Coming out to his loved ones 'felt like I had stopped carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders,' said one 13-year-old.
Coming out to one's friends, family and loved ones is often a nerve-wracking and sometimes dangerous experience—more so when it's an adolescent who is still under the care of potentially intolerant or homophobic guardians. This is why the support of at least one family member or any adult can make all the difference for teens who choose to open up to the world about an important part of their identity. According to a 2022 survey from the Trevor Project, the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, 45% of LGBTQ youth (between the ages of 13 to 24 from across the United States) seriously considered suicide in the past year.
"More than half of transgender and nonbinary young people seriously considered suicide in the past year, and one in five actually attempted suicide," Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley told Good Morning America. "We know that having just one accepting adult in an LGBTQ+ young person's life can reduce their risk of suicide by 40%." Davon, 21, and Sawyer, 13, are both examples of how much of an impact their family's acceptance and support can have on young members of the gay LGBTQ+ community. Both have come out to their family members and are now speaking out about how crucial their love and affirmation have been for them.
In a viral video shared on TikTok earlier this year, Davon opened up about how coming out to his family initially felt isolating. "I realized I'll never be what they want me to be," he said in the emotional clip captioned: "No hate to my parents, they just don't understand." However, Davon has now revealed that his father came to him with a powerful message a couple of days after he posted the TikTok video. "After I came out, before my parents even saw the video, my dad reassured me that anybody that I love would be welcome in his household," Davon shared. "So I think that's just the most beautiful thing."
@davonesque No hate to my parents, they just don’t understand #christiantiktok #lgbt #comingout #lgbtq ♬ Thank U - Davon!
Meanwhile, coming out to his family was comparatively easier for young Sawyer. He shared that he came out to his family at home one morning, while they were all gathered for breakfast." Recalling that memorable conversation, the teen's mother, Cindy, said: "When he told us, it was just kind of matter of fact, over breakfast with his brother and sister sitting there. And it is just he has a crush on a boy in school. And so that was it." She admitted that she was initially worried about how others would respond to Sawyer coming out. Thankfully, their response has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I had a moment of, 'Oh, my gosh, is he... are kids going to tease him?'" Cindy said. "Which, of course, hasn't happened at all. He has the most wonderful, loving group of friends and everybody is just who they are and they love each other and they accept each other, which is wonderful. Just going to make me tear up a little bit." Coming out to his loved ones, Sawyer said, "felt like I had stopped carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders."
In an effort to make the process of coming out easier for members of the LGBTQ+ community, the Trevor Project has crafted a handbook—that's available on their website—including examples of how to navigate the sensitive process and a resources list for support "before, during, and after coming out." The nonprofit recommends planning the process, understanding how people feel about LGBTQ+ topics before opening up to them, and considering factors such as the environment and location where one comes out, the timing of it, and when possible, considering coming out to people who are already supportive.
11+ years ago, I came out for the first time. It took all my strength to overcome such fear and dread. #NationalComingOutDay— Kevin DeMille (@kdemillionaire) October 11, 2021
Whether out & proud, still finding the words, or not quite sure, there is love for you. We see you. For guidance & support, visit https://t.co/C4ecFRM6rg
Teens who feel overwhelmed or unsupported by their family, friends, and community can also reach out to a trained crisis counselor at the Trevor Project via phone through the TrevorLifeline at 866-488-7386 or through TrevorChat.org.