Coming out doesn't have to be scary. We've got you sorted.
Everyone comes out at their own speed, and when you do finally make the decision to let other people know about your sexuality, intersex variation or gender identity there’s a chance it’ll seem a bit daunting. It’s one of the most common topics we’re asked about, so here are our tips for coming out.
Make Sure You’re Ready
Ask yourself - am I ready to come out? Chances are if you’re reading this then the answer’s probably ‘uh, yeah!’ If you’re still a bit unsure though, remember that there is absolutely no rush and it’s OK to not come out. Whether or not to come out is your decision to make. There are some questions you can ask yourself if you’re still unsure:
- Is this something I would like to do right now?
- Is it safe for me to come out?
- Do I have any support?
It's OK To Change Your Mind
Your identity is your own, and coming out is a continuous process. If you’re unsure about your sexuality or gender identity, it’s OK to say “Hey - I’m gay” and later on update people that you’re actually bisexual.
Bonus tip - you don’t have to pick a label at all. if you’re a guy who’s into other guys, you don’t have to choose between labels like ‘gay’, ‘bi’ or ‘queer’. You can tell people that you’re still working it out, or shrug it off when people want to guess.
Find Support If You Can
Telling the first person can sometimes be the biggest step, but having a friend, family member or teacher who can be there for you can make things heaps easier. Talking through your experiences and having someone who can stick up for you when needed makes any situation better. It’s also amazing to have that person to bounce ideas off and to celebrate with when things go well. The support doesn’t always have to come from someone you know in person; there are heaps of online communities, blogs and videos out there that you can access from people who are going through the same thing as you.
Test the Waters
You can sometimes test a person’s reaction by bringing up a topic on sexuality or gender with someone first. Seeing their reaction to LGBTIQ news, media or celebrities can give you an insight into those topics without outing yourself first.
- Did you see that Coca Cola ad on TV where the brother and sister both fight over a guy? I thought it was so cool that Coke showed a gay person like that.
- Have you seen Orange Is The New Black? Isn’t it awesome that they have an out transgender actress?
It doesn't have to be in person, you could link to this sort of thing on social media as well. If you want to be more direct, you can ask questions about a made up scenario, such as:
- Hey Mum, one of my friends came out to me as transgender at school, I thought it was really great they trusted me. Do you know anything about how I could support them?”
Write It Out
Face to face conversations can be intimidating and finding the right words isn’t always easy. Taking the time to write letters or emails that convey exactly what you want to express and how you feel can help take some of the pressure off. You can use this as a way of guiding the way you come out, or you can even give them the written letter.
How You Do It Is Up To You
How big or small is up to you, and it’s going to be different from person to person. Some people come out via Facebook posts, others do it face to face or over coffee. Some people make a huge celebration of it, others decide to be more subtle.
It’s New For Them Too
While you’ve had a while to figure out your identity and what it means, for the person you’ve just come out to, it’s likely all new information. It’s nice to show them patience if they don’t understand right away. They’ll likely have questions for you - which you may or may not want to answer. If you don’t feel up to answering their questions, providing links or resources for them where they can read up themselves can be really helpful.
If Things Don’t Go Great
We can’t promise you that it’ll go exactly as planned, so it’s useful to have a plan in case they don’t. Having a backup plan (like being able to stay at a friend’s house if there’s tension at home, or having a siblings who can talk to your parents) can help make the process a little less daunting. Hopefully you won’t need it! But having it can give you peace of mind.
Remember to reach out if you need help. There’s a bunch of people you can talk to for extra support, and you can check them all out here.