How To Come Out
How to Come Out - Your Guide to the Closet, and Whether or Not It's Time to Leave it Behind
For non-cisgender and non-heterosexual folks, 'coming out' is an almost universal experience. While coming out isn't always a part of everyone's personal experience with their gender identity or sexuality, chances are you know someone who it does apply to. You may also be familiar with an outing story, in which a person's sexuality or gender identity was revealed without their consent. All of these things are a part of the complex and varied process of coming out.
Coming out of the closet, which is usually described as a journey, entails admitting your sexual or gender identity to others. Coming out can be a very delicate, frightening, and personal process, yet many LGBTQ+ persons report feeling considerably better about themselves after doing so.
Coming out is becoming a less fraught process as many countries throughout the world move toward decriminalising homosexuality, legalising gay marriage, and enacting legal rights against discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons. Coming out is becoming less prevalent than it used to be, with more young people than ever identifying as not-straight and not-cisgender. This does not mean that more individuals are becoming LGBTQ+ or that coming out is no longer essential; rather, it means that it is becoming safer for LGBTQ+ persons to identify without fear of persecution.
Coming out has no age limit: it's never too late to affirm your gender identity or sexuality for yourself, whether you're 14 or 45. We've included some recommendations on what to think about before coming out, as well as how to do it in style if you're ready.
What exactly is 'coming out'?
LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall describes coming out in the following way:
'Coming out' refers to telling someone something about oneself that isn't readily apparent. In terms of sexual orientation and gender identity, this is telling others that you are a lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender person (LGBT). Coming out can be a very personal experience for each person, and it may take some time to feel comfortable and confident enough to have those conversations with others.
Coming out is a profoundly individual choice. You should never feel obligated to come out or that you have to tell someone about your sexuality or gender identity unless you want to.
Coming out does not invalidate your sexuality or gender identity, and it does not prevent you from being a member of the LGBTQ+ community. You are the only one who can decide what kind of relationship you have with your gender identity and sexuality, and how that relationship will affect the way you live your life.
Always remember that you are the only one who can decide what your sexual and gender identity is!
Am I ready to come out?
Coming out has a significant impact on one's life. Coming out is an empowering and settling event for many LGBTQ+ people. It doesn't necessarily mean things will change for the better or for the worse.
The first person to whom you must come out is yourself. You'll have to conduct some soul-searching and decide on the title that best describes your sexuality and/or gender identity. If you're stuck or don't know where to begin, try typing your anxieties into a search engine, such as "I think I could be gay." There are numerous charities, such as Stonewall, as well as other health resource groups, that have reassuring things to say.
Every day, a large number of people doubt their sexualities and gender identities, so keep in mind that you are not alone.
It's vital to be honest with yourself, but you're under no obligation to take on a label or come out right away if you're having trouble coming to terms with your sentiments. While some people come out when they're young and continue with that name for the rest of their lives, sexuality and gender are flexible concepts, so the term that feels right for you may change over time. This is very natural and acceptable.
Finally, how you name your gender or sexuality is a personal choice, and you must be comfortable with it before moving on to the next step in your coming out journey.
Is it safe for me to come out?
The next stage is to come out to someone else once you've established your gender identity or sexuality.
Being secure in your gender identity or sexuality in this context does not imply that you've sorted everything out or that you have all the answers. It just implies you've determined you're okay with a non-heterosexual or cisgender identity.
Coming out as a teen or a teenager can be more difficult than coming out as an adult. When you're younger, you can suffer bullying at school or a lack of support from your parents, which can make your house a very unhappy or dangerous place to be.
When you come out as an adult, you might be worried about prejudice at work or when looking for a place to rent. Many countries have laws protecting certain items, but it may not be enough to make you feel safe.
You want to make sure you have safety and support when you come out, regardless of your age. Choose a friend or loved one who you believe will be helpful, and communicate with them in whatever way feels most natural to you (it could be by text, by message, or in person).
When coming out to someone for the first time, many people experience a range of emotions: excitement, nervousness, and a combination of both. Similarly, many people have diverse reactions when someone comes out to them: some people may not be surprised by what you say, while others may require some alone time to process their feelings.
All these feelings and reactions are okay.
Okay, I'm ready, how do I come out?
You've concluded that your neighbourhood is secure. You have a couple of allies on your side who are eager to help you on your quest. You're all set to emerge. So, what's next?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer, because no two people have the same coming-out story. It's great if you do it in a way that feels natural to you, as if it suits and represents your personality.
A lot of people choose to come out on a broader scale (after confiding in those closest to them) on social media. Try...
- Posting a picture or gif celebrating your identity
- Posting a picture of yourself wearing a T-shirt that states your identity
- Posting a picture of a hand-written note talking about your identity
Some other fun methods you can try include...
- Baking a sweet treat and decorating it to declare your identity
- Delivering a hand-made card declaring your identity
- Issue an announcement card letting all your friends know your identity
- Asking a friend, you trust to record a video with you about your identity
There are plenty of others, and they are all good options.
However, when it comes to coming out, the most important thing is to do so in a way that makes you feel safe and comfortable. There's no need to come out if you're not ready. You are not a fake if you do not come out.
There will never be an ideal time to come out, but if you put your support structures in place now, you'll be ready when the time comes.
You may be besieged with queries about how long you've known each other and whether or not you're in a relationship after coming out. People will be interested, but ideally well-intentioned and eager to help. Just keep in mind that you are not obligated to answer any or all of the questions that are posed to you.
Come out on your agenda only, and live your best life!