How do day-to-day decisions about being “out” affect health?

Our last few blog posts on Lavender Health have touched on the challenges of being “out” – and indeed I had a recent conversation that brought the health implications of this challenge to the forefront.  The conversation reminded me that each and every day, and usually several times a day, even those of us who consider ourselves to be “out” and very open with our LGBTQ identity, encounter situations when we have to decide, once again, out&proud“am I going to come out?”   A couple of people in the conversation commented on the typical approach that is akin to “don’t ask, don’t tell” or “I don’t make a big deal of it – if someone asks I will be honest but I don’t go around waving a flag.” I shared an occasion with a supervisor on a new job approached me during my first week on the job and warned me not to talk about being a lesbian!  Surely, these day to day challenges affect our health.  I know they make me tense, they distract me from attending to aspects of a situation that I might need to focus on instead, and the emotions and mental memories linger for a long long time.

Consider these scenarios:

  • You are on an elevator with your partner, and someone asks “are you sisters?”
  • You have ordered take-out on the phone and your partner will be picking up the order.  You know that if were in a heterosexual relationship you would say “my wife” or “my husband.”  You have to decide if you are going to use one of these terms, or simply say “my friend.”
  • A person taking your reservation for a trip asks you for your emergency contact, and the relationship of that person to you.  You have to decide how to label your relationship in this particular situation.
  • You are introducing yourself to a new group, and everyone else has shared something about their family.  What are you going to say about yours?

So what do you think? Share experiences you have had, and also ways in which you deal to compensate!


About Peggy L Chinn

feminist, nurse activist, writer, founding editor of ANS Advances in Nursing Science, quilter, grandmother nurturing the future of the amazing children in my life.
This entry was posted in Activism, Coming out, Join the discussion, LGBT Health, Mental Health, Minority Stress, Stories of our lives. Bookmark the permalink.

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