On Coming Out Day: A Sprinkle of Sparkle
by Ayasha Cantey
On Oct. 12, Sacred Heart University’s Multicultural Center held an event to honor and celebrate National Coming Out Day. Guest speaker Brian Coleman shared his experience as a Black, gay, cisgender man.
Growing up, Brian always felt like he was “different.” But, like many other kids, he couldn’t exactly figure out what that “different” was. It wasn’t until around sixth grade when Brian was exposed to the idea of being gay. He was reading a magazine article written by a married woman who had just discovered her husband was cheating on her with another man. Brian was confused and struggled to wrap his head around his feelings. He didn’t have resources in school or anyone he felt he could turn to for help. So for years, he struggled with this alone.
As Brian grew, so did his understanding of his sexuality. But he was still ashamed. He expressed this strong sense of internalized homophobia. He wanted to hide and suppress who he really was. He felt like he was going to disappoint his family and people around him because being gay wasn’t something that was talked about openly. And it definitely wasn’t what he was raised to believe was okay.
His internalized emotions soon turned into depression and suicidal thoughts. It became so bad that his mother decided to get intensive hospitalization to help him. The first person he officially came out to was someone on his treatment team. They had an idea that he was struggling with his sexual orientation. So, after a worker came out to him, he felt comfortable enough to confide in them. After Brian was released from the hospital, he came out to his mother. His mother was genuinely supportive of her son’s sexuality.
Years later, Brian became a social worker in Illinois. He now identifies as a “Unicorn,” a term he started using during an interview when asked why he was different from other candidates. The term is thought of as a way of owning and embracing your trauma. It also expresses the unique perspectives and skills he was able to bring to the table that he felt other candidates did not have. Brian said, “No one could do us, live us, be us or tell our truth like us.”
Brian is still a counselor in Illinois. He is also a motivational speaker in his free time. Brian has been recognized for many awards and accomplishments, some of which are the 2019 National School Counselor of the Year, 2019 College of Education Alumni of the Year, 2019 Human Rights Award and 2018 Illinois High School Counselor of the Year.
They Don’t Know
by Jillian Reis
I know a girl who is ace
Her mom accepted her
But “One day you’ll like sex,
You just have to grow up”
I know a guy who is bi
His dad accepted him
But “You just haven’t met
The right girl yet”
I know a person who is pan
Their parents accept them
But “If you’re gay you should
Just tell me so I can come to terms with it”
We live in a society of acceptance
But there is always a caveat
And there is always something to be said
About those who don’t know what acceptance really is