Whether coming out to parents, coming out to friends, or coming out to strangers, the process can seem daunting. Oftentimes the coming out stories that circulate most are the horror stories of kids being kicked out of their homes or disowned by their relatives. But coming out of the closet isn’t always as hard as it may seem. For every horror story, there’s another story of heartfelt acceptance, and I’m inclined to believe the latter is much more common than the former. If you're planning on coming out to someone, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Don’t Come Out If You Aren’t Ready
You don’t owe it to anybody to come out and share personal details about your life, especially if you’re still struggling to accept them yourself or aren’t sure how someone will react to the news. It’s your private life, and if you want to keep it private, you have no obligation to share it with the world.
It may be easier to come out to an acquaintance or new friend than it is to come out to the more important people in your life. If you’re worried about someone close to you judging you for being gay, practice and prepare yourself by spilling the news to someone whose opinion doesn’t play as crucial a role in your life. Worst case scenario, you’ll lose someone you won’t miss too much, and best case scenario, you’ll have a few friends to support you when you do decide to come out to others.
Coming out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual may seem like a big deal, but there’s a good chance you’re psyching yourself out. Fortunately, we live in a time where more and more people are accepting of individuals in the LGBT+ community. Most people won’t even bat an eyelash when you come out to them, and if you have these people on your side, they’ll make for a great support system when you do face backlash because of your sexuality.
While most people you come out to may not see your sexuality as a big deal, there may be others who will see you differently and have a hard time coming to terms with it. Often times these people are close, older, relatives. But just because coming out to them isn’t smooth sailing at first, it doesn’t mean that they won’t ever come around. Sometimes people need time to think and process. If they truly care about you, they’ll support you, even if they don’t necessarily “agree” with your “lifestyle.”
However, this doesn’t mean that you should tolerate homophobic behavior from these people after you come out, and you can’t wait on them forever. Sometimes people are rooted in their beliefs and refuse to change their minds about how they view homosexuality or anyone who isn’t heterosexual. While it may be difficult, it may be best to cut these people out of your life or limit your interactions with them. Surrounding yourself with positivity and eliminating negativity in your life is always the best decision.
Choose the Right Time
There’s never a perfect time to come out, and if you keep waiting for that elusive right moment, it’s never going to arrive. However, there are bad times to come out of the closet. If you’re coming out to someone you’re dependent on, like a parent or guardian, and you believe they may react negatively and take extreme measures such as kicking you out of the house or cutting off funding for your apartment or college tuition, make sure you have the means to support yourself financially before you talk to them. Coming out isn’t worth being put in a position of homelessness or financial insecurity. You have to take care of your needs first, even if it means sidelining your wants.