A Coming Out Week Message To Those Who Are Closeted

A Coming Out Week Message To Those Who Are Closeted

National Coming Out Week (NCOW) is from October 7th to October 12th this year, but what if you can't come out or don't want to?

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It's very easy for LGBT+ people to feel pressured into coming out, whether it be by society or by themselves. I know that I have tried to force myself to come out when I wasn't ready because I felt as if staying in the closet meant that I was not proud, or that I was a bad lesbian.

Neither of those things is true. It's perfectly okay to remain in the closet, especially if your safety would be compromised for coming out. Even if you just don't want to or you're not ready, that's okay, too!

Still, if you choose not to come out, that can make life difficult for you, and you may be wondering how to cope. You may want to date someone of your same gender, but you're still living life as a heterosexual person. You may have to pretend to be a gender that you're not. It hurts, but there are ways to make it easier.

Perhaps you can find one or two safe spaces where you CAN be yourself. Maybe there's an LGBT+ group at your school or in your community. You might be the type to find comfort in fiction; if that is the case, then you can consume media that has LGBT+ characters in it. Even something as simple as running a Pride account on Instagram can help you to feel more at peace.

There may even be a way for you to go to Pride if you're closeted! You could pretend to be going as an ally, or pretend to go to something else entirely if someone asks.

Maybe you can even try to present yourself in the way that you desire if you're transgender and/or gender non-conforming! For example, if you're a closeted trans guy, you could pretend that you'd like a shorter haircut and masculine clothes in order to look like a masculine actress or fictional character. Similarly, you can try wearing subtle rainbow color schemes, or other colors that may match your pride flag.

Most straight people would think nothing of a person who wears pink, purple, and blue; whereas someone who is bi would know the real meaning behind those colors. There are other ways to take care of yourself as well, ones that aren't even related to your identity. Try to find a hobby or interest that could serve as a distraction.

If you do decide to come out, whether it be this week or any other point in time, that is amazing. If you're already out, that is also amazing. But it's equally okay to not be out for any reason. You're still a treasured part of the LGBT+ community, and you will be able to be your authentic self one day.

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9 Queer Pride Flags That You Probably Didn't Know About

The rainbow flag is certainly the most recognizable, but it isn't the only Pride Flag there is.
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It's Pride Month yet again and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are celebrating. Normally around this time of year, we expect to see that all-too-familiar rainbow colored flag waving through the air, hanging from windows and sported on clothing of all types. Even when not strictly a flag, the colors of the rainbow are often displayed when showing support of the larger queer community. But what many people do not realize is that there are many, many pride flags for orientations of all kinds, so Natasha and I (Alana Stern) have created this handy guide to some others that you may not yet be familiar with:

1. L is for Lesbian and G is for Gay

The most recognizable letters of the entire acronym, L (Lesbian) and G (Gay), represent the homosexual people of the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is defined as being exclusively sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Again, although the rainbow Pride flag is easily the most iconic and recognizable, there is a Lesbian Pride Flag as well. Specifically for "Lipstick Lesbians," this flag was made to represent homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression. Here are the Lesbian Pride Flag (left) and Gay Pride Flag with the meaning of each stripe (right).



2. B is for Bisexual

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic and/or sexual attraction towards both males and females. They often go unacknowledged by people who believe that they cannot possibly feel an attraction for both sexes and have been called greedy or shamed in many ways for being who they are, but not this month. This month we recognize everyone and their right to love. Here is the flag and symbol that represents the big B!


3. T is for Transgender (Umbrella)

Gender identities are just as diverse as sexual orientations. Transgender people are people whose gender does not necessarily fall in line with their biological sex. That is to say, someone who is born male may not feel that calling oneself a man is the best way to describe who they are as a person; the same can go for someone who is born female or intersex (we'll get to that in a bit). Someone born female may feel that they prefer to be referred to as a man. Someone born male may feel that they don't mind being referred to as either a man or a woman. And someone may feel that neither term really fits. Identities can range from having no gender, to multiple genders, to having a gender that falls outside of the typical gender binary of man/woman, to anything in between. The colors of the flag are blue (the traditional color for boys), pink (the traditional color for girls) and white (to represent those who are intersex, transitioning, or have a gender that is undefined).


Okay! Here's where we get into the lesser-known letters of the acronym. You may have heard of some of these before but didn't quite know what they meant or how they fit into the larger queer community, or you may not have heard of them at all. Either way, we'll do our best to explain them!

