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‘Coming Out 101’: A Few Helpful Hints

So you think you’re ready to ‘come out’? Here’s a few tip and bits of advice.

Added to Library, on 19 July, 2015

‘Coming Out 101’: A Few Helpful Hints

‘Coming Out’ can be daunting, emotionally-tasking and hard, but it can also be the first step on a lifelong journey of self-discovery and knowing who you are.

By making the decision to come out, or even thinking about it, you’ve took a huge step forward – and you should take the time to congratulate yourself on that. No one can promise you it will be easy, but we can promise you that with the right support and a bit of knowledge, it will get better.

And remember: you’re under no obligation to come out. Your sexuality and gender identity is your business, and it’s up to you – and no-one else – as to who knows and when.

There are also no right or wrong ways to ‘come out’, rather, there are just some things to remember and be prepared for.

You’re not alone.

This is a really important thing to remember. No matter what happens from here on, you’re not alone. There are plenty of other people out there who are going through the same thing as you, with the same fears and the same questions. Whatever happens, there are plenty of organisations and services who can provide support for you. In your lifetime, you will meet other people who have been through similar experiences, and, at the very least, people who feel the exact same way you do – whether it be about your sexual or romantic orientation, or your gender identity.

Choose your moment.

There’s no right or wrong place or time to ‘come out’ – but certainly, there are times that are more appropriate than others. Your Grandmother’s funeral might not be the best time to come out. If you want to come out at a family dinner, perhaps decide on waiting until everyone has eaten. Chose a time and a place where you can talk freely and safely. You may even want to write a letter first before dealing with it face-to-face, or, if you have a sibling or close family friend who you know will accept you, you may want to come out to them and have them come out for you or with you. Choose a solution that will work best for you.

Don’t come out in order to hurt someone, or in the middle of an argument. It can make the whole process more difficult then it needs to be.

There’s nobody who you should feel you have to come out to first.

If you’re worried about how certain people will react to you coming out, it’s always a good idea to come out to someone who you know will accept you or you know you can trust. You don’t have to come out to your parents before you come out to your friends. There are many people in this world whom you can come out to first – whether they be friends, relatives, councillors, teachers, etc.

Even if you can’t think of anyone, look up support services for Queer people such as advice lines or Mental Health lines and websites. Many people come out to complete strangers via these methods before they come out to those close to them – and that’s totally okay.

Be prepared for their reaction.

You know your parents and friends, and you’ll know what their reaction will be. Preparing yourself for that reaction is important.

Be prepared for emotion.

‘Coming out’ can be emotional for all concerned. Your parents or friends may have attitudes towards Queer orientations and gender identities which conflict with who you are, and even if they don’t, they might be shocked by the news. Just as you hope they’d be understanding, you need to be understanding too. Be prepared to feel a wide variety of emotions, too. But remember: it gets better and there are support networks out there for you.

Be prepared for questions.

No doubt, when coming out, you’ll face questions. Remember: you don’t need to know all the answers. But think about which questions they may ask that you do know the answers to. Find ways to articulate what you feel. You may even want to practice what you’ll say in the mirror. They may also be too embarrassed to admit they’re ignorant or totally clueless, so if you’re prepared to answer any questions they have, it may make it things easier.

Be prepared to give them time.

Sometimes it takes a bit of time and space for those closest to you to accept the news. Be prepared for that.

They may already know.

Your parents may already know, and are just waiting for you to ‘come out’ yourself. As a result, they may have already prepared themselves for the news.

Remain calm and collected.

The people you react to may react in a way that is irrational or melodramatic. They may even be cruel, vicious and insulting. That doesn’t mean you should be. Try to stay calm and collected.

You don’t need everybody’s approval.

It sounds unfortunate, but chances are you’ll run into people who won’t accept you for who you are. You don’t need those people to legitimise who you are as a human being. No matter what, remember that you are a human being, and you deserve respect and dignity just like anyone else. If somebody’s unable to give you that, you don’t need their approval or their influence in your life. The truth is, whatever happens, you’re going to continue being the person you are, no matter how much you might try and suppress it. You’ve got one life: don’t waste it being someone you’re not in order to make someone who can’t accept you happy.

Be honest.

If you’re going to ‘come out’, you’ve got to be honest. There’s no point in coming out if you’re going to tell half-truths or lie. If you’re not quite sure what or who you are, be honest about that too.

Don’t do a ‘hit and run’.

Don’t plan anything else on your coming out. The worst thing you can do is come out and then leave before they’ve had a chance to talk.

Worst case scenario.

You know your parents and peers. Be prepared for the worst case scenario. If your parents are homophobic or transphobic bigots, have somewhere else to stay that night, just in case.

Remember: you’re not alone.

Whatever happens…. Remember, you are not alone, and there are support services out there for you, because there’s plenty of other people going through the exact same thing. You will meet people in your life who won’t accept you for who you are – but you will meet people who will.

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‘Coming Out 101’: A Few Helpful Hints