The Coming Out Experience Group
Words by Lawrence Karol
June 13, 2022
Every LGBTQ person who comes out has a very personal story to tell about the path they followed and the reactions to their revelation. It's no surprise then that the individuals who participate in the DAP Health Wellness Center's weekly group "The Coming Out Experience" share some strikingly intimate and heartfelt stories.
"There are four things that I talk a great deal about," says Steve Rossetti, DAP Health's Career Development Specialist, who started the group in Fall 2020 and is its facilitator. "Living with shame, living with guilt, feeling less than, and living with fear, because you have to kind of understand why people stay in the closet and why they're fearful to come out."
"I think it's valuable for other people to hear that every time someone comes out it doesn't necessarily mean hatred or rejection," he adds. "We want to kind of understand why did Mom and Dad Smith respond so favorably, [while] Mom and Dad Jones responded so negatively? And so we try to understand the whole cornucopia of what precipitates that."
Rossetti usually starts with a primary question that sets the tone for the meeting and is often correlated to a topic that was discussed the prior week—the composition of the group varies, but there's also a core circle of people who've been participating since its founding. "Because [the questions are] open ended, they kind of trigger a lot of emotion for people so there's additional information that they want to start with the next week," he says. At the same time, he always tells members that discussing a particular question from their perspective is completely optional and that no one should ever feel they have to respond.
He adds that just hearing and understanding other people's stories can, in and of itself, have a very profound, helpful, and supportive effect upon the group's members. "I'll use the term that I use a lot, [it's about] finding your tribe. And I think for gay people, historically, when you have found other gay people, it normalizes who you are."
"It's a powerful group," adds Rossetti. "It's really very cool, and I'm very excited to be able to facilitate. It just sometimes amazes me, just the whole sense of reflection and the big purpose is, 'How do I move forward and live happily and authentically.' That's the main catalyst or objective of this group."
If you’re interested in joining The Coming Out Experience group, please contact Steve Rosetti at SRosetti@daphealth.org or 760-322-6378.