Today is National Coming Out Day. It’s a day dedicated to raising awareness for the rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) brothers and sisters. On this day, we celebrate coming out as an LGBTQ or as an ally. Coming out is one of the bravest things a member of the LGBTQ community can do. The world is still marked with unacceptance for every kind of love there is, which makes it hard to be your true self.
Coming out is a complicated process. Aside from the social difficulties faced by members of the community, there’s the potential to be met with violence. It’s no wonder why it’s a scary and nerve-wracking thing to do. But even if someone is loving and supportive of you, coming out can still be daunting. But we’re here to tell you; it’s okay! You may not be able to come out today but take it at your own pace. In the meantime, we can give you steps to ponder on if you want to come out.
How to Come Out to Your Loved Ones
1 Accept Your True Self
Maybe you’re still in a state of self-denial. You can’t come out if, in the first place, you’re not comfortable with who you are yet. Work first on yourself. Come to terms with your sexuality or gender identity before you work outwards. It’s normal to be confused. There’s no reason to be ashamed. Coming out to yourself can be hard, but it’s the first step in the right direction.
2 Come Out on Your Own Pace and Time
Even if you’re already comfortable with who you are, you can still be afraid to come out of the closet. That’s completely understandable. You’re still valid. Coming out is a personal choice, so it depends on you and only you. You should only do it because you feel like it’s the right thing to do for you. You’re in charge of your own coming out process. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing it when you’re not ready yet.
3 Assess Your Situation if it’s Okay to Come Out
In an ideal world, it’s perfectly okay to come out whenever you want. Or, scratch that, actually, in an ideal world, you won’t need to come out in the first place. Heck, in an ideal world there would be any need for a “National Coming Out Day.” Everybody will just be accepting and minding their own businesses. But we’re not in an ideal world. We’re in the real world. And in the real world, members of the LGBTQ people get murdered every day just for being LGBTQ.
Don’t risk your safety and well-being by coming out. You have the right to keep your identity a secret if you think it will harm you to do otherwise. If you will be kicked out, beaten, or get disinherited by coming out, stay closeted for now. Wait until after you are no longer dependent on your family.
4 Evaluate the Stand of a Loved One in terms of LGBTQ issues
Get a sense of how accepting a loved one is first before telling them. Evaluate them based on certain LGBTQ issues like homelessness and gay marriage. If their stand is something like “hate the sin, love the sinner,” then it’s probably best to assume that they’ll never fully accept you. It’s important that before you come out to the person, you already know their stand on the community. They should be accepting of other people. If you have a trusted friend who’s also an LGBTQ, they might be the best person to tell first. They’ve been in your shoes. There’s a lower risk that they’ll react negatively.
5 Choose people who are supportive and will respect your privacy.
National Coming Out Day is about surrounding yourself with people who love you and care about you. The first people you should come out to are people who you trust with your life. Quite literally, as one wrong person can cost you your job or reputation. Be sure to tell them that they shouldn’t tell anyone what you’ve confided in them. Make sure that they are open-minded and understanding.
In these crucial times, you can’t afford to be with someone who won’t help you gain confidence and the courage to move forward. If your first experience in coming out turns out good, you might be less anxious to come out in the future.
6 Level your expectations
No matter how much you’ve assessed the person, you’ll never really know the reaction until it’s the actual moment. People won’t always meet your expectations. More than this, you can’t control their reactions. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t react the way you expected them to. It’s always a possibility. Maybe they’re just shocked because they never saw it coming. But if they really love you as what you’ve initially established, they’ll accept you in no time.
7 Come out during an appropriate time
What is the appropriate time? If you ask us, the right time is always today. But you can’t just do that to your loved ones. The right time will depend on different people. Assess what’s going on in their lives too. Make sure that they’re not burdened with other worries or problems. The best time is when everything is calm, and things are okay on their end. If you aren’t sure when’s a good time to talk, you can always ask them when they’re physically, emotionally, and mentally available for you.
Coming out is a process.
This National Coming Out Day, remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s similar to coming out. Take it slow. Don’t rush yourself. All the confusion, the worry — they’re all part of the process. What’s important to remember is that you’re in charge of this journey. You’re the captain of your soul. Come out to your friends, family, and community on your own terms and pace.
More than this, don’t let the negative reactions hurt your self-esteem. If someone makes hateful comments, let them be. Don’t waste your energy and mental energy on people who won’t accept you for who you are. Love and respect yourself regardless of what other people might say. You are loved for who you are.
Don’t let them make you believe otherwise.