On Natl. Coming Out Day, Trinity Website Helps Questioning Youth
In an effort to help young people who are struggling with their sexual orientation, Trinity College's Counseling Services is observing National Coming Out Day with an online resource guide that will help you determine, "Am I Gay?"
"I hope the information my website provides will help people who are questioning their sexual orientation gain a better understanding of themselves," said Associate Director Richard Reams, who published the website www.YourSexualOrientation.info, where the resource guide can be found. "I also hope they will discover resources that can facilitate their identity development and enhance their well-being."
Since 2004, Reams has taught a class at Trinity that explores the complexity of sexual orientation and identity development from a Western perspective. He said that while he was gathering resources for this course, he discovered that very little guidance was available for adolescents and adults who are trying to clarify their sexual orientation. So, about four years ago, he took it upon himself to write such a guide for the Web.
He published the guide on June 28, to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Since its launch, a dozen other universities have added it to their online collection of web resources for students.
"There are many guides for coming out to others, but no comprehensive guide for coming out to oneself," said Reams. "I wanted people who Googled 'Am I Gay?' to find something substantial, not just silly quizzes based on stereotypes."
The seven-part guide discusses terms and myths related to the topic, teaches readers how to sort through personal evidence and obstacles in their journeys for clarification, and provides suggested next steps and resources for moving forward. It does not address the challenges of coming out to others, or the risk of suicide among sexual-minority youth. Reams said that online resources abound for these issues.
"Since I launched the website, it has received about 2,400 unique hits and has been linked to over a dozen other websites providing coming out resources to LGBQ people," said Reams. "Thus far, I have received no negative feedback or accusations that I am ’recruiting’ or ’indoctrinating.’"
Reams said he hoped that parents and teachers will use the website to educate themselves about sexual orientation and identity development, which might lead to homes and schools that are more welcoming for our LGBQ youth.
For more information, visit www.YourSexualOrientation.info