National Coming Out Day (U.S.) was Sunday, October 11 2015. Created by the Human Rights Campaign in 1988, this day was designed to support LGBTQ people and their allies in becoming more visible, with an optimistic promise of improved acceptance. In honor of this, I sat down with my friend and colleague, George Dukes III. George is one of the principal board members of North Star, the local LGBTQ center in Winston-Salem, NC. George knows what it’s like to come out as a gay man in a small, Southern, largely conservative town. The following interview includes his guidance for other gay people who find themselves in a similar situation.
The stigma of mental illness has long-lasting effects on both its sufferers and those that support them. Many advances have been made to recognize psychiatric disorders as medical problems largely outside the patient’s control. There is still much to do, however, to completely alleviate the isolation and discrimination they can cause. Negative stigmas have numerous effects; they cause a disinclination to seek treatment and make patients feel as if they must keep their struggles private. In their attempts to encase their disorders in secrecy, many patients wind up feeling isolated and become depressed. If those with mental illness begin to become their diagnoses it leads to self-doubt and shame.