11 October 1987, hundreds and thousands organised the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, on the national Mall below the U.S. Capitol. In a period where HIV and AIDS were still tearing communities asunder, the march was led by about 3,000 people with AIDS, some in wheelchairs, others in chartered buses.

According to the American Psychological Association, Richard Eichberg, a psychologist, and Jean O’Leary, a gay rights activist, founded the National Coming Out day in 1988 and the date “October 11” was selected because it marked the second anniversary of the National March.

In Mauritius, in 2022, “Coming Out” remains a challenge for a great number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) people.

While LGBTQI people are generally open to their friends (88.1%) and their siblings (62.8%), fewer are open to their co-workers (42.7%), their parents and other adult relatives (41.7%) and society in general (27.1%) and of those LGBTQI persons who are living with their parents, only 29.8% are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression to their parents and other adult relatives (YQA, 2022).

This situation creates challenges for LGBTQI people, who, in most of the cases, live with their parents (81.2%).

In these situations, LGBTQI persons cannot fully be themselves with their families, and face human rights violations such as rights to privacy, life in dignity and love. This situation further adds to the mental and emotional challenges that LGBTQI people face.

In fact some 61.6% of LGBTQI people living with their parents report facing mental health issues such as anxiety or depression (YQA, 2022).

Recognising the challenges of LGBTQI people in deciding whether to do their “Coming Out” or for families to better accompany any of their LGBTQI family member in their “Coming Out” process, the Young Queer Alliance has devised a guide (How to do my Coming Out?) for LGBTQI persons and their family members with information and advice on “Coming Out”.

The guide has been developed through funding from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives as part of the “Creating safe communities, safe homes, safe enterprises for LGBTQ people to be free through community empowerment and mindset changes”.

The guide supports LGBTQI people and their family members in understanding what is meant by “Coming Out”, that it is okay for someone to be LGBTQI and how one should decide whether to do their “Coming Out”.

The guide also contains a few helpful phrases which can help one getting started with their loved ones for their “Coming Out” and in understanding the reaction of others during their “Coming Out” process.

For family members, the guide provides advice on how they can support a LGBTQI family member during their “Coming Out”.

While many people have positive experiences of “Coming Out”, in other cases, some LGBTQI people may have their safety compromised or be threatened by their family members or kicked from home. The guide also provides useful tips on resources to support LGBTQI people in these situations.

Fokeerbux N.A.
Young Queer Alliance

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