4. I is for Intersex

Intersex people are people who are have a mix of characteristics (whether sexual, physical, strictly genetic or some combination thereof) that would classify them as both a male and a female. This can include but is not limited to having both XX and XY chromosomes, having neither, being born with genitalia that does not fit within the usual guidelines for determining sex and appearing as one sex on the outside but another internally. It is possible for intersex people to display the characteristics from birth, but many can go years without realizing it until examining themselves further later in life. Here is an older version of the intersex flag which utilizes purple, white, blue and pink (left) and a more recent one that puts an emphasis on more gender-neutral colors, purple and yellow (right).


5. A is for Aro-Ace Spectrum

The A in the acronym is usually only defined as Asexual, which is a term used to describe people who experience a lack of sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or otherwise. People who are asexual can still engage in healthy romantic relationships, they just don't always feel the need or have the desire to have sex and are not physically attracted to other people. If that's confusing, think of it this way: you are attracted women, but not men. You may see a man and think, "He's kind of cute" or "That's a pretty good-looking guy," but you still would not feel any desire towards that person, because that's not what you're into. Asexual people generally feel that way about everyone. That's the "Ace" half of "Aro-Ace."

"Aro," or Aromantic, is a term used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people still have healthy platonic relationships, but have no inclination towards romantic love. The reason Asexual and Aromantic are together is because they are very heavily entwined and oftentimes can overlap. Underneath that spectrum are also other variations of asexuality (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are asexual but experience sexual attraction in very rare circumstances, or only after they have a romantic connection) and aromanticism (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are aromantic but experience romantic attraction in very rare circumstances).

Below are two versions of the Aromantic Pride Flag (top and middle) and the Asexual Pride Flag (bottom).





6. P and O are for Panseuxal and Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual people are not limited by gender preferences. They are capable of loving someone for who they are and being sexually attracted to people despite what gender their partner identifies as. The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix "pan-", meaning all. Pansexuals or Omnisexuals will probably settle for whoever wins their heart regardless of that persons gender.


7. But what about the Q?!

The Q can be said to stand for Queer or Questioning, or both. "Queer" is more of a blanket term for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community or who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender (a term that has come to describe people who feel that their gender does fall in line with their biological sex; i.e. someone born male feels that he is a man). It is also possible for someone to identify as queer, but avoid using it to refer to specific people unless you know they are okay with it; some people still consider it insulting. Questioning means exactly what it sounds like: it gives a nod to those who are unsure about their sexuality and/or gender identity or who are currently in the process of exploring it.

There's no one flag specifically for the letter Q, as all of the above sexualities and identities technically fall underneath this term.


This list is hardly comprehensive and there are a number of other flags, orientations and identities to explore. Pride Month is still going strong, and there's always more to learn about the ever-changing nature of sexuality as a whole and the way we understand it. It's a time for celebration, but also a time to educate and spread the word.

For a more in-depth description of different types of attraction and how they work, click here.

For more complete lists of gender identities throughout history, click here or here.

For a general list of commonly used words in the LGBTQ+ community and their definitions, click here.


Now go grab a flag and fly it high--you've got a ton to choose from!

Cover Image Credit: 6rang

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I Went To My First Pride Event And It Was The Most Amazing Things I've Experienced

Being loving and accepting to others is the only way to make the world better.

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My school hosted its very first Pride event for the LQBTQ+ students a few days ago. It promised live drag entertainment, free food and a whole lot of other things. My attention was caught immediately when I heard about it because I'm the biggest drag fan you could ever find, and I had always wanted to see it performed live.

So, I went to the event and it was the best decision I've made in a really long time.

It was really beautiful to be surrounded by people who were just happy to be themselves and happy that they were able to celebrate it in our community. I saw a lot of gay people and allies who were just happy to be out in the sun, eating hot dogs and dancing to music. No one was judging or doing anything to make others uncomfortable. In fact, everyone who was at the event did their best to spread as much love and happiness as they could, and this is what made the day the best for me.
It was so satisfying to see my friends (that were usually closeted around others) being so free and proud of who they are. I went to the event and came back realizing that there are people around us that are different than who we are, different from what we are comfortable with, but that does not mean that they should be disrespected.

Being more accepting and loving to others is the only way to make the world better.

Pride also taught me that letting others feel comfortable enough to let their guards down and be their truest selves is really the most satisfying thing. Love and acceptance is the only way to make the world better and pride showed me this. From my experience at this first pride event, I know this will definitely not be my last time going. The LGBTQ+ community will be seeing more of me, and I can't wait to be able to show this community how much I love and support each of them.

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