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Identity Understanding Coming Out Embracing LGBTQIA+ | Chrysalis Mama

July 24, 20234 min read


Coming out is not a single, one-time event but a complex process that unfolds over time. - Heather Hester

Coming out of the closet, a phrase often heard but seldom understood in its entirety. What does it mean? Who does it involve? And how can we, as a society - as parents, friends, co-workers, and employers - offer our support during this critical process? Today, we delve into the intricate and very personal journey of coming out in the LGBTQIA+ community, offering a hand of understanding and support to those embarking on this path.

Understanding the Coming Out Journey

What Does ‘Coming Out’ Mean?

Coming out of the closet, or simply coming out, is a term used in the LGBTQIA+ community to describe the process of self-disclosure of one's sexual orientation or gender identity. It is an intensely personal and transformative journey that involves self-acceptance, self-expression, and, often, a great deal of courage.

Coming Out: A Multi-Stage Process

Coming out is not a single, one-time event but a complex process that unfolds over time. Understanding the stages of coming out can help us empathize with individuals navigating this journey.

In 1979, clinical psychologist and sex therapist Vivienne Cass stunned the mental health community with her discovery that sexual orientation and gender identity are not mental health issues but rather developmental stages and therefore should be removed from the DSM5 as a mental health diagnosis. Based on her vast research she developed the Cass Identity Model which describes the six stages one experiences when coming out as LGBTQIA+.

Confusion: The individual becomes aware that their sexual orientation and/or gender identity may not line up with what society considers cisgender and heteronormative. As they deny what they are realizing, many thoughts, feelings, and physical reactions create confusion and general emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual instability for them.

Comparison: The denial and avoidance from stage one rolls right into stage two. In this stage the individual feels out of place, perhaps even hiding their true self to avoid judgment or external cruelty. They compare what they are feeling on the inside to what they see as others' experiences on the outside.

Tolerance: The individual acknowledges their feelings and attractions that might not align with societal expectations. They may grapple with internal conflict and confusion during this stage.

Acceptance: In this stage, individuals accept their sexual orientation or gender identity as a part of their identity. They begin to feel more comfortable in their skin.

Pride: This is the stage where individuals start sharing their identity with others. It can start with a close friend or family member and gradually expand to include others.

Synthesis: Here, the individual is comfortable enough to openly identify as LGBTQIA+ in more public settings.

Each stage comes with its own set of emotions and challenges, highlighting the importance of understanding and support from their environment.

Support During the Coming Out Process

A supportive network plays a vital role during the coming out process. So how can we offer our support?

Listen: Allow them to share their experiences without interruption or judgment. This can offer them a safe space to express their feelings.

Empathize: Understand that they might be experiencing a range of emotions. Show empathy rather than sympathy.

Respect their Pace: Remember, it's their journey and they have the right to navigate it at their own pace. Avoid rushing them into any stage.

Educate Yourself: Learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community, their struggles, rights, and terminologies. This can help you offer more informed and sensitive support. Check out and to learn more about struggles and rights. Click here to access my Language of LGBTQIA+ ebook.

The Danger Around Coming Out

Unfortunately, not everyone experiences a safe and supportive environment when coming out. Discrimination, rejection, and even violence can be a harsh reality for many. It's crucial to acknowledge these dangers and work towards creating a more accepting and inclusive society.

Coming out is a deeply personal and transformative process for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community. It's a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and expression that requires courage, patience, and resilience. As allies, our role is to extend our unwavering support, understanding, and respect, fostering an environment that not only accepts but celebrates diversity. Through empathy and education, we can contribute to making the coming out journey less daunting and more empowering for every individual in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Heather Hester

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Heather was a passionate and informed speaker on the topic of LGBTQ2S parenting. Heather shares her personal and professional experience through family storytelling and is able to connect to the audience in this candid way. Heather provided thoughtful and supportive feedback to parents’ questions and employees shared positive feedback after her informative session.

~Kallie Jackson, CN PRIDE ERG Co-Chair

Canadian National Railways

I am very happy to know that Heather is available to serve as a resource for parents of LGBTQ+ kids, and really to any parents at all. Everyone talks about being "inclusive", but Heather lives it. Heather is able to accept whatever comes her way and use the power of unconditional love and kindness to turn challenges into gifts. We can all learn a lot from Heather.

~Adam Simon, Executive Director

Odyssey Teen Camp

Heather was the calming voice in a world that was otherwise in upheaval. Heather was there to pick me up (although she didn't know it) and she was the best friend in my head helping me process and get through some difficult stuff. I loved that she gave ME permission to process and mourn my story now that it was being rewritten...Heather gave me the time I needed to get to the next step. Heather didn't judge me. I would download a podcast every morning and listen to ther during my walk. Her voice fixed it for me. Her voice soothed my heartache. Her voice helped me get to the next step of processing and her voice helped me move on. Heather helped me have difficult conversations that were based in kindness. She helped me to breathe. And I love her for that.

~Anonymous and thankful

I was searching for resources to be the best supportive mom I could be to my pre-teen (now teen) and found this amazing podcast! It was just what I needed! I knew I needed some guidance from a parent who had experience through a similar journey and Heather was there with perfect content and even talked with me personally through email. The community Heather has built through this podcast and Facebook page has given me the confidence to not be fearful through this journey but rather to embrace it and encourage my teen to be their authentic self!

~ Lauren Bo21

Heather is real, relatable, thoughtful, educated, and inclusive of every teen parent scenario in her talks. I love being able to hear first hand from someone who has gone through the “Valley of Darkness” and come out the other side a better person, informed, and able to help others right where they are.

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Your centered, calming voice and demeanor help me to feel more peaceful. I experience you as therapeutic & your journey gives me more hope that we can love [our son] well. Thank you for giving your life away to me through sharing your story and the guests you interview.

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I love your raw, real vulnerability. I am brand new on this journey and stumbled accidentally across your podcast on a road trip. I listened for 8 hours of driving and didn’t want to get to my destination because I wanted more. Using your own journey to help and support other parents is so brave and I am grateful to you and your family. Connor is so fortunate to have you ❤️

~ Anonymous




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