CHARLOTTE — A common term for someone who acknowledges being LGBTQ+ is “coming out.”
Advocates are encouraging rethinking the phrase. Instead, they suggest using “inviting in.”
“I am a social justice advocate, a law student, and a clarinetist,” says Dev Green, who identifies as non-binary transgender and queer.
“I really enjoy being social, I enjoy getting to know people,” they told Channel 9′s Erika Jackson.
“At the end of my eighth-grade year going into ninth grade, I just started noticing that I was pretty miserable and I wasn’t sure why,” Green said. “People noticed that I wasn’t myself, that I was moving slower.”
“It wasn’t until I was in my school’s gender and sexuality alliance that I gained the language to explain why I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin,” they said. “I distinctly remember that we had a non-binary person come to our gender and sexuality alliance. When I met this person, I felt like I could relate to someone.”
“My parents are Jamaican, and in Jamaica, these kinds of dialogues don’t happen. So when I came out to them, there was a lot of apprehension and fear,” Green said.
Mollie Burkholder, they/them, is with PFLAG in Charlotte.
“We have parents who come to us saying, ‘I think my kid might be somewhere in the LGBTQ community, but they’re not ready to come out to me yet; how do I make sure that they feel comfortable?’” Burkholder told Jackson.
“It’s really important to let people tell you who they are on their terms and on their timeline,” they said. “The small gestures that take a minimal amount of effort on the part of allies really go a long way to signal to folks in your life that you are a safe space. It can look like suggesting that you watch a TV show that you know has positive LGBTQ representation, putting a rainbow pin or pride flag pin on your ID badge, or adding your pronouns to your email signature.”
“Ally isn’t a label that you get to give yourself; it’s one that is earned.”
Green says they’re very fortunate that most of their life has been marked by acceptance.
“There wasn’t a single person at school that I could remember that was anything less than supportive,” Green said. “I heard the phrase a lot growing up that it gets better. I think when I kept hearing the phrase ... I don’t know if I believe it. I think it’s important for people to know that there is a life where they can be happy and be resilient and be all of who they are.”
PFLAG is for parents, families, friends and allies of people who are LGBTQ+ aimed at education, advocacy, and support for an equitable future.
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