Coming out can be intimidating for anyone, even if you have a supportive and open-minded family. Many of our members at GUTF tell us this is a big issue they struggle with, and some have asked for help with how to share the news with their own families.
“Coming out” means having an understanding of your own sexual orientation or gender identity, and then deciding to reveal it to some or all of the people in your life. While the coming out process looks different for everyone, it’s not uncommon for many LGBTQIA+ people to come out only to themselves, and not share that information with anyone else.
It’s up to you to decide what is right for you and what is best for your current situation. Coming out is an intensely personal decision, and you are in charge of if, when, and how you do it. If you feel like you’re ready and that it is safe to come out to your family and friends, we’ve found some advice from various experts on how to help the process.
Talking to other LGBTQIA people: Ask them what they went through, and listen to advice they might have on how to share this important information with the people around you. When you come out, you don’t have to tell everyone at once. Start with people you trust to treat you with acceptance and patience.
Finding adults you trust, like a teacher, counselor, social worker, or family friend that you feel comfortable coming out to can help you warm up to the idea of coming out to more people, and they might be able to support you in deciding when the time is right for you to come out.
Taking your time: Many people, particularly teens, may find that their gender and sexuality can change. You may need a while to really figure out who you are, and understand the nuances of your own sexual orientation and gender identity. And then just as you feel you understand it, it might shift. People are complex and beautiful...and so are you! The potential fluidity of sexual orientation and gender identity can complicate matters as you seek to come out to your inner and outer circle.
There’s no right way to come out: What matters is that it feels right to you. But if you’re in an unsafe situation, and/or you live with or depend on your parents/guardians for financial support and are afraid that telling them might get you kicked out, you may want to consider waiting to tell them until you’re able to be more independent. There’s no shame in this. You need to keep yourself safe and the timing of when you come out is your decision.
If you have reason to believe that someone you want to come out to may react poorly, spend some time strategically thinking of how you’ll deal with it. Talk about it with someone you trust and ask them to help you plan your response. You may decide that you would rather write an email or letter instead of having a face-to-face conversation with the person. And if someone you have come out to doesn’t react well, don’t panic. Some people need time to absorb the news and get used to it.
What you should never have to deal with is abuse or hatred. Transphobia, biphobia and homophobia (fear and hatred of LGBTQIA people) are sad realities in our world. If you experience it, please know that you are not alone and there are support systems available for you. If someone reacts with hatred, it’s about them, not you. Please consider contacting The Trevor Project if you need support. Their trained counselors are here to support you 24/7. If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.
We at Give Us The Floor firmly believe that love is love, and that you deserve to live your life authentically. We hope these tips will help you.