5 Tips on Coming Out for LGBTQIA
Coming out is no easy task. Regardless of your parents political affiliation and background, or how close and connected you may be, coming out can be extremely vulnerable and anxiety provoking.
Struggling with coming out can take on many shapes and forms: You’ve probably gone through hours of thought, and may have spent countless nights wondering and worrying about what others will think, how you will confront them, and exhaustively worry about what their responses might be. Maybe you spend hours rehearsing or go back and forth in your head about whether to do it or not. Perhaps you’re still trying to work through your own internalized homophobia that’s been embedded into you since you were young.
Additionally, you might struggle with anxiety and fantasize about which family members will be accepting and which will not be understanding at all. You may worry about being ostracized, and you worry about fitting in- will they judge me? Will they think differently about me? You hope for acceptance, for love, and for them to treat you all just the same as if you were with a different sex partner.
The coming out process is not just a single-one time occurrence but rather it’s a process that is ongoing throughout the lifetime. It’s something you may have to do with your co-workers, coaches, friends, and even people you meet at the grocery store or dog park.
First tip: find a good therapist. Preferably someone who understands the process of coming out, who is an ally, and specializes in sexuality, gender and/or LGBTQ+ populations. With a less than open-minded world, coming out can put immense pressure on your mind and body. Finding an educated ally or queer therapist can help to increase your resilience and help you navigate the heavy feelings surrounding your sexual identity and coming out process.
Second Tip: plan what you’re going to say! And who to come out to first. You can write out what you’re going to say or practice with a trusted friend. Having confidence in a plan or script will help when anxiety kicks in or nervousness presents itself. It can also be helpful so that you’re able to express yourself fully and hit all the topics you’re hoping to include. Coming out to a trusted and supportive friend first who you believe can support you without judgment can help you build on this positive experience and build confidence.
Third Tip: Practice patience. As you may have spent time thinking, processing and finding yourself your family or friends may need time to digest this change. Patience can be key. Try not to judge others for how they may respond at first. Let them have time and space to digest this new facet of your life and don’t expect them to be perfect. Wait a week or so to determine how they feel or check back in.
Fourth Tip: Take things at your own pace. No one gets to tell you how and when to come out. Ultimately it’s your decision so you have to do it at your own pace and do what’s right for yourself. If your safety is ever at risk for coming out- then don’t! Contact your therapist or someone who can best guide and support you to find safe ways to get your needs met without feeling threatened.
Fifth Tip: find (or create) community support. Find community events, reach out to LGBTQ+ friends and allies for resources and ways to stay connected with others. It’s always nice to be around those who can understand what you’re going through and have your back. We’re all in this together!
For Parents: It’s important to acknowledge, recognize, and empathize with your child’s situation. Regardless of if your child is an adolescent, child or adult, listen to their story and feelings. Find your own therapist for guidance and support if you need help processing or digesting this news. Also, educate yourself on how to become an ally, ask questions, and get involved. If you’re able too, “come out” as well. Whether it’s in person or on social media, letting the world know you’re proud of your child can mean the world to them. Your child wants you to hear that you’ll love them unconditionally. Let them know you’re proud of their courage.
Author: Laura Burton, MA, LPCC
Learn more about Laura here!