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#2 Way to Make Things Better: Come Out

If you’re looking to improve your social environment, come out.

I’m not just talking about revealing your sexual orientation, although clearly that applies. If you’re a member of a religious minority, let it be known. If you have an unusual political stance, share it. The results can not only free up your interpersonal relationships, but also have the potential to liberate communities from prejudice.

As Gordon Allport stated in the 1950s and as subsequent research has borne out, prejudices held by one group against members of another group tend to decrease when the two groups have explicit social contact with one another. The effect increases among those who are most intimately connected to one another — but it can’t be activated if your friend, your family member or your lover doesn’t know about you. So not only for the sake of your own personal integrity but for the sake of human progress toward a less irrationally antagonistic world, find someone you know well, someone you trust and care about, and tell them who you are.

To learn more about this effect in social relations, and how it can be harnessed in other ways to reduce irrational conflict, read this article by Peace Players International: http://peaceplayersintl.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/examining-the-contact-hypothesis/

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