Let’s have a conversation on coming out. For members of the LGBT+ community, this can be the defining moment of their journey in sexuality. For others, it’s the thing that terrifies them the most.
I have had many people come to me asking if they should come out. Truth be told, I will never, ever be able to provide that answer for someone else. That is a spiritual and mental journey that one must face when they’re ready, if they feel it’s necessary. Here are a few scenarios that may be applicable to someone considering coming out.
“I’ve told my friends online, but I don’t know if I’m ready to tell people in real life. I’m afraid they may judge me.”
Firstly, if you choose to come out, it’s a really big step just having it out there to your friends, regardless of what capacity it’s in. I do encourage someone who is feeling like this to try to get a good read of the situation. How do your friends and parents in real life react to knowing that someone has a differing sexuality? Do you feel safe in your environment? If you come out, are you at risk of being hurt, abused or mistreated? Lastly, are you ready to come out?
Because it’s a spiritual journey, it’s something that many must think about for a long time. If you’re having doubts, you may just not be mentally ready to come out, and that’s okay. There is no set time where you have to come out — do so at your own comfort level and safety.
“What if my friend/spouse/family/parents disown me for feeling this way?”
We can not control the actions of other people, we can simply only control how we react to the situation at hand. That being said, if you’re outed unintentionally, or if you come out and it ends up backlashing, have some sort of backup plan. Again, I will endorse safety to no end. Make sure that you have a place to live, make sure that you are in a position that things will be okay. If things aren’t okay, find places in your area that can help make things okay.
They may try to “fix” you, and they may be angry with you, but do know that your life is yours and you don’t need their permission for your sexuality. It’s yours; what you do behind closed doors is your own.
“I don’t feel the need to come out.”
That’s okay! You don’t have to come out if you don’t want to; no one will ever expect you to come out on a whim (or, if they do, they are not the type of people you want to be hanging around). If you don’t want to come out, and you either want to keep your romantic life secret, or you want to try to surprise your friends or family, always err on the side of caution and safety. Your journey is yours; you don’t have to answer to anyone if you don’t want to.
Quick tips on coming out (if you feel you’re ready to come out):
- Make sure you’re safe.
- Consider the timing; there are right and wrong times for everything.
- Give people time to cope and process what you’ve said – don’t expect or demand immediate acceptance; it’ll blow up in a bad way.
- Don’t feel as though you need to label yourself. You are a human being, your sexuality is yours. If you don’t know what that is, that’s okay.
- Know that you’re not alone; there are several communities who will protect and fight to no end for those who may need it (including 7Cups).
Any questions about coming out or suggestions for future topics are encouraged. I am only a PM away.
From Cadie, with love.