Coming Out as Queer
Kids might start to feel “different” throughout childhood, but they don’t know what these feelings mean. Kids might be gay, lesbian, bi, trans or queer – but are not sure. How do kids figure out what to do with these feelings and even what they are? “Coming out” is a gradual process to understand, accept, and share one’s gender and sexual identity. This is scary and confusing.
Overwhelming emotions bring dark clouds over this journey creating serious mental health risks caused by feelings of isolation, fear, anxiety and depression. Societal discrimination, stigma, and harassment further complicate this. Children may suppress their feelings to fit in or avoid angering parents & family. Today, in some places in the world, we are more accepting and young people are coming out at earlier ages. As such, parents have an important role to support their children through the process of coming out.
Mercedes Killeen is an award-winning author, editor, and social media marketer based out of Toronto. Since coming out in her early twenties, Mercedes’ writing has been specifically informed by her queer identity and how that intersects with “taboo” topics like mental illness. Her work has been published widely in periodicals such as Shameless Magazine, The Innis Review, Half a Grapefruit Magazine, and The UC Review. As a poet, she published her first book, tulips, in 2016. After that, she published her second collection of poetry, Using a spoon as a knife. She has also been invited by Toronto Poet Laureate, A.F. Moritz, to tell her story in several guest lectures at the University of Toronto.
In this episode, we learn from Mercedes about her struggles with coming out and mental illness. The purpose is to inform parents on how they can support their children to a healthier and happier LGBTQ life.
Youth LGBT+ Mental Health Resources
The Trevor Project (US)
Kids Help Phone (Canada)
Stella’s Place (Canada)