M.Sc. Adam Schmidt

Entering the world with your true identity is one of the most powerful steps for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. Coming out is not only a personal expression, but a complex process that has a significant impact on mental health and the formation of interpersonal relationships. It is a stage of life that a heterosexual individual does not automatically pass through and carries with it many specific challenges.

Communicating your identity openly can be liberating, but at the same time challenging, as we encounter diverse reactions and prejudices from those around us. This process can require not only strength and courage, but also actively dealing with emotional challenges and seeking support. Coming out creates space to form authentic relationships with the environment and allows the individual to explore and accept their identity. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to form a wider community of people with similar experiences, which can be extremely supportive. It is a stage of life full of important decisions that shape not only the individual but also the dynamics of society towards diversity.

Every comingout story is unique. Some find love and support, while others struggle with misunderstanding and prejudice. . A key element of this process is both self-acceptance and acceptance by others.

“When I announced who I was to the world, it was like I opened the door to my own freedom. But still, not everyone starts clapping.”

We can imagine coming out as when you throw off your mask and reveal your true face, with this act of authenticity you allow yourself to show the world who you really are. This is not only about openly admitting a certain part of one's identity, but also about an expression of freedom and a determination to be authentic. You are creating space for self-expression and freeing yourself from the burden of hiding, which inevitably promotes feelings of inner isolation, anxiety…

Uncovering your true self can be not only emotionally liberating, but also empowering for your mental health. When you choose to embrace your identity and share it with others, you can experience a palpable sense of liberation and relief. This creates the possibility for a deeper connection with other people who can accept and support you, as well as for building authentic relationships.

Although coming out can be a difficult and sometimes painful process, many people who go through this journey feel stronger and more confident afterwards. Through this act of disclosure, stronger bonds can be built with the environment and we also allow room for personal growth. Ultimately, coming out can serve as a catalyst for greater self-acceptance and overall mental comfort.

“Now that I can be myself, I feel a weight on me. I'm not just a drawing in the world; I am part of something bigger.”

Coming out can be the key to finding people who share similar experiences. Mutual support in the LGBT community can be a powerful bridge between individuals trying to find their place in society.

“I discovered a community where I'm not alone. Where my stories are not an exotic addition, but part of the colorful canvas of our diverse family.”

Being open with identity is an educational act. Every coming out helps dispel myths and spread awareness about the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities

"When I can be proud of who I am, it's not just for me. It is also for those who may not have understood that I am as ordinary and complex a person as anyone else.'

Coming out is often associated with the possibility of encountering some forms of stigmatization and discrimination. This reality can bring a psychological burden to an individual's life, which is important to actively address. Confronting the prejudices and negative reactions of the environment can put an individual in a difficult position, where he has to deal not only with his own identity, but also with the expectations and reactions of others.

Such situations can create emotional tension and lead to various manifestations of mental stress. It is important to be aware that an individual may be struggling with this and seek support and strategies to effectively deal with these challenges. This may include seeking professional psychological help, sharing your feelings with friends or the community, and developing strategies for self-support. At the same time, it can be important for others to be sensitive and supportive, providing a safe and inclusive environment during holiday events and gatherings.

Despite the potential difficulties that coming out can bring, many individuals find strength in openly embracing their identity. Creating a support network and actively managing stigma can be key to maintaining mental well-being in the process of coming to terms with who I really am.

"I travel not only to open doors, but also to challenges. But every day I can be myself is a victory.”

Coping with the challenges of coming out can be much easier with enough support from friends, family and community. This support plays a key role in the adaptation process and gives the individual the strength to face possible stigma and discrimination.

Friends, family and the wider community can provide emotional support, understanding and a safe space to share personal experiences. Acceptance and support from loved ones can create a solid foundation for individual growth and self-acceptance. Open and empathetic communication can help remove isolation and improve overall mental health.

For those looking for specific and targeted support, individual or group therapy can be a useful tool. A therapeutic environment provides a safe and confidential place where one can freely express one's emotions, concerns, and goals. A professional therapist can offer support, advice and tools to manage the stress of coming out.

In addition, group therapy allows you to share experiences with people who are going through similar situations, which creates a sense of shared understanding and solidarity. In this way, individuals can gain perspective and inspiration from others, which can be a powerful factor in supporting their own process.

Overall, support is a key element in the coming out process, providing not only emotional support but also practical tools for managing the challenges associated with openly accepting one's identity.

