“Coming out” is such an odd term for a difficult thing that many LGBTQ people go through.
There is often a lot of pressure to ‘come out’ to identify as ‘something’ and this can be unfair specifically for people who would feel negatively impacted by telling others about being LGBTQ.
Let’s go through some things that often people don’t talk about when it comes to coming out…
Coming out as gay is different for everyone
Coming out as gay or any other sexuality should never be pushed on anyone as we never know fully the situation the person is going through or people around them will react.
We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, upbringings and beliefs and with that comes perceptions of sexuality. Just because we may think coming out might be all fine does not mean that it will for everyone else.
The coming out result is heavily based on the reaction of the person hearing the news and their level of homophobia present for them. If someone is repulsed by people being gay, clearly the interaction towards the gay person could easily be harmful.
Conversely, if someone is affirming of someone being gay a positive reaction will occur. Repulsion as a reaction is still present in the community and this is why we should push anyone towards coming out.
You don’t have to come out if your not ready
Being ready to come out can take time and sometimes this is because there is unanswered questions still lurking.
This might be because you haven’t had any feelings towards the same sex but you also haven’t had feelings towards the opposite sex either, confusing things.
This is totally OK and what might be best is not labeling yourself as something quickly and taking time to get some answers first before identifying yourself a certain way. This is particularly the case for young people having odd feelings.
Some people like having a label for how they are feeling whereas others like to be open to experiences first and taking their time. There is no right or wrong answer here and it comes down to the individuals choice.
Telling people about your sexuality doesn’t mean you have to change yourself
There are stereotypes about lots of different groups in the community, particularly minority groups. For gay people we are conceived as ‘camp’, ‘promiscuous’ and ‘feminine’ but coming out as gay does not mean we then have to live up to this view. You can still be you and nothing needs to change.
The beauty of the gay community is that it is so diverse and your sexuality should dictate the rest of your identity. Being gay is only one part of you and how you express this is totally up to you.
Having a sexual experience with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you should come out as gay
There is a reason for the term ‘men who have sex with men’. This is because sexuality can be fluid and also its ok to experiment with what feels good to you. Your sexuality does not have to be set in concrete and yes there are examples of people who have been in long term heterosexual relationships and then moved into a same sex relationship.
There is no set rules and so don’t feel that there is something wrong with you if you have experimented.
Don’t come out based on feeling pressure from others
Find your allies. It is best to find a friend or loved one you feel comfortable with telling first. This person can be your go to person when you start to tell others and they can be someone in your corner right from the start.
Its OK what your attracted to rather than label it.
As its OK to say ‘ i think i might like guys’ or ‘i think i might like both genders’.
This again is not about feeling confined or forced to choose a label for yourself at the time.
Sometimes people need time to process it. This is OK and it is mot probably the person’s issues that they need to think through and not about you.
You aren’t alone in this. There are plenty of positive and negative coming out stories. Take the time to listen to these and understand how others have dealt with it. Knowledge is power and its better to feel like others understand your experience.
Get some professional help if you believe that coming out is a complete ‘no go’ This isn’t about moving you more to coming out its actually more about supporting you with this difficult stressor.
All of the above are totally fine and this may prompt some questions from the other person. You don’t have to have all the answers if they do ask things. Some questions some people may ask are:
- How long have you known?
- I thought you were dating … What happened there?
- Are you a top or bottom?
Again you don’t have to know any answers and you also don’t have to share anything more if you don’t feel comfortable.
The three stages of sexual orientation identity formation
- Stage 1: Discovery – this is where you start to question if you might be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender because of feelings you’re having.
- Stage 2: Acceptance – this is when you start to accept that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Telling the first person is a sign of acceptance.
- Stage 3: Integration – this is when you begin to get comfortable expressing your lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identity and living your life accordingly. Getting into a same-sex relationship is a sign of integration.
There is plenty of support out there for you to access. We have also prepared a series of articles about LGBTQ counselling if you want to check it out.
If coming out is an issue for you and you would like to reach out and talk this through call or make time today.