YouTuber Shantania Beckford shared some advice on coming out and combatting isolation for Digital Pride.
While driving with her girlfriend, Nicola, the two women shared their own coming out stories and what they want young LGBTI people to know about coming out.
‘Talk to your friends,’ Shantania offers as her first piece of advice.
‘I always say it’s easier to come out to your friends because they love you for you, not for who you date. Tell your ride-or-die people who you can trust.’
Nicola adds that not every friend will be supportive, but it’s a blessing in disguise.
‘I told my friends first and some of them never spoke to me again, with some it was never the same,’ she reveals. ‘But it just highlights who your true friends are.’
Digital Pride is the only global Pride dedicated to enabling everyone to be part of a Pride, whoever they are and wherever they live in the world. This year, we are focusing on tackling loneliness and isolation. It takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.
What about coming out to your family?
When talking about coming out to your family, Shantania brings up being black and the specific difficulties that can accompany that intersection of identities.
‘For us, we’re Jamaican and being gay is a no,’ she says of her and Nicola, and how culture can weigh heavily on this journey. ‘There are families who will punish you for who you love and who you are.’
The solution in Shantania’s eyes is simple.
‘Don’t tell them — yet. Wait until you’re out of their house and they’re not financially supporting you and have no way of controlling you,’ she advises. ‘That’s why it’s important to tell your friends. You won’t feel so alone. Tell your family when you’re ready, but also when you’re safe.
‘Some parents might take a week to come around, like my mum did, some might take years. But it’s important to stay true to who you are.’
For Nicola, it was harder. It took her mom over a year to fully accept her. That journey included spending time with Nicola and another loved one who accepted Nicola.
‘You’re not alone’
Both Shantania and Nicola stress the importance of actively fighting against isolation. They discuss the high rates of mental health struggles, such as depression and suicide ideation, in the LGBTI community.
Nicola recommends finding a group, even something as simple as a chat room, to connect with someone and talk to them.
‘You’ll be surprised how many people have felt alone and can relate to you,’ Shantania concludes. ‘You’re not alone.’
What is Digital Pride?
Digital Pride is the online movement, by Gay Star News, so you can take part in Pride whoever and wherever you are. Even if you are from a country where being LGBTI is criminalized or leaves you in danger – it’s a Pride festival you can be a part of.
In 2019, Digital Pride is tackling loneliness and isolation with articles and videos connecting LGBTI people. Join us by reaching out to someone who needs it. The festival takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.
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