Sharing your authentic self is not always safe or easy.
'Coming out' is a term used to describe when someone chooses to share their LGBTQIA+ identity with others. Today, October 11, allows us time to reflect and recognise that coming out is a unique experience for every LGBTQIA+ person. It gives us all a bit of space to think about how we can be supportive.
For some, coming out can be a positive experience, but it can also be difficult and unsafe. In most cases, LGBTQIA+ people will have to come out several times, to family, friends, co-workers and so on, so it often takes a lot of courage in order to do so.
AKT found 77% of the young people they support cited family rejection and abuse after coming out or being outed as the primary reason for their homelessness. In their Youth Homelessness Report, they also found that of young LGBTQIA+ people:
- Only 13% felt supported by their parents/step-parents while homeless
- 61% felt frightened or threatened by family members before they became homeless.
- 16% were forced to engage in non-consensual sexual acts by family members before becoming homeless.
Coming can lead to homelessness in many ways, and there are often barriers to support that LGBTQIA+ people face when accessing help. For example, 30% of people experiencing homelessness did not disclose their sexual orientation, according to English statistics.
It can be scary to come out to support services, as discussing your sexuality may not be something a LGBTQIA+ person is comfortable doing due to fears of safety and judgement.
What can we do?
It is always best practice to ensure we are being inclusive to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Coming out can be a sensitive process, so we encourage homelessness staff to be familiar with the following resources to ensure that you are aware of ways your service can be more inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community:
At Homeless Link...
We have a strong commitment to EDI as set out in our EDI strategy, and thrive to be truly equitable, diverse and inclusive. We have a Dignity at Work policy that commits to treating our staff with dignity and respect, and a lack of tolerance to bullying and harassment.
We are also proud to have an LGBTQIA+ resonance group where staff who identify as LGBTQIA+ can meet, talk and build community within an informal space. Members of the group are able to feel and be supported by one another, creating a sense of belonging and allowing them to share experiences, if they choose to do so.