Afraid to march at Pride.
Ask a Mental Health Professional the Difficult Questions. Dr. Darcy Smith answers your questions about coming out for a cause
Dear Dr. Darcy:
I recently moved to NYC to escape the confinement of my small Southern town. Since moving here, I’ve begun working at an LGBT organization, where I was recently informed that the company is participating in the gay Pride March and that all employees are expected to participate. As much as I love my job, I’m not out back home and I’m apprehensive about my family or friends seeing me on TV or through any other media coverage. As we get closer to June, I’m feeling more pressure around this conflict and I feel incapable of making a decision. Not sure if it’s better to commit professional suicide or social suicide.
I’m not a big fan of tossing around the word “suicide,” particularly as it pertains to coming out. Personally I’m more of a win-win kind of girl, so let’s see if we can find an outcome that keeps both your profession and your social ties alive and, most importantly, an outcome that keeps your sincerity alive.
I don’t think you want to live in the closet. You left your home town, you moved to New York and you chose to work for an LGBT organization. These decisions speak to your need to live an authentic existence. And they also indicate that you didn’t feel you could live an authentic existence back home. That’s fair, but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, particularly since you live in NYC and your family lives in
I think you need this conflict to propel you to speak your truth. You say that the conflict has rendered you incapable of making a decision, and in making no decision you allow others to make decisions for you. By others, I mean your employer. You don’t want to rock the boat, so you’ll likely do as you’re asked, exposing yourself on one of the nation’s largest LGBT stages. You’ll take your chances, and while I don’t have a crystal ball, I’m betting it would be a relief if you were exposed because you’d finally have to face that dreaded conversation with your loved ones.
I think you’ve made your decision, and I support it. We each come out in unique ways. And at your coming out there will be a parade. I hope you can feel proud.
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Dr. Darcy Smith received her Masters degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from New York University. She has been a practicing social worker for over 10 years and is in private practice in both New York City and New Jersey.
*This column is not a consultation with a mental health professional and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own therapist or counselor.