“Hearing the words 'I'm here for you' was the best therapy for me. Knowing that I am not alone, that I am worthy of love and respect, is something that strengthens me every day.”

Coming out is not only the end of one stage, but the beginning of something new. It is a path that connects individuality and community, creating a more colorful and diverse world for all.

I asked several friends, of different ages, both female and male, from the LGBTQ+ community about what it was like for them to go through coming out…:

"For me, it was a very important moment, because when this bubble of worry and fear burst, it became clear how many other aspects of life and psyche were stuck to this bubble, and by stopping being afraid of myself, I have more time and energy to solve exactly the other things that stuck to it and I no longer feel guilty for being the defective piece. It makes me all the more to support activism, I probably don't have the right to consider myself an activist, I wouldn't pass off shouting on social media as activism. But I'm open about it and I've stopped worrying so much about whether someone will find out I'm queer. It still bothers me a little that I don't always feel comfortable unpacking it right away or being completely free in expressing myself, I'm probably not quite there yet, but I think I'm making progress in this direction. But it's actually a constantly cycling, never-ending, process of eternal self-examination, it's unpleasant, sometimes you're just not in the mood for it." Lukáš, 35 years old (Artist)

"For my life, coming out as a trans person was absolutely essential. And it was the hardest thing for me in my life so far, but it couldn't be avoided, because when I fought it tooth and nail, I gave myself psychosomatic epilepsy. I don't wish the gut wrenching feeling of losing everything you have. But it was my urgent need to survive, to let the world know what was happening to me and how I was feeling. And then it was necessary to rearrange many things in my life and those of my loved ones. In a way, it affects the people around me, so in this case I took coming out as a guide for others to know how I feel and what I need. But in terms of orientation, I will never do anything like an "official" coming out to anyone, because firstly, it's purely my private matter and secondly, I never have to "confess" to the one I love. That's why I consider coming out in this context as something I don't want and won't do. And I don't mean that I don't mind that someone knows I'm bisexual, but I will never come to anyone to tell them." Sebastian, 18 years old (Student)

"The most important moment for me was my inner coming out. It was a special "aha moment" during which all sorts of moments, feelings and situations from my entire life so far came together and I suddenly experienced a huge sense of relief and understanding of myself. Although this moment was short, it was very positive and essential for my next steps in life, also from the point of view of coming to terms with the past. It opened the door for me to live a more authentic life. As for external coming out, I follow the motto: "People don't come out - they let you in". I've never made a big public statement about being queer, nor do I plan to. I just internally thought about which people I feel good and safe with, and therefore I want to share this important part of me with them. With people where I didn't have feelings of trust, I didn't consider it important to tell them anything. At the same time, I considered whether I wanted to have them in my life. I personally consider the process of coming out as a normal part of a conversation, when, for example, we talk with friends about what our free time was like or what activities I am engaged in, but I certainly do not think that a person should share this information with his immediate or even distant surroundings however he owes or has to do the coming out at any cost. Each person has his own path and knows internally what he needs, what he wants to do and what he doesn't want to do. And when you have support in someone during this life journey, everything goes much easier." Josefína, 30 years old (Social worker)

"It depends. At home a lot, it was essential for me to get rid of that feeling of uncertainty and maybe even fear. I didn't want it to ever happen to me again that I would throw the boy out at two in the morning because I was afraid that ours would come early the next morning and what they would say about it. I never did a public coming out, I just started dating guys". Dominik, 26 years old (Event creator)

"An intense, often painful life chapter that opened the possibility for me to start working on self-acceptance and taught me to be the authentic man I hope to be :-)….many doors really opened. Adam, 35 years old - (Therapist, Social pedagogue)."

These stories, for me, of courageous people who decided to open the door to their true identity, can be an inspiration to anyone who is looking for the courage to take such a step.

Coming out is not just an act of revealing personal identity, but rather a powerful act of self-love and authenticity. Opening up to the world in its true form is not only an expression, but also a guarantee of one's freedom. Anyone who decides to step in this direction not only sets an example of courage, but also opens the way to a deeper and more authentic life. Mental health, personal growth and creating real connections with the environment are indisputable benefits of coming out. It is a path that can transform not only the individual, but also the dynamics of society towards diversity. Every coming out story is a call to respect ourselves, no matter what stage of life we are at. It encourages us to be authentic and open and shows us how important it is to be supportive of ourselves and others.

In conclusion, we are asked the question: How can we support and celebrate each coming out, and thus each unique and unstoppable step towards inner freedom?

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