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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Opinion

More people are not becoming LGBTQ+, they are just feeling safer to come out


An increasing graph colored in with rainbow colors

Cindy Rivas Alfaro/The Cougar

Joining the  LGBTQ+ community is not a choice but rather an abrupt realization that you are not alone in your feelings regarding gender or sexuality. 

After decades of constant discrimination and stigma surrounding non-heteronormative relationships, LGBTQ+ individuals are starting to rise up with confidence. 

A recent poll revealed that one in five of the Gen Z population identifies as LGBTQ+,  more than any other generation. One of the reasons the numbers are rising is because the stigma surrounding queer individuals is decreasing. 

“The more people who come out as themselves, the more others are willing to feel safe coming out,” said sophomore trombone performance major Cassandra Thomas. “It’s an exponential growth. The reason there are statistically more LGBTQIA+ people than before is because they were oppressed by society due to lack of support and understanding in the past.” 

The past for the LGBTQ+ community has not been bright. Even today, they have suffered from countless hate crimes and discrimination. 

In 2016, 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Florida known to be a popular gay club. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered that families with transgender children be investigated for child abuse if they agreed to gender-affirming care for their child. 

“With increasing attempts from many conservatives, I feel like the rights I need are in danger of being taken away,” Thomas said. “But if we fight back, we’ll be able to maintain the safe space that’s taken decades to build. Especially in places like Texas.”

One of the biggest milestones for the LGBTQ+ community includes the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states. 

Even the general public’s positive outlook on gay and lesbian individuals increased from 56 percent in 2020 to 62 percent in 2022. 

To add on, despite the government’s attempts to undo the years of progress in the LGBTQ+ community, 7.1 percent of adults in the U.S. identify as part of the community in 2022 which is an increase from the 5.6 percent in 2021. 

With this in mind, people are not forced nor coaxed to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

In fact, it’s the exact opposite. 

With the normalization of relationships among same-sex couples, conversations regarding gender and the continued effort to educate others, people are finding words to their emotions and finding the confidence to be their true selves. 

The Trevor Project surveyed 35,000 queer individuals which revealed that 26 percent of youth identify as non-binary, an identity that has gained traction in recent years. 

With many of the Gen-Z population causing these numbers to rise, it shows that queer people are finding resources and support at a younger age.

As stated before, the reason many people did not come out in the past was because the support was practically non-existent. People died for even uttering the word gay and marching for their right to love and live in a world that accepts them. 

These higher numbers should be celebrated, not looked at in fear. 

They are the proof that the hard work from LGBTQ+ activists has paid off. 

Because of them, the youth can be who they are and defend themselves confidently. 

To celebrate Pride Month, join UH at the 44th Annual Pride Houston Parade. 

Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a journalism sophomore who can be reached at [email protected].

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