What is “coming out”?
Coming out is a life long process of understanding, accepting, and acknowledging your identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex , queer (LGBTIQ) or a combination of these identities. 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. Because we live in a society that assumes that everyone is straight as well as gender and sex conforming, a LGBTIQ person is never done coming out. Coming out is NOT “flaunting.” Instead, it is simply making people aware of an important part of you.
When should I come out?
When you are ready
Coming out is a personal thing and a very big step, Don’t ever feel pressured to come out before you are ready. The most important thing is to make sure that you will be safe and supported. Only come out when you know you have enough support from people around you such as friends, family or teachers.
Why come out?
First off, to be true to yourself and your feelings, as well as Letting your friends and family meet the “real” you. Also when you aren’t out there can be a lot of fear about somebody finding out about your sexuality, coming out gets rid of that fear as you get the chance to tell people yourself, in your own way. As well as this coming out lets others know that LGBTIQ people exist around them as we are to a large extent an “invisible minority” in a society that often assume that everyone is straight as well as gender and sex conforming.
Who should I come out to?
You don’t have to come out to everyone at once. Start with the people who you trust and are close to, then come out to other people in your own time. It’s ok to be more ‘out’ in some places than others, it’s your choice as to who you come out to.
Some ways to come out
Taking someone aside and talking to them
Before taking somebody aside you might want to ask yourself do you trust this person? Is this person open minded and not likely to be shocked or put off? This person may be a friend, family member or teacher. When telling somebody be sure that neither of you are in a hurry, emotionally distraught or otherwise distracted.
Write a letter
This is a good way to let the person you are coming out to have their own time to react in their own way. Writing a letter allows you to take your time and compose all the thoughts in your head so that you can say what you want to say carefully and clearly. If you are expecting a hostile or negative reaction this may be a good way for the person you are telling to react and consider the news before discussing it with you
What not to do
- Don’t come out during an argument as emotions may be running high and you or the other person may say or do things that they do not mean. Using your sexuality as a weapon to hurt or shock someone will only make things worse.
- Don’t come out while under the influence of drugs or alcohol it is better to be able to think clearly.
- If you are still financially dependent on your Parents and think they will react negatively you might want to delay coming out to them until you can support yourself
Coming out to others
Remember: It is important to give people time to process the information. Just like it may have taken you some time (maybe years) to get used to your sexuality it may take them a little time as well. Make sure you remind them that you are still the person you were yesterday.
It is also a good idea to be prepared to answer questions that people may ask you.Ssome people don’t understand and it could be your chance to teach them. Here are some things people may say to you and some answers you might want to give
- How do you know you are gay?
You may want to say– “how do you know you are straight? Just like straight people know they are straight, I know I am gay”
- It’s just a phase/ it’s a choice that many people your age go through.
You may want to say– “my sexuality is not a phase or a choice. After all you didn’t choose to be straight.”
- Being gay is wrong
You may want to say- “Our sexuality is a natural part of us just like the colour of our eyes or skin. We cannot change it nor should we have to.”
Coming out tips
- Don’t let anyone pressure you into ‘coming out’
- Only tell someone if you have enough support to cope with their reaction
- Think about what you want to say and choose the time and place carefully
- Be aware of what the other person is going through as well, ( are the stressed or upset?) a good time for you may not be a good time for them.
- Some people may never accept your sexuality, in these cases its may be worthwhile evaluating how much this relationship is worth.
- Think about how the other person may react if you think that there might be a negative reaction perhaps you should take someone you trust with you. NEVER PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER.
- If you are feeling anxiety or a depressed or feel guilty about the prospect of coming out, you may want to consider getting professional support first from a counsellor or a support phoneline.
- Remember that it is fine to be more ‘out’ in some places than others and to come out to different people in a various ways.
- Explain why you are coming out so that they can understand why this is important to you
- Be prepared that once you start to tell people, others might find out pretty quickly
- Remember to listen to what the person you are coming out to has to say also.
- Give people time to get used to the idea, after all you gave yourself time to get use to it
- MOST IMPORTANTLY CELEBRATE YOUR COMING OUT- IT IS A HUGE STEP!