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Coming Out Gay

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There are a lot of things to consider here. How far you are into the coming out process in general, where you are location-wise (Southern U.S., New England, west coast..), etc. Of course some social climates are more accepting than others.

For me, it was very clear from my personal statement that I identify as queer, so in that respect it's a relief that I can go in without the burden of having to "come out" to the department.

Most likely there will be gay grad students wherever you go, so you won't have to worry about being the only one. Many schools also have gay grad student groups. I met several queer students when I went on one campus visit who were eager to tell me anything I wanted to know about the community.

It's always a personal choice whether to come out in any situation, but in my opinion it would be a heavy burden to have to stay closeted for 5-6 years in grad school.

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There are a lot of things to consider here. How far you are into the coming out process in general, where you are location-wise (Southern U.S., New England, west coast..), etc. Of course some social climates are more accepting than others.

For me, it was very clear from my personal statement that I identify as queer, so in that respect it's a relief that I can go in without the burden of having to "come out" to the department.

Most likely there will be gay grad students wherever you go, so you won't have to worry about being the only one. Many schools also have gay grad student groups. I met several queer students when I went on one campus visit who were eager to tell me anything I wanted to know about the community.

It's always a personal choice whether to come out in any situation, but in my opinion it would be a heavy burden to have to stay closeted for 5-6 years in grad school.

Thanks for the advice. It does help put me at ease. The reason why I asked is because I'm transferring into a phd program from another. I was the only gay person in the department and the only one that was doing work on sexuality (there are others that are doing sexuality, but is predominately about heterosexuality), and it felt weird talking about my project. I'm now going to a bigger mid-western city and hopefully it would be better.

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Sociology programs are easily amongst the safest places to come out. In my experience, majority of soc grad students are warm, caring, and understanding. There might, as always, be some weirdness about it. My really rather uninformed advice is to play it by ear: start out on a need-to-know basis, and then tell people when you are comfortable with them.

(P.S., I am sorta surprised everyone took 2bphd's bizarre remark as something hostile. My first thought was that he was just expressing surprise at the question, as opposed to being a boorish asshole. What the hell do I know. Anyway, I would *not* take his remark as evidence of rampant homophobia in soc/grad student circles--I don't think there's much of it!)

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I am sorry.

But this queer thing is difficult to digest for me. I dont really get the concept.

I might understand the idea with time.

yeah, um, i have played the queer activist role in a number of pretty hostile climates, so while i understand and appreciate your potential willingness to try and "get the concept," it doesn't really warrant you posting a reply to a question like this about safe spaces. grad school is often a time when major life issues pop up, and there's research somewhere that shows that mental health issues come about in grad school at an alarming rate, and when wrestling with coming out questions it's really important that queer people think this stuff through for their own well being.

like what other people said, sociology as a discipline is definitely among the most queer friendly i've ever seen. i'm leaving a program in sociology at a school of education (where sexuality stuff SUCKS, by the way), and i'm starting a phd program where gender and sexuality are pretty commonly studied.

a lot of questions about whether it's okay to come out or not really depend on your sense of the school climate. i agree that carrying the burden of the closet is one that can be incredibly stressful, so really do your homework about this one. look through the student list and see if there's anyone explicitly studying queer issues, and maybe email them. if you have a decent relationship with the grad director, maybe reach out to them. i did that when i was first admitted and they kindly connected me with queer resources on campus as well as a student or two that is actively involved in the community.

if you're having trouble with finding all this info, you can PM me with info about the exact school you're going to and i might be able to see if i can look up school climate information or even local info about queer resources. it's a tough decision, but it sounds like you're working through it.

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Sociology programs are easily amongst the safest places to come out. In my experience, majority of soc grad students are warm, caring, and understanding. There might, as always, be some weirdness about it. My really rather uninformed advice is to play it by ear: start out on a need-to-know basis, and then tell people when you are comfortable with them.

(P.S., I am sorta surprised everyone took 2bphd's bizarre remark as something hostile. My first thought was that he was just expressing surprise at the question, as opposed to being a boorish asshole. What the hell do I know. Anyway, I would *not* take his remark as evidence of rampant homophobia in soc/grad student circles--I don't think there's much of it!)

