Coming out is a life long process of understanding, accepting, and acknowledging your identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or a similar identity. Coming out includes both exploring your identity and sharing that identity with others. The first person you have to come out to is yourself.
Coming out happens in different ways and occurs at different ages for different people. College, in particular, is often the time in which students begin to explore their identities and come out to peers, friends, and family members. Whether you are just beginning your coming out process or are well into it, the Spectrum Center has ample resources and a knowledgeable staff to help you through this time.
We welcome you to visit us and ask as many questions as you want, gather as much information as you need, and build a support system within our office and among our other visiting students that can last a lifetime. We hope to see you soon!
Spectrum Center Support Groups
Intentional Intersections provides a space to explore the lived experiences associated with LGBTQ identity and its connections with other identities. This drop-in style discussion group series consists of four topics throughout the year:
- Race & Ethnicity
- Gender Identity & Expression
- Religion, Family, & Relationships
- Self-Acceptance & Pride
Note: the Race & Ethnicity session is intended for those who self-identify as a person of color, and the Gender Identity & Expression session is intended for those who self-identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, and/or genderqueer.
GPS: Guidance Perspective Support
What is GPS?
GPS is a tool for LGBTQ and similarly-identified students to use as they are navigating their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression identities. The GPS Program provides students with Guidance to helpful information and resources, Perspective of a fellow student who has experience navigating their identities and Support in that navigation.
Note: The GPS Program is not intended to take the place of professional counseling, but rather to be a supplemental or alternative option for students seeking assistance with navigating LGBTQ+ identities.
How does the GPS Program work?
Students requesting GPS simply need to fill out a confidential online request form. From there, the GPS Coordinators will match the requestor with a trained GPS team member. The requestor and GPS team member can then quickly arrange a place and time to meet that works for both of them, including evenings and weekends. Students who meet with a GPS team member are also asked to complete a confidential survey so that we can continually assess and improve the program.
Note: This program is only available for University of Michigan undergraduate and graduate students.
Who is GPS best suited for?
GPS is best suited for students who are navigating their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression and would find it helpful to discuss their experiences with another student.
What are particular features of this program that make it helpful?
- The pairing of students: Often, students can relate to each other in a way that students and non-students simply can't. Research also shows that peer support programs are highly effective.
- The pairing of people who have shared identities or backgrounds : Often, a major contributing factor to depression or anxiety for an LGBT person struggling with coming out is a feeling of isolation. This is particularly true for LGBT people of color, people of faith, and those in traditionally less-welcoming communities such as Athletics, Greek Life, and some STEM fields. With the GPS program, we have the ability to pair a student with another student who has come out in similar circumstances, thereby providing an increase in support and understanding and a decrease in feelings of isolation.
- The flexible nature of the program with regard to scheduling: Unlike support groups which require a consistent time commitment, the GPS Program is highly flexible and can be started at any time during the school year. Once a GPS requestor is paired with a GPS mentor, they can quickly arrange a place and time to meet that works for both of them, including evenings and weekends. The pair can meet as often as needed for as long as desired based on the needs and availability of each person. This could mean they only meet once, or it could mean that they meet weekly for a whole semester.
- The ability to meet away from the Spectrum Center or outside of an LGBT group : Students who are closeted or who are uncomfortable with their sexual orientation or gender identity may find the prospect of entering the Spectrum Center or attending an LGBT student group meeting to be too risky or intimidating. Some may fear being seen by others and being identified as LGBT, some may not be ready to be around a group of LGBT people, and some just might not be able to make it to the Center during office hours. The GPS Program gives these students the ability to meet with an understanding peer in a casual and non-intimidating environment and at a time that is convenient for them.
If you are interested in being a part of the GPS team as a mentor, please fill out this application. GPS is always looking for new and excited members to join our team!