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Since 1987, October 11th has been an important day for the LGBTQIA+ community. This year is the 31st anniversary of National Coming Out Day—a day that serves as a way for LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals to celebrate themselves, each other, and the people in their lives who support and love them for who they are.
To highlight this day, we asked one of our own, Eric Lerma, to share their coming out journey, what coming out means to them, and how living their truth helped them to empower others.
I am so indebted to this community. I have been afforded an infinite amount of lessons, virtues, and affirmations–more than I could have ever hoped to acquire. I would say that I’m most grateful for my ability to understand and navigate shame. I came out in a small, country town in the Central Valley of California. The community was small, and most were deeply closeted, and many of us had a multitude of shared experiences when it came to how we were treated by our peers. While I wouldn’t wish what some of us went through unto anyone, I’ve learned how to help people through their shame. I’ve learned how to empower and instill confidence in people when they maybe feel at their lowest, when they feel they don’t have a place in the world. I’ve learned to actively practice compassion and empathy. The LGBTQIA+ Community has empowered me to empower others.
The timing of my coming out wasn’t calculated or given too much thought, nor was it a particularly joyous occasion. For lack of better phrasing, I was very tired when I came out; exhausted even. So much of my energy was spent trying to keep my head down and not respond to any antagonistic behavior; the obscene gestures and comments in the locker room, the pointed questions attempting to get me to admit or confess my sexuality, being closely followed and taunted while I walked home from school, etc. I had been subject to and endured so many years of this harassment that most of my time in middle and high school was spent in a major depression. I remember there being a pretty distinct numbness at the time. This ultimately resulted in a sense of apathy regarding what people thought of me and a feeling of having nothing left to lose.
So I started telling the truth. I didn’t dodge the questions, I responded to the crass comments without filter or hesitation, and owned my identity. Pretty shortly after, most of the harassment and pestering subsided. It was no longer a secret that people could use against me.
I would start by saying that we shouldn’t use the word or words familial to “preferred” when it comes to Pronouns. It implies that it’s optional and subjective to each individual that person interacts with, which they’re not. You can prefer Coke over Pepsi. You can prefer Slack over email. But you don’t have a preference when it comes to your identity. That is concrete, objective, not up for debate, and should be respected as such. So, when it comes to asking someone about their pronouns, ask, “What are your Pronouns?”
“Coming out” is synonymous with living your truth. It is an act of self-care, self-love. It opens the door to self-discovery. It is one of the greatest gifts a person can give themselves.
First thing’s first, do it on your terms. Come out in a way that’s respectful and reflective of who you are or who you want to be and do so with confidence.
Second, give yourself the time you need. You aren’t on anyone’s schedule or agenda but your own. There is no right or wrong time to come out.
Third and lastly, don’t get hung up on the labels. Sexuality and gender are fluid and exist on a spectrum. You don’t have to speak in absolutes or choose an identifier. Your identity is yours and yours alone, and it is subject to evolution and change.
Approximately 12,000 women aged 40 or younger are diagnosed with breast cancer every year*. Fortunately, there are preventative steps that we can take to help protect ourselves and each other—one of the best ones being exercise. That’s right. Not only does exercise help us release endorphins, but just 30 minutes of exercise three to four times per week can help decrease a person’s risk of developing breast cancer by 30–50%*.
This is hope in a statistic. Just by adopting a more healthy, active lifestyle, we could prevent the risk of developing breast cancer, while also inspiring others to reduce their risk as well. Keep A Breast Foundation has made doing just this their mission through their annual fundraising campaign, Fit 4 Prevention.
Every October, studios from all over the globe participate by raising money through donation-based workout classes for the Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB). They have created a national movement dedicated to educating others about breast cancer prevention through fitness and wellness—something Mindbody is extremely passionate about. Participating in your favorite activities, all while supporting, preventing, and spreading awareness about breast cancer awareness? Let’s get moving.
If you want to take a donation-based class at your favorite studio, encourage your favorite studios to sign up to bring your community closer together in a meaningful way. Registering is quick and easy. If you think your local studio may be interested in participating, have them check out KAB’s help page—where they can learn how to register for a donation-based class during the month of October. KAB even has a social media kit available to fitness studios to help them promote their donation-based classes.
Can’t find a local studio to take a donation-based class near you? Don’t worry, you can still give your support by donating directly to KAB’s website. Luckily, any time that you are moving your body and spreading the word—you’re doing your part in spreading awareness on how to help prevent breast cancer. That is beyond amazing.
This October, we hope you’ll join us in our plight to support the KAB Foundation and its mission to help prevent breast cancer through cultivating a healthier, more active lifestyle. Through movement, health, and wellness—we can reach great heights, together.
To learn more about the KAB Foundation and its mission and how you can get involved further, visit their website.
* National Cancer Institute