JOPLIN, Mo. — In a little less than a week, many people in the LGBTQ community will observe National Coming Out Day.
Every October 11th, the awareness day supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in making the decision to “come out of the closet” and, there are many emotions that come along with that moment.
Max Bruning-Roark, said, “I always knew that I was different.”
Max Bruning-Roark was raised in a religious household, and knew, deep down, he didn’t always align with what was culturally accepted as – quote – “normal.”
“I could bring a girlfriend home. That was normal for what we grew up with. But, to have a guy come home, was something that, yeah, I was scared of.”
At 25 years old, already a dad to a wonderful daughter, he came out as gay.
“It was very scary, but I knew that whatever was going to happen, I had very strong support. I had lots of friends that were very supportive and different family members that were supportive.”
…including his parents.
“I had a conversation with my mom about it. She didn’t say much, but she was very supportive about it.”
Grant Collings, Freeman Ozark Center Therapist, said, “There are a lot of anxieties about coming out, whether or not they would be accepted. Whether or not parents, grandparents, whatever their guardian is would be accepting of them.”
Thankfully, Max says his parents and family were pretty accepting — but it still was an adjusment when he started bringing his now-husband around the family.
“It took a little while for people to get used to it, but, they were, again, very supportive, which was very helpful. A lot of situations kids aren’t supported at all,” said Bruning-Roark.
Internally, he struggled with accepting what he had already known about himself for so long.
“Anybody seeing us in public, how would they react to it. That was, I think, the biggest struggle.”
Because, not every person that comes out has that loving, accepting environment.
“They’re sort of questioning where they’re at with gender identity, sexual orientation, and that is not reacted to with kindness, compassion, empathy, that can lead to a lot of, ‘I don’t fit in.’ Things like that where they then view suicide as a way out,” said Collings.
“I had a friend of mine that committed suicide a year ago. And, it was, probably the closest person. Very, very, very hard for me. And they were going through the same type of struggles,” said Bruning-Roark.
There are many resources in every community for LGBTQ people. But, more importantly, both men say just remember to have compassion and kindness if your loved one comes out.
“Individuals that parents are not accepting of them coming out, are 8 times more likely to experience suicidality,” said Collings.
“Accepting them for who they are, they need as much love as they can, otherise you’re going to deal with more struggles in the long run. You can’t change somebody in who they love. Love is love,” said Bruning-Roark.
If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk.