of ‘coming out’ as trans can be seen as very different things.
Coming out to other people as lesbian, gay, or bisexual is commonly seen as revealing a truth that allows others to know your authentic self, and it is common to place great importance and value on the idea of being ‘out’ in order to be happy and whole.
Some trans people will choose to come out and will openly identity as trans. However, for others, they may simply want to be seen as their gender-affirmed selves. If they have transitioned and are now living as their authentic gender – that is their truth. The world now sees them as their true selves. In addition, unfortunately it can often feel disempowering or un-safe for a trans person to disclose to others that they are trans, and it’s important not to assume that it’s necessary for a trans person to always disclose that they are trans in order to feel happy and whole.
You’re in charge
When you weigh the benefits and risks of being open about who you are, it’s important to remember that the person in charge of your coming out journey is you.
You decide who to confide in, when to do it and how. You also decide when coming out just may not be right, necessary or advisable.
On National Coming Out Day on 11th October, Rainbow Bridge (a free confidential support service for LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse), Victim Support and South Wales Police will be helping to raise awareness of hate crime and to empower people to be themselves.
There will be stalls and information from 10am-3pm in the Student’s Union and The Hayes in Cardiff City Centre.
Please pop along and say hello to the teams to find out more, using the #NCOD2016 or #hcawcymru16.
Rainbow Bridge and the All Wales Hate Crime Project will also be back this year at the Student Support centre (50 Park Place), offering information, support and advice to LGBT+ Cardiff University students on the last Tuesday of every month, 5.30pm-7.30pm, from Tuesday 25th October.
If you would like to attend a session or simply find out more, please call 0300 3031 982 or email RainbowBridge@victimsupport.org.uk to book a slot today.
Contacting Counselling Health and Wellbeing
If you are struggling to improve your wellbeing, please know Cardiff University Support Services are here for you – there is no problem too big or too small and we would be happy to provide you with some support. We offer a range of flexible support options including:
- Counselling and Wellbeing Appointments
- Face to Face, Online or Telephone
- Wellbeing Walk-in: Drop-in Service running Monday to Friday
- Wellbeing Workshops
- Therapeutic Groups
- Wellbeing Champion Support
- Self-help resources
Bookable appointments are available via our online referral questionnaire. We also offer a Wellbeing Walk-In Service, Monday to Friday, 3pm to 3.45pm and Wednesday mornings, 9.30am to 10.15am, at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place. We also hold a walk-in service at our Student Support Centre in Cardigan House at the Heath, on Wednesday afternoons 3pm to 3.45pm.
Watch our video and see for yourself that we have friendly and approachable staff. Staff who are able to listen to you non-judgmentally, in a safe and confidential space.
If talking to a member of staff is something you are not sure about, why not chat to one of our Student Wellbeing Champions. They are trained student volunteers who can signpost you to support, offer you a peer ear and give you basic health and wellbeing advice. If you would like to see our Champions in action, check out their video.
If you are worried that you are experiencing physical symptoms that may be affecting your health, we strongly advise you to make a GP appointment to discuss this. If you do not already have a GP, please contact NHS Wales on 0845 46 47 or check out their website to view all of your GP options. The University also has its own GP Practice – Park Place Surgery for those in their catchment area.
Your feedback and help please
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Jo, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team.
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.