Understanding the Pros and Cons
Like any other major decisions, coming out should be preceded by acknowledging both the positive and the negative outcomes. It’s important to remember that with each person that you tell, there will be a different reaction. However, it’s up to you to determine whether or not you are in a safe, accepting environment. Your circumstances will warrant the best and most positive possible outcomes. With that being said, here are all of the positive outcomes of coming out to your family and friends:
- being able to be open and honest about your true self
- lifting the stress of having to hide your identity
- being able to openly be a part of the LGBTQ community and making friends who can relate to you
- creating stronger and more honest relationships by diminishing secrets about your life
- becoming a role model and example for younger LGBTQ individuals and for other people who are also in the closet
Depending on your situation, it may be a good or a bad idea to come out to your loved ones, especially to your family. If you’re in an unaccepting environment, the consequences may be damaging and could put you in a dangerous situation. For example, if you are under the age of 18, you could be disowned, thrown out of the house, or lose financial support. Therefore, it’s crucial that you evaluate whether or not you are in a compromising position to come out. Here are some of the negative outcomes of coming out, which are more likely to occur if you are in an unaccepting environment:
- Individuals may be unaccepting or misunderstand you.
- Some may be hostile or shocked when told about your identity.
- Not all of your relationships will stay the same. Some may change and some may even be terminated.
- You could be discriminated against, harassed, or ridiculed for your identity.
With all of this information, it should still be up to you whether or not you feel as though you are ready or safe enough to begin telling people about your identity. Don’t let anyone pressure you. It should always be your decision.
How to Come Out
It’s crucial to choose how you can come out. There are many different ways that you can go about it. As stated before, the most important thing to consider is whether or not your circumstances and environment are safe enough for you to come out. Once you have considered your safety, your own needs and have made sure that you are ready to reveal your identity, it’s time to come out! Here are some tips of what to do:
- Pick a good time. Timing is one of the most crucial elements of a successful coming out. Be sure to assess the situation before talking about your sexuality or gender. If the person or people you are telling are stressed or in a bad mood, you should probably wait for another opportunity. If all parties are in a good mood and the circumstances feel good and welcoming, go for it.
- Choose your words wisely. Be sure to know what you want to say. You don’t have to completely label yourself. If you feel the urge to tell someone that you know you’re not straight or not in the gender binary, say that instead of going into specifics. It’s also important to choose your words in order to avoid confusion, overwhelming feelings, or hostility. Be gentle and understanding, as it can be tough for some people to understand where you’re coming from.
- Choose who you want to tell. Remember that you don’t have to tell the entire world immediately. It’s a good idea to tell one or two close people in your life before moving on to more people. It’s helpful in that way so you can test the waters. If you mess up, having a close loved one on standby makes it easier to learn what to say when talking to those who aren’t as close to you.
- Try to not have too many expectations. Not everyone is going to react how you imagine. It’s best to go into the conversation(s) without an expectation of what will happen. Not everyone is going to be quick to understand, so make sure to be patient and open. However, do expect at least one person in your life to accept you for who you are. If not, there are countless online sources and support systems that can help you.