Tips for Coming Out
By: Anika In’t Hout
When we talk about Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community, we can’t not talk about coming out. Coming out of the closet, also known as telling people about your LGBTQ+ identity, is a huge milestone for any member of the LGBTQ+ community.
When people hear the words “coming out,” it’s often seen as this one time thing where you come out of the closet and tell everybody who you are. When you see a character come out on TV, they will often shout it out from the rooftop, letting the whole world know they’re part of the LGBTQ+ community.
But in real life, it’s a little different. It’s often not just this thing you do once and you’re done. There really is no one way to come out, you have to do what’s right for you. So no matter how you identify- trans, non-binary, lesbian, pan, ace - your coming out journey is entirely on your terms. Chances are, my coming out story will probably look a lot different than yours. That being said, here are a few tips for coming out that might help.
Focus on self-discovery
Before you come out to others, you need to come out to yourself. So first things first, take some time to learn more about yourself.
You can do some research, take those “am I gay/bi/queer/etc.?” quizzes, talk to other people who identify with that identity, ask yourself some hard questions or even come out to yourself out loud (i.e. “I’m gay”). No matter what, come to terms with your own identity before you start sharing the news with the people in your life.
Go at your own pace
There is no rush when it comes to coming out. Only you get to decide when you come out and to who. So if you want to come out to everybody all at once - friends, family, classmates, social media followers - that’s great. If you would rather start with a friend and wait a while before coming out to your parents, that’s totally okay too. Start with the people you feel the most comfortable with and go from there. Or hey, if you don’t feel comfortable coming out to anyone just yet, that’s okay too. It’s your coming out story, you make the rules.
Safety is everything
The most important thing is your safety. It’s important to think about the idea that if you come out to a person, will you be safe with them if they know. This is especially important if you’re thinking of coming out to somebody who supports you, like a parent or guardian.
If you’re not sure if somebody is safe to come out to or not, think back on past conversations. What have they said about the LGBTQ+ community in the past? Was it positive? Negative? You can also learn about a person by seeing how they react when you share a news story about a celebrity with an identity like yours (i.e. “did you hear Demi Lovato came out as non-binary?”) or when you bring up a hypothetical situation about changing your identity (I.e. “how would you feel if I married a woman?”).
If they react in a positive way, that’s a great sign that they would probably be pretty accepting. If not though, it might not be safe to come out to them right now. If you still really want to come out to a parent or guardian but are worried you won’t feel safe, try and create a safety plan before telling them (I.e. is there someone else you could live with like a friend or relative?). Your safety is more important than anything else.
Prep for questions
Chances are, people will have questions. This is all new to them. Sometimes their questions can sting, but most of the time they mean well, they might just not know any better. So you might want to prep in advance for questions like these:
- how long have you known?
- how did you know?
- are you sure?
- what is that?
- what pronouns should I use for you?
- what can I do to help you?
Okay, so sometimes when you come out to people, they will not always react how you want them to. It’s hard, but be patient. I know when I first told my mom I was bi, it didn’t exactly go well. for a long time, she kept saying stuff like “when you finally meet your husband…” to which I kept correcting her that whoever I marry could be of any gender. It took her a while, but she did eventually come around and now says stuff like “when you and your future partner get married…”. So even if someone is not accepting at first, it is possible that with time, they will come around and accept you for who you are.
Once you come out, what comes next?
Building a support system is a great place to start. Your support system can include friends and family who are either part of the LGBTQ+ community or were supportive when you came out to them. Let these people in your life know what you need. Some examples include:
- their word that they won’t tell other people about your identity (if you don’t want to come out to others just yet)
- the space to talk things out with them about LGBTQ+ related things
- the support for big LGBTQ+ events in your life (I.e. driving you home after your top surgery, coming with you to a Pride parade, etc.)
What that looks like really depends on you and what you need.
Coming out is hard and there really isn’t one “right” path that will make it easier or more comfortable. So it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, the most important thing is accepting and loving yourself, for exactly who you are.
About the Author
Meet Anika, our content creator and copywriter! Even though it’s been a while since she had to deal with the awkwardness of buying her first bra, she is excited to join the Apricotton team and make bra shopping a little bit easier for tween and teen girls. You can connect with her here.