For real. While sociology might be a safe spot to come out, sometimes it doesn't seem like a safe spot to joke around sometimes. The extreme liberal ideology makes it hard to make joke (although at times they will be tasteless), because all of the ''bleeding hearts" take everything you say so seriously. I didn't view the original comment as overly offensive, in fact--i thought it was a joke. Judging by the last reply, I guess it wasn't. However, I really feel like in sociology you're allowed to speak your mind, so long as your mind aligns with a liberal ideology. Makes it hard for people who like "shock value" comedy.

To the OP--i can almost promise you that it will not be a problem to come out to your new department, and good luck.

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Sociology programs are easily amongst the safest places to come out. In my experience, majority of soc grad students are warm, caring, and understanding. There might, as always, be some weirdness about it. My really rather uninformed advice is to play it by ear: start out on a need-to-know basis, and then tell people when you are comfortable with them.

(P.S., I am sorta surprised everyone took 2bphd's bizarre remark as something hostile. My first thought was that he was just expressing surprise at the question, as opposed to being a boorish asshole. What the hell do I know. Anyway, I would *not* take his remark as evidence of rampant homophobia in soc/grad student circles--I don't think there's much of it!)

I agree that sociology has to be THE safest discipline for coming out. People who do sociology TEND TO (at the very least, SHOULD) understand social inequality and social constructionism, and I would not expect anything but acceptance from your fellow students - especially if you're heading to a place that specializes in LGBT stuff.

I would also argue that if what you're studying has anything to do with LGBTQ populations, you really won't have to come out. This is coming from the perspective of a straight person who does queer studies and is comfortable with the fact that almost everyone who only knows me for my research thinks I'm gay. Whatever your comfort level is with talking to people about your sexual orientation is what you should follow. Do NOT avoid it out of fear of being judged tho (or even worse, accommodating those who might judge you). You really should be fine.

Don't take the bad energy that's infiltrated this thread as a sign. The topic title might catch the eye of some troll(s), but they don't represent the soc community. I'm with hoobers on this one too - homophobia is SO rare in sociology (in my experience) that I thought the original "OMG" response meant "OMG it's so obvious that you shouldn't worry!" Which says something about my own reaction when I first read the question.

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One more thing: you asked if it was "necessary" to come out? We've established that your own comfort level is what's important, but I actually think it will be necessary further down the line to admit that you have a personal interest in your research. Some might disagree. But I think the best research lays out your personal interest on the table, then makes a really good argument (indirectly) for why you should still accept the results objectively. By the time you get to the stage in your research where you'd have to do this though, you'll have already figured out that NO one in your community is offended or maybe even surprised.

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I am sorry.

But this queer thing is difficult to digest for me. I dont really get the concept.

I might understand the idea with time.

What the hell? You certainly don't belong in this discipline. I hope I don't end up in a cohort with anyone that has an attitude about sexuality and gender identity like that. WHOA, I am actually dumbfounded by this.

Edit: to the OP, I would imagine you would be fine in most places, I know it's scary having to come out "again" but it seems like you'll feel better if you do.

Edited by xdarthveganx

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60% of my very small cohort at a very selective program is gay. no, i don't think it's a problem at all.

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agree with everyone who says that coming out in a sociology department is probably the safest place to come out in academia. My school just had a forum for LGBT students and all of them said that life got so much better once they came out to their friends and colleagues, one who suffered from mental health problems said that they pretty much washed away once he came out. With the stress of graduate school already so high, I personally wouldn't want to have the added stress of hiding who I am. I do also recognize that as a straight male I can't possibly understand personally how difficult it is to come out, I just thought I'd add my two cents.

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Hey, I agree, a Sociology departmen must be a very welcoming environment. But of course, it depends on how you feel!

I came out in second term of my MA in Women's Studies. Even in WS, everyone can not understand being gay but it was not a disturbing experience.

If you want to, you can come out. If not, it is your decision again, thus we have to respect. Coming out or not is not a matter. You just need to be happy and put your perspective into your works.

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As someone with research in LGBT health, I included this in my personal statement and was told by one of my reviewers that I was marginalizing myself by including this information. Although I didn't "come out", she felt it was implied... I didn't take it out of my statement and also didn't get into any programs. I'm not sure if this disclosure had anything to with my rejection but I may never know....

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