By M. Dev Childs, Learning Specialist, Pritzker College Prep
Hello, my name is MC (M. Childs) and I am a Learning Specialist at Pritzker College Prep. I have been out as a queer person for six years now, and within the last year, I came out as nonbinary. My pronouns are they/them.
When I started working at Noble this school year, I decided to share my pronouns with everyone– which, not gonna lie, was pretty nerve-wracking. I felt that I needed to bring all of myself to work every day. This started with my name and pronouns.
As I write this, I can’t help but feel a little nervous about speaking so candidly about my experience as a queer person in the field of education. But I also understand how being openly queer can help a lot of students who may also be exploring their own journey with gender and sexuality. Being a teacher that is openly a member of the LGBTQ community can help students who are questioning their gender and sexuality feel safe and supported at school. As an educator, I aim to create safe and brave spaces for students to be their authentic selves.
For many people, the idea of coming out can come with anxiety and, oftentimes, unnecessary pressure to share your truth with those around you. As I have gotten older, reframing the concept of “coming out” has helped me process and understand my own sexuality and gender.
When I began to accept my queer identity (which can be an intense process for members of the LGBTQ community as well), there was pressure to let other people know. It felt as if I had this giant secret waiting to come out.
I did share this new life update with friends and some family (which didn’t come as a shock to most people). And I began to realize that I actually did have a choice in deciding if I wanted to let people in on this part of my life. This is when I began to reframe “coming out” as this idea of “bringing you in”. By sharing my truth with people, I am being honest about who I am and giving them a glimpse into how I navigate the world.
Coming out should always be a choice. There is often a lot of hard work and soul-searching that comes long before people build up the courage to come out. This should be recognized.
My advice to students who may identify as a member of the LGBTQ community:
Take time to process your feelings, whether it be about your gender and sexuality or not. Remember that your feelings are important and help shape who you are as a person.
Also, research is your friend! I spent countless hours researching terms, definitions, organizations, media and watching YouTubers share their own coming out stories before I got the courage to share my truth with other people. I read poems, stories, and essays from people in the LGBTQ community. I watched movies and TV shows as well! I think that this research component is important because it makes clear that many, many, MANY people before you have also had these feelings and you are not alone in this long (and scary) process of accepting yourself.
Coming out does have power, but it is important to remember that YOU have that choice and YOU ultimately decide if that is something you would like to do.
Hopefully, one day, we will live in a world where we don’t have to come out, and we can just show up as our authentic queer selves!