There’s a Dark Side to Coming Out

National Coming Out Day is on October 11, 2019. PantherNOW talked to FIU students and Connie Viamonte, an FIU professor of sociology, on why they are critical of the action of 'coming out.' Photo courtesy of FIU Flickr.

Nayeli Lomeli/Staff Writer

For the LGBTQ community, National Coming Out Day, which is on Oct. 11, promotes a safe world for individuals to live truthfully and openly. For sociologists, coming out has a different meaning.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, coming out is a daily journey for individuals and it is a unique experience for each person.

Connie Viamonte, an FIU professor that teaches Sociology of Gender and Sexuality, says that coming out is a rite of passage that society makes people go through.

“As a country we need to get over having a coming out. We need to move past this rite of passage and instead just accept who people are, in general,” she said.

There is a problem in how society often makes the sexuality of individuals everyone’s business, said Viamonte.

“Although coming out is a very powerful experience for people who are in the LGBTQ community, as a society we can be a little more progressive and eliminate the need for people to come out,” she said.

Viamonte believes that people need to understand that labeling is unnecessary, but she realizes it’s going to be a hard jump for academia and the world to resist putting labels on people.

“I think academia has a real problem because we tend to see things the way that we have been socialized and brought up. So, even in that way, we are stuck in this view of the world that we have,” she said.

According to Viamonte, the only reason we feel that individuals need to come out is because society cannot accept anything that deviates from the norm.

William Abreu, the media director of the student-led Sexual Health Alliance at FIU, agrees.

“I wish that coming out wasn’t necessary because it makes you feel like you owe it to others to know your sexuality when you really don’t,” Abreu said.

The history of National Coming Out Day began more than three decades ago, when half a million people participated in a march in Washington for lesbian and gay rights. Today, individuals continue to view this day as a milestone.

“It’s a celebration of all of us, whether we have made the big step of coming out or not,” said Abreu.

Viamonte says that coming out may cause psychological harm for individuals who live in a conservative area or home- where they could be stigmatized.

“To even have the conversation about coming out is harmful in terms of making people feel as if they are different or as if something is wrong with them,” she said.

Amelia Leon, president of the FIU Simple Pleasures Club, says that coming out on an individual level can either be an empowering experience or a scarring one. She says that the harm of coming out depends on who you are and how you come out.

“If you’re coming out to people who don’t support you, not only can it lead to severe self-hatred, but also to serious repercussions like homelessness, unemployment, and physical or sexual abuse,” Leon said.

Viamonte says that having a visible event that recognizes people that are different on a national scale is a big part of personal growth.

“It’s just like seeing yourself on film; if you see a representation of who you are on film or popular culture, then you feel better about who you are,” she said.

Leon says that if someone you care about comes out to you, it’s important to do your own research, listen and be patient.

“We already have it hard enough in a society that sees us as different,” Leon said.

1 Comment on "There’s a Dark Side to Coming Out"

  1. Kassandra Mattar | October 23, 2019 at 9:03 PM | Reply

    Nice article! :) It hit home when it connected the reader to their own experience and when discussing homelessness for me… I fear big things like that! I appreciate this being brought out into the light! Thank you! <3

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