Gay 101. How do you come out?

I was recently asked on Formspring how does one come out?

I have written on this subject many times but it is always good to revisit the subject for those of you who are new or who may have missed the article.

Coming out is an intensely personal and often difficult decision. There are many many things to consider before coming out of the closet. I was lucky enough to have had a very easy coming out experience but it is not like this for everybody. To anybody thinking about coming out I would say that it is a life changing experience and nearly always for the better. If you are thinking about coming out here are a few things to consider first.

Are you in Danger?

I raise this point first because I would never suggest that someone come out if they feel that they are in physical danger. Your safety should always come first. If you live in a family, area or culture where your physical and mental well being are at risk then I would suggest that you do your best to remove yourself from that situation first before outing yourself. Many people wait until they are self sufficient and have moved out of home in this situation. If there is the risk that you may be financially cut off then you at least have the knowledge that you can survive on your own two feet.

Build your Networks

Friends, family and people who can support you are super important at a time like this. They can offer moral support and a safe place for you to go. Be selective who you tell at first. Is there somebody you can trust? Being able to share the experience with a  friend can make all the difference. Nobody deserves to be alone. Don’t allow your coming out to isolate you from the people that are important to you. Remember true friends will love you for who you are and not who they think you should be.

Leave the Boyfriend out of it for now.

When you tell your parents they will have questions and want to talk about it with you. Leave the boyfriend out of it for now. Allow them some time to be on their own with you. This is a time that needs to be just about you and them. Springing the boyfriend on them during Aunty Ethel’s 60th Birthday party is not a good idea. They will already have a lot to process without the added pressure of accepting a third party. Keep him close by for support if you need it.

Don’t let it become a confrontation.

Remember that coming out is as much an experience for you as it is for the person you are telling. Don’t get defensive when they ask questions. Mostly they will be trying to understand it. They may be a little surprised or shocked but remember that if you allow it to escalate in to a fight then it will be very difficult to talk about it openly. Let your Parents or friends ask the uncomfortable questions. Answer honestly and then give them some time to process what they have learned. If they do get angry remember to stay calm. Leave the situation and comeback later when cooler heads can prevail.

Always remember you are fucking awesome!

It may seem like coming out is a very daunting experience and it would be irresponsible of me to paint it all as sunshine and lollipops. Some people have an amazing coming out experience and others have an awful one. Always remember though that there is nobody in the world who is more deserving of being able to live a happy safe life, that is true to who they are than YOU. There is nobody more deserving of love and friendship than YOU. You are already awesome and the people who truly appreciate you for who you are will be your true friends.

Never let your sexuality make you feel undeserving, dirty, evil, or anything other than the beautiful person you are.

There is a world out there that embraces difference and diversity, where the things that make you unique are the things that people will love about you. Don’t ever apologise for being your own person.




5 thoughts on “Gay 101. How do you come out?

  • July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Well spelt out, and good advice. You are tucking awsome..

  • July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Well spelt out & good advice, ” you are tucking awsome”

  • July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    You are certainly pretty ‘fucking awesome’ yourself Shannon! Good and wise advise to a difficult cross road in one’s life.

  • July 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    I agree with Shannon… don’t do it if you feel like you are in physical danger. And that there is somebody out there who appreciates you for who you are. In my life, There is no ONE way to “Come Out.” I came out to two of my best friends in sophomore year at university/college. I was so scared that the world would start spinning backwards. Nothing changed and that was a relief.
    If you can, come out to somebody “safe” first. Like a person who you know who is gay. Or a person who is tolerant. Honestly, that’s what I did. My two college buddies were the first time that I didn’t know what would happen.

  • August 8, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I would add one more point, don’t take their initial reaction as their final reaction. You are springing something new on them, and it may take them some time to figure out how this new information fits into their (and your) life. Allow for some initial shock and some getting over it time.

    Next, not everyone needs to know. For some people, actually many, it is simply none of their business. On one hand, you don’t have to flaunt it, but on the other hand you don’t need to hide it. For people close to you, you cheat both yourself and them by not being who you are.

    Again, as Shannon and others advise, you need to choose wisely. If you are (sort of) friends with the school bully, then it is probably very wise to wait until you have a large support circle before he finds out.

    Take it all in stages. Coming out is something of a life long process. The first person you have to come out to, and the first person that has to be comfortable with it is YOU.

    It is a complex and stressful process. As mentioned you have to take due consideration for your safety, and expect to lose some friends. But the friends you lose were not really your friends, and likely, in the slightly longer run, you will gain many new friends with whom you can be honest and open.


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