In the past decade, much has been reported about celebrities coming out of the closet, revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity. “Coming out,” or publicly expressing sexual orientation, is an important moment in a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person’s life. Since society still places stigma on these demographics to varying degrees, coming out is a way of gaining freedom and finding like-minded individuals for different kinds of safety.
There is also a debate over the risks of bullying (which can hurt self-esteem) versus the benefits of coming out. A recent study found teenagers who came out in high school had better self-esteem despite the opposition.
“Until now, a key question about balancing the need to protect LGBT youth from harm while promoting their well-being has not been addressed: Do the benefits of coming out at school outweigh the increased risk of victimization? Our study points to the positive role of coming out for youth and young adult well-being,” said Stephen Russell, University of Arizona researcher and study lead.
The survey was conducted with 245 Latino and white young adults between the ages of 21-25. They reported harassment in high school whether they were openly gay or not. Nevertheless, those who revealed their sexual orientation or gender identity experienced higher self-esteem and life satisfaction compared to those that did not. The results were consistent across genders and ethnicities.
Not only is coming out important for emotional safety, but physical safety as well. Those who feel disenfranchised are less likely to seek out adequate physical and mental health care. This is why it’s important to study and report about all sexual orientations, gender identities, races, economic backgrounds and other demographics.
“We know from our other studies that requiring LGBT adolescents to keep their LGBT identities secret or not to talk about them is associated with depression, suicidal behavior, illegal drug use and risk for HIV. And helping them learn about and disclose their LGBT identity to others helps protect against risk and helps promote self-esteem and overall health,” said Caitlin Ryan, study co-author.
The mental health professionals of Sovereign Health Group in Fort Myers, Fla. know the dangers facing LGBT people who just want to live freely and safely. Those with varying sexual orientations and gender identities face higher risks of depression, anxiety, drug abuse and other life difficulties compared to the general population. Therapy exists to combat these dangers. Live admissions specialists are available at 866-269-2493.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, a Sovereign Health Group writer
Sovereign Health Group is a leading addiction, dual diagnosis and mental health treatment provider. Call our admissions team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get the help you deserve.