When it comes to the LGBTQIA community, one of the worst things you can do is to out them to members of the public, family or friends.
For those who don’t understand, and particularly those who want to learn to be supportive allies, revealing that someone is gay, lesbian, transgender or queer not only robs them of the narrative and right to tell their own stories in their own personal way, but it often endangers lives.
There are many countries where being gay, lesbian, transgender or identifying as queer is unfortunately still considered a crime.
And while many of those who are still closeted would like to come out, risking their lives and facing hate and discrimination are just a few of the many reasons why those who identify under the LGBTQIA umbrella are terrified of coming out.
Orange is the New Black Star Samira Wiley recently confessed that she was devastated when she found out that a fellow cast member had outed her to the world.
According to Teen Vogue, the actress revealed that she wasn’t actually out during the first season of the show, which is why she cried a lot when she first saw the article in which her name was mentioned.
A cast member had done an interview where the gay actors on the show were discussed. Her name came up and was included in the piece.
Nylon.com reveals that processing that moment was a big deal for her and that she felt like she was robbed of having the choice to come out on her own terms.
She says: “Everyone’s journey is their own, you should be able to come out on your own terms.”
And we couldn’t agree more.
Not everyone has family or friends that support them and speaking on behalf of someone else when you’ve never had the permission to do so is disrespectful and shows a lack of understanding of the consequences it could have on someone emotionally, physically and psychologically.
I spoke to a trans woman and friend of mine, Juanita, who confirms that outing people is actively harmful. She also says that it’s one of the primary reasons that so many trans women and trans men are brutally murdered.
When I asked her about her own experiences of being outed, she said it was one of the most painful experiences of her life.
READ MORE: “Yes I’m Gay” – 5 amazing celebrity coming out stories
Here she shares her story:
“The first time I was outed as a transgender woman was on social media, nearly ten years ago.
Facebook was a platform I felt safe to explore my gender identity, and it provided me with an opportunity to connect to other transgender people and to find friends who accepted me.
Having been a loner for most of my life, this was literally the first time in my life I was 100% open and real with people, not hiding behind masks or fake smiles.
I had a childlike innocence and trust in people. Soon I would learn how cruel the world was against transgender people like me.
Just like in real life, you make friends and enemies on Facebook. The people I refer to as enemies were people I trusted with everything about my life who broke my trust.
I once made the mistake on social media to ask "friends" to decide if they wanted me as their friend or if they’d rather be friends with one of the people who broke my trust.
I couldn't see how I could be friends with people who were friends with someone who hated me.
Less than a day after I posted on Facebook asking people to make a choice because they can't be friends with both of us, my enemy, who knew everything about my transgender life, posted my photo online with a link to my profile.
READ MORE: Biphobia – why are women afraid of dating bisexual men?
She accused me of harassing her and being a hacker who was threatening to hack their FB pages.
Within the next few hours the comments of hate, threats and transphobia followed her post by the numbers.
By the end of the evening I had 25 pages of evidence for the police. Despite three attempts to get help from the police, I was forced to out myself to a lawyer friend. She was loving, friendly and compassionate and helped me with legal proceedings.
A week after this nightmare began, it stopped. I think it was because I was getting ready to take legal action. When the nightmare week ended, I also stopped the process of taking legal action.
While the wounds people inflict on you with their words of hate do heal, the deep scars they left will always be with me.
At the time I was "outed", I wasn't out in the real world. My mom didn't know.
My colleagues at work didn't know. I wasn't ready to tell people because I was scared of how they would react. After that event, I wasn't brave enough to come out to anyone at all.
It was only after being diagnosed with Disorder of Sex Development (Intersex) that I first became brave to tell people face to face that I was different.
It is now nearly ten years after I was "outed" and harassed by hundreds of people on Facebook and I struggle with trusting cis people and I am afraid to go out by myself. I only leave my house to go to work, otherwise I never leave the house unless I have someone with me.
I will forever be scared of all the all men that threatened to kill me or beat me up if they ever saw me. “
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