Recognizing your own sexual identity and working toward self-acceptance are the first steps in coming out. First, concerning sexual identity, it helps to think of a sexual orientation continuum that ranges from exclusive same sex attraction to exclusive opposite sex attraction. Exploring your sexual identity may include determining where you presently fit along that continuum.
If you determine you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning (LGBTQQ), and decide to come out, understand that the “coming out” process is very personal. This process happens in different ways and occurs at different ages for different people. Some people are aware of their sexual identity at an early age; others arrive at this awareness only after many years. Coming out is a continuing, sometimes lifelong, process.
We live in a society that strongly enforces codes of behavior regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Many authorities give the message, particularly to young people, that they must be heterosexual and act according to society’s definition of their gender. One prescription simply doesn’t fit for all people in our society.
Virtually everyone is exposed to hate terms and negative remarks about gender and sexually under represented groups. Too many LGBTQQ people, particularly youth, are verbal, physically, and/or sexually harassed. This can lead to feelings of isolation, fear, depression, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide. These feeling left unaddressed can contribute to increased difficulty with self-acceptance, internalized homophobia, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, body image and eating disorders, addictions, and other psychological difficulties.
Counseling Services is a resource for students who are struggling with issues relating to their sexual Orientation and Gender Issues. We encourage you to make an appointment with a counselor if you could use a listening ear and support. Therapy offers individuals a safe and confidential place to talk about personal concerns in an accepting and nonjudgmental environment. www.uwrf.edu/counseling
Adapted from UW – La Crosse Counseling and Testing Center
GLSEN - Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
PRIDE Instutute Webinars - A resource for professionals who work with the LGBT community
Macalester College: LGBTQQ Resources
Virtual Pamphlet Collection (topics compiled from top college counseling centers)
Page updated August 2012 by Mark Huttemier, MA, LPC. Personal Counselor in Student Health and Counseling at University of Wisconsin – River Falls