It's a fact: 75% of Gen Zers who come out, do so online before coming out to their friends and family1. Is it because it feels like a first "trial" step? Is it because it's not IRL? Is it because it feels anonymous? If Gen Z feels more comfortable online, then there's a need to create truly safe environments to hold space for what is likely one of the most important conversations of their lives.
INTRODUCING "THE SAFE SPACE SESSION"
In the days leading up to National Coming Out Day on Sunday, October 11th, influencers from the LGBTQ2+ community across Canada shared their coming out stories on social media and issued private invitations to join a virtual safe space session created exclusively for Gen Zers who are thinking about coming out.
The Safe Space Session was completely safe.
Just love and support.
Gen Zers from around the world joined "The Safe Space Session," hosted by Angie Bird
and moderated by Bill Ryan, a licensed social worker and internationally recognized expert in the field of sexuality, gender, sexual education and homophobia. The virtual Safe Space Session fostered open, honest dialogue about how to navigate the waters of this exceptionally important time in one's life, providing a supportive forum for participants to discuss their personal situations and plans for their own coming out.
After the counselling part of the session wrapped up, participants were surprised as celebrity guests from the LGBTQ2+ community popped into the chat, including multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter, performer and outspoken LGBTQ2+ philanthropist and activist Adam Lambert; former member of the girl group Fifth Harmony and one of pop's most loved singer-songwriters and outspoken LGBTQ2+ activist, 24-year-old Lauren Jauregui; Canadian YouTuber, actress, model and avid transgender activist Gigi Gorgeous, and Canada's own Jackie Cox, who was a fierce competitor on last season's RuPaul's Drag Race. The surprise guests shared their own coming out stories, answered participants' questions and provided some counsel based on their own experiences.
"Coming out is often one of the scariest and most important things someone will ever do. That's why so many young people come out online before they do in real life," said Bill Ryan. "COVID has created a lot of challenges for people in the LGBTQ2+ community, and it's especially hard for those who haven't yet come out. It's hard to feel connected, it's hard to feel able to explore who you are, it's hard to be your authentic self. Given that it looks like we'll be living in a virtual world for a while to come, it's more important than ever for us to connect virtually and ensure that everyone knows where to access the resources and support they need."
The celebrities shared their experience as well as some sage advice.
Said Adam Lambert, "I often wonder what my experience would have been back when I was a teenager, if I had had experiences like this." About coming out, Adam added, "Keeping a secret is harmful to you. If you're not out yet, you have to try to find someone in your life, someone somewhere who you come out to. It will be such a release – you can't imagine."
Said Lauren Jauregui about the event, "I'm just grateful. Grateful to be in these spaces," adding "Just know that it's your own journey, to go along at your own pace. To be express who you really are."
Said Gigi Gorgeous, "I know from personal experience coming out online, having somebody tell their story and thinking, 'That's me – it's the best feeling ever."
NYX Cosmetics Canada was behind the inception of and funding for "The Safe Space Session" initiative. Diversity, inclusion, accessibility and empowerment of self-expression through makeup for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or race, have long been fundamental brand pillars for the brand.
"To lead by example, earlier this year, all of NYX Cosmetics' retail stores in Canada became Certified Safe Spaces, with our employees across Canada participating in safe space training to ensure that everyone feels welcome to be who they are inside our stores," said Keon Zhang, General Manager for NYX Cosmetics Canada. "As National Coming Out Day was approaching, we asked ourselves how we could further extend our commitment to providing safe spaces to reach out to Gen Z, most of whom are more comfortable coming out online."
Added Zhang, "This year, National Coming Out Day is the day before Thanksgiving here in Canada. Across the country, friends and families will be gathering around the table – either virtually or physically. If someone is thinking about coming out on National Coming Out Day, on Thanksgiving, or any day of the year – it's important that we all do the work to create safe spaces for everyone."
"Most importantly, we wanted to ensure that people know about all of the resources that are out there, including the It Gets Better Project, whom we are proud partners and supporters of," Zhang said. "We believe it is our responsibility as a brand to lead by example and to do our part to truly stand strong as proud allies for all."
Learn more at www.thesafespacesessions.com
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