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12: Coming out

Photo by torbakhopper / Flickr / CC-BY

Photo by torbakhopper / Flickr / CC-BY

Today, we’re talking about coming out. Specifically…

Do minority groups have a responsibility to be vocal about who / what they are?

Show notes and links:
Sexual Prejudice: Understanding Homophobia and Heterosexism (The Center for HIV Law and Policy)

Study: People Who Come Out of the Closet Are Happier and Healthier (The Atlantic)


Full episode text

Being a part of any minority group is and can be very rough – sometimes at the best of times. While statistically, we are all “different” in at least a few ways, the statistical average is, quite simply, not average.

Most often, this is put in the context of non-heterosexual sexuality or non-cis gender identity. However, this same question applies to a variety of minority groups, from religious minorities to political minorities.

Research – notably Dr. Gregory Herek’s work – has shown fairly consistently that having a personal relationship with someone that is open about being a part of minority group tends to have a positive impact on an individual’s opinion of that group – especially when you have more than one of those relationships. Researchers in Canada found that being “out” or open about who you are reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and even long-term cynicism.

However, coming out or being open is not always safe nor easy. There’s a huge body of research showing there is increased stress from being a token, or from seeing no representation of those like yourself. So is there a responsibility to be out if you safely can be?