Tips for Coming Out

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Tips for coming out

On the 11th October, are you?




We have all seen and heard of moving coming out stories, of families rejoicing at the news of their child revealing their true identity, though it may be true for some, for many, it is one of the scariest experiences of their lives. The fear of hurting the ones we love the most by sharing something personal to us and changing the way people to see us. Though it is scary, many of us know that living our true lives and being honest with those that matter to us is important, so with a little planning, you can make the whole process a lot less daunting.


With National Coming Out day coming up, there will be people around the world taking the opportunity to tell those closest to them, something deeply personal and that has likely taken them time to come to terms with and accept. Whether you are the person ‘coming out’ or the person who is being told, it will likely be a scary and pivotal moment for many in their lives.
If you are the person being told, remember that most people do not come out to just anyone, you are important to that person. People only tell those that matter the most to them, their loved ones, friends and family, those individual’s that have the biggest impact within that person’s life. If someone close to you has the courage to share this part of their life, no matter how difficult, try to keep an open mind. It is okay to acknowledge how you feel, and you do not have to pretend, but give yourself time and try not to say something you may later come to regret. This person is likely important to you; they want you to know the real them, they have not been lying to you, they have just been trying to come to terms with it in their own way. They are still the same person, and this is only one part of what makes them, them.
If you are the person coming out, I know it is scary, and you likely have many concerns, but you know these people. You have known them all your life, they are important to you, and you are important to them. They might be shocked, hurt, even angry, but remember this is a journey, one that ultimately will mean you can share your truth, the part of you that you have kept secret for so long.
To hopefully help, we have compiled a number of honest and practical tips; however, the most important thing to keep in mind and remember is why you are doing this – for those that matter to know the real you.
YOUR STORY TO TELL

Congratulations, the hardest part is being honest with yourself. Many spend a lifetime trying to come to terms with their gender, sexual identity or both. The fact that you want to come out means that you know the real you. Coming out is a personal experience, and no one should be forcing you to reveal who you are to your loved ones. It is your story to tell, so tell it when you and only you are ready. Not only that, but everyone’s experience will be unique, though there are similarities between coming out stories, ultimately it is your friends and family that are the unique part of your coming out journey.

You likely have doubts, which is healthy and of course, it is easy to decide not to come out, which is your choice, but ask yourself what it will do to you if you do not?

PLANNING FOR THE REVEAL

The first part is deciding who you want to tell and when. These are the people you know well, so try to think through how they might react and the best way to handle them. It is easy to imagine the worst-case scenario, but what if you took yourself out of the situation. Do your friends or family know others that identify as LGBTQ+? How have they reacted when they have heard important news in the past? Even if past situations were negative, it does not mean that they will respond to you in a similar way. These are the people that love you the most, they might be shocked or hurt, but remember you are telling them for a reason, they are important to you, and you are important to them.

When coming out, it is also essential never to do it in anger or to hurt those around you. Even if you are angry at a specific situation, leave and come back when things have cooled down. If you come out in anger, you have to think what message it portrays to those around you, most likely that something personal and real to you is seen as a negative.

When telling those closest to you, if someone is hot-tempered and may react negatively, then announcing in a group or even through a letter or email could be one of many approaches you could adopt. Their reaction might be something they later regret, so approaching it the right way, could help avoid embarrassment. Always have a plan B, if people need space if it all gets a little heated is there somewhere you can stay overnight? Though some of the initial reactions might be negative, it is likely the shock of the situation, give them time, and they will come around.

START OF THE JOURNEY

When you are coming out, think of it more like the start of a journey. Though many may have suspicions about you, having you confirm those suspicions can be upsetting. It might rock the core of their beliefs, feel like they do not know you and even that you have lied to them. The reality is that you are still the same person you have always been, and nothing has changed. Understand that it might have taken you years to come to terms with who you are; you cannot expect everyone to be fully supportive immediately.

People on hearing important news go through a whole range of emotions, try not to take it personally; it is likely just their way of coping. In the unlikely scenario that the situation becomes violent or aggressive, get out safely. People will need to cool down, and your personal safety is a priority.

Remember when you come out, you have not reached your final destination, you are just starting the journey with those around you, so try to have empathy and be patient. If you are feeling nervous, tell someone close to you, someone who you believe can support you. Once you have come out to one person, it becomes easier.

SET THE TONE

It is your story to tell, so set the tone. If you treat the news of coming out as a negative, then others will likely respond to it in a similar way. You are being honest with those you love, and you are sharing the real you, so use positive and reaffirming language such as “I am still me, I just want to share a part of who I am”, it can also help to explain your journey. Knowing that it has taken you time, that it was a journey, and not something that is being said on a whim, will help people understand the challenges you have faced.

For your friends and family, we fear what we do not know, so if your friends and family have limited access to members of the LGBTQ+ community, they will likely be using stereotypes as a reference – reinforce that stereotypes are not real and like in your community you have a mix of all different people. You are still you, the person that they have always known, and nothing has changed.

Allow them to ask questions and prepare a list of resources they can visit for more information. There are many fantastic resources online and groups where they can get support and speak to people in similar situations.

GET SUPPORT

The idea of coming out is likely daunting and scary, and you may even have run numerous scenarios around in your head, trust in what you know about those closest to you and do not let the fear overcome you. Read other coming out stories for ideas and approaches you could adopt and get support, whether it is from someone that you know you can trust or from the many amazing online resources.

You are not alone; there are millions of people, from different races, religions, social-economic groups that have come out to friends and family. They all likely went through the same emotions as you, but they got through it, and now they are living a life where they are honest with themselves. There is a risk that some may never accept who you are, but those that matter, those that love you will likely come around over time.

You are brave, and your sexual or gender identity is part of what makes you, you, but is not what defines you. I wish you the best of luck and hope that all goes to plan for you

KEY RESOURCES


Stonewall - Guidance

PFLAG
Human Rights Campaign
Interesting articles on LGBTQ and Religion (under Religion and Faith)
Trevor Project - Coming out as you


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ATILLA

Learn more about the author
Atilla is passionate about writing and has spent his career writing technical documentation within large corporations. It was a career break in 2016, that gave him the opportunity to create his first fictional book, Cypriana. A well-travelled individual, visiting over 50 countries, has provided him with opportunities to not only have a wealth of experiences, but to also observe a broad range of characters, and personalities

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