LGBTQIAS+ Coaches help in the Coming Out process
January 6, 2021
By Jameela Hammond
The Coming Out Coaches, Vanessa Klaas and Lucie Petrelis, a lesbian couple, felt the void that something was missing long before being dubbed “The Coming Out Coaches.” Their combined journeys inspired them to provide support through one-on-one or group coaching to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Straight Ally (LGBTQIAS+) individuals and people in close proximity, to live a happy and fulfilling life by being true to themselves. Coincidentally, they don’t believe in boundaries. Rather, they explain that they will continue to use “LGBTQIAS+” labels “until the day all are treated equally,” said Petrelis.
A glimpse from their living room window highlights the Luzern, Switzerland mountains with powdery white snow and is a subtle reminder that their message is global. Greek-native, Petrelis, emphatically explained, “we want to be international. We want to meet people until the moon.”
Understanding their purpose and using their life experience as a way to connect with their clients, is what makes having a Coming Out Coach unique. One is not alone. German-native, Klaas, came out to her parents at the age of thirty-five. The Coaches understand that loved ones need their time to process the reality of coming out just as Klaas’ family had. As noted by Klaas,
“I had all of this time to process this, but then I popped this information on them. They had to process. They needed a moment to process the information.”
Petrelis admits that her coming out experience was a bit different. She discovered she had feelings for a girl at the age of five. She had never really explored her sexuality until she was nineteen while on vacation in New York.
Each morning, they wake up striving to further the LGBTQIAS+ community. Petrelis has her challenging days, but pushes on. She has been living with multiple sclerosis since she was twenty-two years old. She had to learn how to walk and find a new sustainable profession that accommodated her condition. Having previously pursued library and archival studies, she decided to return to that profession because it was less strenuous. She prepared for her new profession while living in Greece. However, with the advent of the Greek government financial crisis, securing a job became difficult. So, she moved to Italy and then to Switzerland where she found a job as an archivist. When she went to bed at night, she felt like something was missing from her life. During this chapter of her life, she and Klaas had been together for about two years. As a couple, they made the collective decision that Petrelis should go back to school and become a life coach. So, she did. Petrelis confessed,
“This journey is something that I don’t regret, even if it was difficult. It still made me who I am today. I’m very grateful for this journey.”
As certified life coaches, they both want to inspire people by sharing their personal stories. They encourage their clients to live a life by being true to themselves and embrace the importance of self-care to be truly happy. “It’s a gesture of self-love to come out,” acknowledged Petrelis.
The Coaches use their holistic approach — connecting the mind, body and soul — so that their clients may overcome their fears that tend to prevent them from living a happy and fulfilled life. While “coming out” is a scary concept for many LGBTQIAS+, it is also the most liberating. The coming out process is what you make of it — including one's family or a smaller, more private audience. Petrelis adamantly stated,
“We never push. There are different levels of coming out. Once you’re fully out, based on your wishes, it doesn’t have to be to everybody. Then we work on self-love and self-appreciation after that... mind to the body to be fully happy.”
After their clients come out, they continue to assist them with their internal healing. Klaas, a computer science PhD, with a passion for sports and the human body is also certified in fitness and nutrition. As a result, she is the “Body & Soul” coach while Petrelis covers the “Mind & Soul” coaching for their clientele. Klaas imagined a conversation with her twenty-four year old self would be as follows, “Learn to set boundaries, not what others want from me. Take the courage and follow your feelings.”
As they assist their clients with their respective coming out processes, they fully understand how challenging the pandemic has been for relationships. Petrelis offers the following advice to couples and “throuples” (a relationship involving three people) enduring the pandemic, “Most important thing is to talk to each other about things you and your partner need. Know what you want.” Klaas added, “Listen with compassion.”
The Coming Out Coaches live by a motto, “Dare to follow your heart and live your truth.”