Editor's Note: Charles Robbins is the executive director and CEO of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
"How do I know if I'm gay?" "Should I tell my family?" "What if my friends won't hang out with me once they find out?"
Each day on The Trevor Helpline, our dedicated volunteer counselors listen and respond to questions like these from young people who just aren't sure whether or not it's the right time for them to come out. As many of us know, coming out- whether it's for the very first time or not- can be a difficult and challenging process. Our young callers have reported feeling scared, alone, angry, sad, confused, and a wide range of other emotions as they consider whether or not to come out. Yet, many callers also report feeling relieved, supported, encouraged, or happy after they do make the decision to come out. It all depends on the individual, their support system, and what kind of environment they live in.
As difficult as it may be to come out, the process is a brave and courageous act that should be celebrated. National Coming Out Week gives us the opportunity to do just that. Whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or as an ally, this week has been a celebration of diversity, pride and love. National Coming Out Week is not only a commemoration of how far we've come in the lesbian and gay civil rights movement, but also a reminder of the hard work we still face ahead.
Each year, The Trevor Helpline receives more than 18,000 calls from LGBTQ youth in their times of crisis and despair. The Trevor Project is proud and honored to be there for the young people who need us the most. Regardless of what youth need to talk about, we're here to listen and understand without judgment. We're there for these young people because we believe in them and we know how important it is to empower them with resources and support.
All of us can do our part to be an example of courage and pride for young people everywhere. If you are a young person or know a youth who is considering coming out, we encourage you to download our Coming Out Fact Sheet to learn more about the process and find helpful resources. We created it in honor of National Coming Out Day, October 11.
Happy National Coming Out Week from your friends at The Trevor Project!