What is “coming out”?
The term “coming out” refers to telling someone something about yourself which may concern your sexuality or gender identity. The process of coming out is different for all individuals and it may take a while for many people to feel comfortable enough to express themselves in this way with other people. We should all support everyone in their coming out journey in whichever way they choose to express it.
Why come out?
Often people choose to come out as a way of being proud of who they are, whether that reflects who they choose to love or the way they choose to express themselves to the world around them. Hiding your identity can be a difficult struggle for a lot of LGBT+ individuals. Feelings of guilt and shame are extremely common surrounding the stage prior to coming out. Yet just because someone has decided to come out to their friends or family, they may choose to keep other aspects of their personal life private. For many people, the time in which they feel comfortable enough to come out may differ extremely. The most important thing is to remember not to put pressure on yourself or others to come out before they are comfortable and able to do so.
How to come out?
Everyone has their own unique way of coming out and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Think about who you want to tell, consider who may be most supportive in this situation. Friends, family or maybe another trusted individual such as a teacher who may be able to support your coming out journey to others.
The most obvious way to come out is by sitting down in person with an individual to discuss your coming out. The benefits of this are that you are able to discuss and answer any questions or concerns the other person may have after what you have told them. Also, you are able to give and receive comfort and support on a personal level in this way. It may feel daunting at first, but once you have told one person the process of coming out becomes a lot easier and second nature for many people.
Another way of coming out may be to tell someone through an email, text, or social media post. In this way, you enable people to process and fully reflect on what you have told them before an in-person conversation may take place. A method such as this may also provide a way of coming out to everyone at once without the need for individual conversations with those around you.
Support when coming out
Numerous charities and support workers exist to help people with the process of coming out. Charities such as Stonewall, the Trevor project, Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids to name a few. Many people come out with no problem whatsoever. However, for others, there may be some obstacles and setbacks which get in the way of a smooth coming out journey. Sometimes those close to you may need some time to get used to the news. It can be difficult if the people you care about have a hard time accepting who you are. Everyone’s coming out journey is different. Remember to stay strong, positive and considerate of others’ journey when coming out.