Should I Come Out of the Closet?
How do you determine if you should come out or not? How do you know when the right time is and who to come out to? These are really difficult questions to answer. Before sharing some things to consider, I want to say this:
You DO NOT have to come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or anything else. Coming out has been made out to be something that has to be done if you identify as LGBTQ+. This is very untrue. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and you also don’t need to share your private life with anyone. If you want to keep it private, then keep it private. If you want to come out and scream it from the rooftops, scream it from the rooftops. Just know the decision is yours and it isn’t something you have to do.
If coming out is something you want to do, there are a few things to consider:
- Do you have a strong support system?
- Do you have anyone in your life who identifies as LGBTQ+?
- Do you think your family will be supportive of you?
Firstly, make sure you will be safe. I hate this just as much as you do, but you need to be aware of the possibility. If you think your family will disapprove once they find out, make sure you have a plan as to where you can stay if it comes down to that. If this is with a friend, or a close relative, just somewhere you will have a safe space.
Do you have a strong support system?
Reflect upon the friendships in your life. It is important to determine if you have a strong support system behind you. Make sure you have people you can rely upon and who will love you for just being you. Chances are, some of your friends might already know. Sometimes, friends know before we even know.
When I came out as lesbian, I had mixed reactions. As in, a couple of my friends had already known for a while, some had no idea, and some unfortunately didn’t accept it. It sucked that some of my friends didn’t accept me, but at the end of the day, I didn’t need their support. I had a couple of really good friends who didn’t care who I’m attracted to and just love me for being me. That was more important, and I focused on those friends, rather than those who didn’t accept me. Finding your support system is super important as they can help you navigate any negative responses.
Do you have anyone in your life who identifies as LGBTQ+?
I think this is something to consider. If there is someone in your life who openly identifies as LGBTQ+, I would recommend talking to them about it if you trust them. You might be able to learn something from their coming out experience. They could help you by offering advice, listening to your feelings about it, and support whatever decision you may make. It might be beneficial to talk to them about it as they will understand what you are going through.
Before I decided to tell my friends, I opened up to a teacher first who I knew identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community. They listened to all my feelings and frustrations, and they offered helpful advice. It made me feel seen, understood, and loved. It also provided a sense of comfort because if I had any more thoughts or questions, I knew they would be able to understand where I was coming from and help me figure it out.
Do you think your family will be supportive of you?
I encourage you to reflect and think of possible ways your family could react. I say this because I don’t want you to expect them to support you, and then they react the exact opposite. Supportive or not, expect a lot of questions. Questions that are negative, positive, or questions because they don’t have much education concerning LGBTQ+. They may feel confused, and they might take it personally; that they did something wrong as a parent. As the saying goes, take the questions with a grain of salt. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you and you aren’t this way because of something failing.
No matter what happens, know that you have a community that loves you, supports you, and is happy to welcome you. You are always welcome at Tampa Therapy and Wellness.