I’d like to talk about coming out and what to expect from it, giving all of us some suggestions and tips.
Coming out can be very easy for some of us and, sometimes, these people regret that they haven’t done it soon; for others it can be hard, or they live in a homophobic environment so they are more worried about it.
I have written down a list of things that can be useful in this situation:
1. Don’t feel pressured. Everyone has their own timing and coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans… is all about you. Don’t feel like you need to do it just because your friend did the same or you consider it as compulsory. This leads us to the next point:
2. You don’t have to come out. For some people orientation/gender identity is something very private and they want to share it only with the closest people in their life, or they don’t even feel this need. Maybe you can go to a family dinner and bring your same sex partner with you and just introduce them “Guys, this is my significant other”. Full stop. This also leads to another issue:
3. Don’t label yourself if you’re not ready/don’t want to. You can be ready to come out but also feel like you don’t fit into any label. Even though calling themselves ace, non binary, pansexual, or using any other term is perfectly alright, it is also okay to decide not to use any of them.
4. Consider the timing and be safe. If you are in a bad place in your life right now (for example, after a break up and you are heartbroken and miserable), if your family is having a troubled period (for any reason), if you’re not economically independent yet and you need your parent’s help (to get through college, for example), or if you are in any other situation in which coming out will make you less safe… don’t do it. Wait for the right time and place, your safety comes first.
5. Be realistic and anticipate people’s reactions. Everyone of us hope in the best outcome possible, of course, and people can surprise us but… let’s be realistic. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I mean, be prepared with what you’re going to say and how you’re going to respond to their reactions. We know our family members and friends better than many others, so we are also able anticipate their reactions about our coming out. That implies also:
6. Allow people to be shocked and give them time. We had so many years, an entire life sometimes, to get used to it. You being gay or trans, for example, is not a bad thing, of course, but your family and friends can be shocked at first. So you need to prepare yourself to answer their questions, tell them that you’re still the same person you were till that moment, try to keep calm even if others are not and stay in control of the news.
7. Read some coming out stories. You can find useful reading about other people with similar experiences. RuComingOut has a section that collects these stories - I've found this site - but internet is an amazing place so I’m sure you can find many others, too.
8. Choose how to do it according to your own style. Some of us are very outgoing and expressive, others are more shy. You can bake a “Hey, I’m gay” cake and enter the room with an explosion of rainbow confetti, or just opt for a letter so you don’t have to tell it out loud. Every way is good as long as you feel comfortable.
9. Tell one person at first. Talking to a very trusted person can be easier and it can offer you a safe place: you can bring them with you if you decide to come out to your parents, for example, and you can always find a “home” with them.
10. Family approval is not required. Even though we all want to be accepted and loved for who we are, sometimes family can disappoint us in this situation. But you are you and this is amazing. You don’t need your family’s permission to be who you are.
I really wish you all the best, my awesome yous, for your coming out (or non coming out )!