Coming out can be difficult and terrifying, it isn’t as simple as it’s made out to be in the media. It’s shown that coming out is a one-time thing where suddenly everyone knows, but it’s a life-long event. From trying to figure out the right time, to preparing for reactions, and continuously coming out to different people, coming out is complex.
The first priority when coming out is safety. One should be aware of dangers when coming out in a non-accepting community, or to family who isn’t accepting; it may not be the best option to come out until the circumstances change. On the other hand, if safety isn’t an issue, then feel free. But still be prepared for whatever may happen. Also, be prepared to answer questions anyone may have. Remember that if a question is uncomfortable to answer, don’t feel pressured to do so.
A good rule of thumb is to come out to the most accepting people first, such as a close friend. Then work up to the people who may not be as accepting, such as parents. Don’t rush into anything; there is no need to force yourself to tell anyone. No one is owed an explanation. If it doesn’t feel right to tell someone, then there is no need to.
There are many different ways to come out to someone: write a letter, make a phone call, talk face to face, etcetera. Choose the option that will work best in the situation. No matter which option is chosen, make sure it’s at a good time. The person who is told shouldn’t be busy or in a rush. If they’re in a bad mood, this may cause them to react negatively even if they don’t mean to. It’s necessary to have time to talk them properly and give them time to process the information. When coming out to someone face to face, try to be alone with them. Ensure that there is more than one exit in the space, so leaving the situation easily is an option.
Be prepared for any reaction. When coming out to parents or guardians, have somewhere else to go and someone to confide in. This way if safety is a concern afterwards, leaving is a choice. Once again, emotional and physical safety over all else. Although preparedness for negative reactions is key, hope for positive reactions as well.
Remember, everything takes time. If someone reacts negatively, give them some time to process and they may come around. People can’t understand things overnight. It may be difficult at first, but things will get better.
Local support resources:
Qmunity support services for LGBTQ+ youth
Vancouver Covenant House community support services
Photo credit to lifehacker.com