No matter if you are coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, or anything else, the process of ‘coming out of the closet’ can be nerve racking and extremely stressful.
There is absolutely no rush to come out and it’s okay to change your self-identification multiple times! You learn more about yourself every day and are an ever-evolving person, so changing the labels you choose is 100% valid. It’s also 100% valid to not want labels or be in between labels!
Your safety comes first, so being prepared is the most important part of the coming out process.
Are You Ready?
Being confident in who you are and why you are coming out is the first step of the process. It is completely okay if you want to wait longer and come out when you are older or have moved out of your parent’s house.
Your life, your timeline. Some people come out in high school and others come out well into their 50s! No one is rushing you and it is always an option to only come out to select people.
Picking a few people that you feel comfortable with and coming out to only them is okay! You can always ask them to keep it between the group and not talk about it to others. You can also choose to only tell individual people, such as supportive teachers or close friends. Coming out to someone who is already publicly out can be an easy first step.
It’s all about what makes YOU feel comfortable and confident!
Is Your Environment Safe?
Having a safe place to live is important for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Test the waters to find out how someone feels about the LGBTQ+ community if you feel unsure about their stance. You can do this by sending them articles, asking them questions, or even telling them a made-up story such as the following:
“Hey Mom! One of my friends came out as lesbian today to our friend group and we are so excited for her! I feel really special to be a part of such a big moment for her. Do you know how I could show support?”
Stories and questions like this are an easy way to see how they will react to others coming out and could help you become more confident about telling them.
You can do this directly, written, or digitally, whatever makes you feel safer!
Having a Backup Plan
Sometimes, things just don’t go the way they should. There are still some people who believe that being LGBTQ+ is wrong and will not support the community. Not being cisgender and straight is not wrong! You are who you are and that is beautiful!
Being prepared for a bad outcome will hopefully become less of a problem with the upcoming generations, but for now, having a plan could save you more than just a headache.
Having a plan can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I trust this person has my wellbeing as a priority?
- Do I know that this person will not mentally or physically abuse me after I tell them?
- Do I have a safe place to go if I need to leave?
- Do I have the means to get to that safe place?
- Do I have someone I can talk to afterwards?
- Am I ready for this?
Keep your head up if things go poorly and know that you can always find support! You are so loved!
Remember that it may be a new concept to them, and some people just need time. If they react somewhat negatively or neutrally, give them some time to think about it and revisit the discussion when you feel comfortable.
It’s important for them to understand that you are more important than any grudges or disagreements they may have regarding sexuality. Each generation steps out of the last generation’s idea of being perfect more and more as time goes on. Hairstyles and clothing style change every year, just like society’s values and viewpoints.
Finding a Support Community
There are groups all around the world who are dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and they are here for you!
A support community looks different for everyone. They can range from a group of school friends to an online community through social media. Each one is meaningful and useful for before, during, and after you come out.
Reach out to new community and find one that fits you!
It’s healthy to have someone to talk to! Friends or teachers can be great listeners and will help you find a community to further support you. A therapist can help you, as well, and therapy is helpful no matter what is going on in your life. Talking to someone about your problems is taking weight off your shoulders and will make you feel much better in the long run.
If you ever need housing or other living necessities, search for LGBTQ+ youth support organizations in your area and they are more than willing to help anyone out who is in a touch situation. There is no shame in asking for help.
Always Be You!
Know that you are loved and valued for who you are! You have a huge support network through the LGBTQ+ community and can always find a helping hand!
Here are some additional resources for you!
Find the right label (if you want one) with this LGBTQ+ LGBTQ+ glossary of terms from HRC!
Check out the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to learn more.
You. Are. So. Loved.