On Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 DHF Teens 4 Equality with support from DHF Equality Organizer, Dean Welliver, hosted Beyond Our Closets: LGBTQ Youth Speak Out for Family Acceptance. The event commemorated National Coming Out Day. Teens 4 Equality leaders Emily, Chyna, Nena, Dennis, Andrew, and Julian led a panel discussion in which they shared touching, often emotional, but also joyful and hopeful stories about coming out and family acceptance. Through their experiences of coming out as LGBTQ youth in the 2010s, they related what they want parents and the community to know about LGBTQ youth and offered suggestions for how families and the community can be more supportive.
Dennis asked for people to take him seriously and not see his identity as some sort of joke.
Chyna suggested families make this topic a part of normal family discussion.
Julian made a simple but powerful request, “Just hug your kid. A real hug – not a weak side hug! Tell them you love them, and say it like you really mean it!”
There was one overarching message for family and community, “Be openminded. Be willing to change your opinions and learn something new.”
Following the panel there was time for questions and comments between attendees and panelists. The courage and honesty of the youth inspired attendees to open up and share some of their own stories and explore what family acceptance means to them.