Coming out essentially means letting people around you know that you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or genderqueer. I genuinely wish that we lived in a society that did not require anyone to “come out” because of their sexuality. The shame, stigma, and hate surrounding queerness make coming out a deeply terrifying experience. The fear of being judged or disowned has so many people living lives that aren’t true to who they are.
As much as it is difficult to be honest about your sexuality, it’s also liberating to know that you no longer have to hide parts of yourself. It’s like a re-birth and a re-introduction of who you are. This one decision empowers you to continually stand up for yourself and others like you. You don’t know how you’ll be received but the fact that you’re willing to come out is an act of bravery. One you should always be proud of.
Is there a right way of doing it? Well, everyone’s coming out is different. In some cases, the family and friends already know that someone is queer so they just confirm it. In others, it comes as a shock and may elicit strong emotions. Others don’t care in the least bit. So, there is no right or wrong way to come out but there are a few things you can do as you prepare to take the plunge. Let’s go through them.
- You don’t have to come out if you don’t feel ready and safe to do so. You need to be emotionally prepared because it’s not an easy process. Do it when you feel prepared to deal with the outcome and response. Don’t cave into the pressure just because someone else may have come out. Do it in your own time. You’ll know when you’re ready.
- Prepare for any response. It could go really well or really badly and you need to be ready for the aftermath. Not everyone will accept you or agree with you depending on their attitudes and beliefs. You may lose friends and family or you may gain more support from them. It’s a 50/50 chance. Go into it knowing that your relationships could change forever.
- Coming out doesn’t have to be a single event. You can slowly give clues to ease people into it. Treat it like an ongoing process rather than a monumental occurrence. Leave trails of your identity for people to piece together then be ready to answer questions when they pick up on your breadcrumbs.
- Find an appropriate person to come out to first. Think of who would be most accepting and understanding. This is someone open-minded, has gone through the same process or is an LGBTQ+ ally. They can offer you support and advice on the best way to tell the rest of your family. It’s probably not a good idea to tell everyone at the same time.
- Decide on how much information you’re willing to share. You don’t have to come out as gay, lesbian, or transgender if you’re still trying to figure out or explore your sexuality. Don’t feel the pressure to label yourself. It’s also best if you’re educated on sexuality or armed with facts in case your people need more understanding or have too many questions.
Finally, remember that not everyone deserves or needs to know about your sexuality so don’t feel obligated to let them know – especially at work. If you’re planning to come out, kindly prioritize your mental wellbeing through self-care because it can take a toll on you. Pace yourself and do things in your own time. There are LGBTQ+ people in every religion and every community – find them. Surround yourself with queer joy.
It helps to talk about being LGBTQ+ to someone who understands before you can tell everyone else. We are here to extend that safe space through affirmative therapy. We will guide you through the journey of addressing and embracing your sexual identity while equipping you with the right set of skills to thrive as queer. Your thoughts, questions, and opinions are safe with us. Call us today to schedule your first therapy session.