Matthew’s Place
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Matthew’s Place

The Struggles and Joys of Coming Out Later in Life

by Judy Bokao

The most challenging part of being an LGBTQ+ is coming out to your family, friends, and colleagues. The process of coming out requires you to have self-acceptance and be psychologically prepared because some people will embrace you regardless of your sexual orientation and gender identity.
Some members of the LGBTQ+ community come out early in their lives while others come out late in life.

Art credit: Wednesday Holmes

Those who come out early in life have the advantage of giving people the time to get used to their sexual orientation, and that is pretty straight forward. However, there can be many complications and confusion for those who come out in life because some are married to people of the opposite sex by the time they are comfortable with the sexual orientation, or kids are involved. This complicates the situation further as there is a divorce involved and child custody to think about, as well.

Below is a list of the struggles and joys of the LGBTQ+ coming out late in life:

Struggles of coming out late as LGBTQ+:

Acceptance

The reason why most LGBTQ+ folks come out late in life is because of a lack of self-acceptance. The process of self-acceptance is filled with questions that are, at times, quite difficult to answer. People also fear coming out because of the lack of acceptance by society.

The unfairness of the justice system

LGBTQ+ folks are often subjected to bullying, rape, violent acts, insults, and when they try to seek justice, it becomes quite a feat to get justice either from the police or the court system. Law enforcement often have an attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community and end up putting them off from getting the justice they need. You will find that most of their cases are postponed again and again until they are dismissed. Thankfully, the Matthew Shepard Foundation works to help police and prosecutors better understand the nuances of the minority communities they serve.

Discrimination

It is no secret that LGBTQ+ people encounter discrimination from all sectors — from health centers, to government facilities, to employment places, housing, and even from the justice system.

Discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community deters members from accessing social services and support for livelihoods. They get discriminated against, too, when it comes to gender equality and jobs. Although activists and international organizations are working to eliminate discrimination, inequality can still be felt when it comes to the queer community’s rights.

Parenting challenges

A good number of LGBTQ+ people face difficulties in parenting, especially those who are looking to adopt. Some countries do not recognize LGBTQ+ people as parents. They also undergo challenges when it comes to explaining their situation to children, particularly if other kids in school are making fun of them.

Joys of Coming Out Late as LGBTQ+:

Productiveness in daily activities

After coming out as LGBTQ+, self-acceptance rises, and productiveness increases. Pursuance of day to day activities becomes easy because there is less feeling of rejection. It also becomes effortless to express themselves as they are happy for being themselves.

Success in getting rights

Coming out late in life gives you the courage to get what you want, which makes all the easier for the person to fight for their rights. Through the help of lawyers, they can get justice. Even when there is unfairness in the justice system, the LGBTQ+ community has always persevered. The lovely thing is that, even if the justice system is not fair, they can express themselves in public and have their distress taken care of by authorities.

Acceptance by the community

When an LGBTQ+ individual comes out even late in life, they may quickly be accepted by their community. Since family friends and colleagues have seen their struggle trying to fit it, they understand and accept them for who they are. Thus, giving them the necessary support to overcome all challenges.
At the end of a tunnel, there is light. Having lived most of their lives hiding from their sexual orientation, LGBTQ+ folks who come out late in life are now able to enjoy their life as their true and authentic selves.

National Coming Out Day is October 11th, and if you’re celebrating for the first or fiftieth time, congratulations!

About the Author:

Judy Bokao is 20 years old and was born in Ethiopia but relocated to Nairobi two years ago. She is passionate about everyone having equal rights and is also big on conservation and speaking up for our planet. Judy loves reading and photography and is just a free-spirited young lady trying to grow into a woman her mom can be proud of.

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MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to submit? Email patrick@matthewshepard.org