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An Honest Perspective on Coming Out

Pride month is an important time of the year for many members of the LGBTQIA+

community. It’s an opportunity to celebrate who we are, who we’ve become, and who we aspire

to be. For varying reasons, there are many queer folks who are not publicly open about their

sexuality or gender identity – and that’s completely valid. In this post I’d like to discuss some of

the concerns surrounding coming out. Specifically, the two things I’d like to explore are choice

and safety. 

First, and most important, you are never obligated to inform anyone else of your sexuality

or gender identity. You are allowed to withhold those personal attributes from parents, family, or

friends. Coming to terms with and accepting who you are is a journey, and who walks with you

on that journey is your choice. You may choose to not tell someone because of a lack of trust.

However, it could also be the case that you trust someone, but aren’t in the best headspace to

have that conversation with them. Waiting to tell someone until you’re certain you’re ready is

important for assuring your thoughts and feelings are sorted, and will hopefully facilitate a

healthy conversation.

Second, coming out could potentially compromise your physical or emotional safety.

Unfortunately, many queer folks are living with or have family members who are not supportive

of those who do not conform to heterosexual and cisgender norms. Be mindful of who you come

out to and what their potential response could be. Ultimately, who you decide to tell will always

be your decision. If you decide to share your sexuality or gender identity with someone who you

think could respond negatively, I recommend having safety plans in place to manage your

emotions going forward and make alternative living arrangements. Some safety plans can

include creating physical distance between yourself and the other person, shutting down the

conversation if it becomes too emotionally taxing or abusive, making use of relaxation

techniques (e.g., 4-7-8 deep breathing), and identifying reliable members of your support system

to reach out to.  A key thing to note is that someone else’s negative response to you coming out

does not in any way invalidate your identity. The unfortunate reality is that some people, even

people you love, may not initially respond positively to your coming out. Depending on their

response, you can make the decision to educate them further on your experience, be patient and

give them time to process this new information, or withdraw from the relationship. What’s most

important to keep in mind, as I’ve said before, is that it is always your decision on how to

proceed in this situation. There is no right or wrong way to come out to someone or process their

response. Some ways of going about it may be helpful for you and some could be less helpful or

even harmful. Ideally, you’ll make the choices that promote your own wellness. 

Coming out can be a difficult, confusing, and even scary process. It can also be extremely

wonderful and fulfilling. If you decide that you don’t want to come out to someone or anyone

yet, celebrating your queerness privately is still a perfectly valid option! I know one way I’ll be

celebrating my own queerness is by rewatching Heartstopper on Netflix in anticipation of its

second season. Taking pride in and celebrating your identity is more than just flags, symbols,

parades, and parties. It is lovingly acknowledging the wholeness of who you are and shifting

away from the cultural norms embedded within our society that perpetuate harmful and

invalidating ideas about our identities. That’s something that not only benefits queer folks – it

benefits everyone!

If you’d like assistance navigating your journey of queerness or are having difficulties

navigating your identity in the context of heteronormativity and cis-normativity, please reach out

to schedule a free consultation so that you can be better equipped for your lifelong journey of wellness.

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