Hannah Michelle Bussa
Dr. Jay Irwin, Associate Professor of Sociology at UNO, explained the process of coming out.
“Coming out, to both one’s self and to others, is a deeply personal journey with potential social implications,” Irwin said. “There is no template, and there are many individual factors to consider before taking the brave step to come out.”
UNO has resources available for students in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and Queer and Trans Services. There are three student support groups.
“LezBi, a group for all LGBTQIA+ and questioning students, Melanated Queerations, a group specifically for people of color who are LGBTQIA+, and TRANScend, a group specifically for transgender and gender expansive students,” Irwin said. “There’s also support available from our great providers in the Counseling and Psychological Services. Counseling isn’t a required step of coming out, but it can often be really helpful to think through the possible scenarios of coming out.”
UNO also offers a minor in LGBTQ/Sexuality studies. Braeden Krall, a UNO student who identifies as queer and genderqueer, is in this program.
“UNO is actually a pretty queer-friendly campus,” they said. “Being in the Sociology program here at UNO has also felt empowering as several of the faculty are members of the LGBTQ+ community themselves or are strong allies. I feel supported for the most part at this campus, at least within my program.”
“It is important to come out because being you in public openly is letting others know it is okay, and you never know who is watching or what people are struggling with,” Owen Rush, another UNO student, said.
Irwin said: “The importance of being out is also deeply personal. Everyone must be comfortable with what’s right for them. I personally find a lot of affirmation in being out as a trans man, but I also have a great job, colleagues, friends and family to draw support from when being out causes uncomfortable scrutiny or questions about my personal life. Not everyone has the privilege of having a PhD, a supportive job, family, etc. So, it is my approach that everyone is likely doing their best. Comparing coming out experiences from person to person may not be helpful, as there are potentially unique factors that will vary based on both your own personal background and the identities that you have (both sexuality/gender as well as race, social class, etc.).”
Rush gave some advice for students considering coming out.
“Make sure you are comfortable with yourself and know yourself,” Rush said. “No time is ever perfect but trust yourself. There are people who will love you regardless.”
Krall gave some advice as well: “Make sure that you’re in a safe place to come out, because personal safety is most important. Continually surround yourself with people you know will support you 100%, no matter what, because there will be hard days sometimes. Coming out is incredibly freeing though and yes, it’s terrifying to come out, but living life authentically has drastically improved my mental health, my personal relationships, and my self-esteem. There will always be haters, but there are always more people that will love and support you no matter what. Not everyone feels the need to have a big coming out story. But even if you don’t choose to come out specifically, I think what’s most important still is living 100% authentically and confidently in the person that you are.”
If you are struggling with your identity and need support, help is available. Outside of UNO’s resources, you can also contact the Trevor Project by texting START to 678678.