top of page

Coming Out as LGBTQ+ is More Common in Younger Generations



As someone who is LGBTQ+ with a daughter who is as well, I have seen how the community is different for those of us at different ages. People in the younger generations tend to be more open, and more vocal, about being 'out' than those of us in the older generations.


In the mid-90's when I came out, it was just with friends, and not with family. This is because I was in a religious family, and there was less social acceptance as a whole in the past.


Gen-Z and younger, though, are driving a change. According to The Washington Post,

A record 7.1 percent of U.S. adults self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual, and members of Generation Z are driving the growth, according to results from a Gallup survey published Thursday.
The most recent results mark double the percentage of adults who self-identified as LGBTQ in 2012, when Gallup first measured it, and an increase from 2021, when the same survey found that 5.6 percent of Americans identified as LGBTQ.

Over the years, I have noticed that people my age group (Millennials) and the older generations are less likely to be out at work, for example. Many will avoid talking about relationships completely, or just be out with a trusted few. This is in contrast to the younger generations who tend to be more vocally out with everyone.


I believe it can be attributed to the stigma that is attached in our minds to the coming out experience, at a time when society was less open to the LGBTQ+ community. There is still stigma for sure, but it has lessened with time, as can be evidenced by the legalization of gay marriage.


Young people fortunately haven't had to deal with discrimination to the same degree as us older folks did. They don't feel as afraid to talk to their parents and families about their identities as we did years ago.


When my daughter came out as bisexual, I know that she was still apprehensive to do so. She said, "I have to tell you something" and my biggest fear was that she didn't like her new furniture. Her dad was afraid that she was pregnant.


She told me that she was bisexual and had a girlfriend. I told her I was bisexual too. I tried to reassure her that everything was fine, she was loved and accepted no matter what, and then we went to wash up for dinner. We didn't make a big thing out of it.


Still, I am aware that not all parents are as accepting of their LGBTQ+ teens coming out as my daughter's dad and I were. Some of her friends had a huge backlash when they came out, especially those coming out as trans.


I was the mom taking all the kids to their first Pride parade, when their parents thought (as I found out later) they had all gone downtown to go shopping.


It hurts to see kids having to be afraid to be who they are. It hurts to see families lack of acceptance. Some merely tolerate their child's identity, and others ignore or seek to erase it completely.


My daughter had one friend who came out trans, that had his parents still dead-naming him and trying to get him to wear dresses. It sucks to see that kids still have to go through so much trouble at home to be who they are.


Friend groups are much more accepting of the young generations though. They don't have to hide who they are at school or with their peers. Usually if someone comes out it is accepted as pretty normal, and if someone is trans the first questions are if they have a new name or new pronouns.


There isn't a question if they want to date their straight friends, or what their identity means. Young people in general are much more aware of the LGBTQ+ community, and what different identities are. They are much more willing to accept their friends for who they are, instead of trying to fit people into a heteronormative mold.


For us that are older, there was so much more fear among our peers. There was a lack of acceptance. Many of us didn't come out until after high school or college, whereas now kids are coming out in elementary or middle school even. Our kids are much more ok with being themselves at younger ages.


This isn't to say that many of us didn't know that we were 'different' at those ages. It was just that either we didn't have the language to communicate who we were, or that we felt unsafe disclosing our true identities until much later.


It is still a brave act to come out, even now. There is still violence and hate against the LGBTQ+ community. But this new generation isn't living as contemporaries of Stonewall or the Matthew Shepard murder either.


Perhaps our generation has done a better job of being out, of paving the way for young people to feel safe, than did the generations before us. Or, perhaps with each generation that passes fundamentalism fades and acceptance in society widens as we realize more and more that love is love.


I have high hopes for this young generation with their accepting mindset, and the way that they care so much for their LGBTQ+ friends even as straight allies. Their attitudes and their accepting and loving natures hopefully can bring about a future that none of us could have dreamed of in the 90's.


When we were growing up, I don't think we ever thought that gay marriage would be legal, and yet, here it is. Our society is changing for the better. We are becoming more educated, tolerant and accepting. Hopefully future generations will have it easier than we did.


Hopefully one day people will be able to come out and live life as they truly are with no fears at all of violence and retribution.

Comments


bottom of page