By Scot Ridgeway
Coming out is a process that is different for everyone. In the end, you’re the one who makes the decision about who you come out to and how. But these all-purpose tips can help you through the process.
Consider the “who” and “why” before deciding “how”. Who in your life needs to know, and why? What are the benefits? What are the risks?
TRY TO ANTICIPATE PEOPLE’S LIKELY REACTIONS AND QUESTIONS.
What comments have people around you made about LGBT- related subjects in the past or presently? Read up on LGBT issues so you can respond to negative assumptions and stereotypes people in your life may have about LGBT people. Don’t immediately assume that people who have made negative comments about LGBT persons in the past will automatically reject you. Similarly, a loved one you thought might understand may need some time to process.
FIGURE OUT WHAT SUPPORT YOU HAVE AVAILABLE IN CASE SOMETHING GOES WRONG.
Plan out what you can do and who can help you if someone responds to the disclosure in a way you didn’t want or anticipate. Your support network may include people whom you’ve already come out to, other out LGBT persons, supportive counselors or clergy, or LGBT support hotlines like the Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386) or the hotlines operated by the LGBT National Help Center (glbthotline.org). Also, if you live with and/or are financially dependent on someone you think may react negatively, reconsider or at least make contingency plans.
PRACTICE WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY AND HOW YOU WANT TO SAY IT.
Even if you aren’t entirely ready to identify as LGBT, you can still talk about being attracted
to someone of the same sex, or how you don’t feel like the gender you were assigned at birth. It may help you to write out what you plan to say to organize and clarify your thoughts ahead of time.
PICK THE RIGHT TIME.
If the people who plan to come out to are dealing with other problems or stressors, they may be less able to handle this latest development. Find a quiet, private place to tell them, at a moment when you’ll both have time to talk.
You probably needed time to realize and accept your own LGBT status; the people around you may need some time to understand it. Try to maintain an open, caring dialogue in the meantime.
A Resource Guide to Coming Out A guide from the Human Rights Campaign with practical steps to coming out and living openly.
Coming Out As YOU A pocket-sized resource for exploring your thoughts about the coming out process and doing it safely.
In the event of a crisis: You can reach out to the Trevor Project Hotline 1-866-488-7386.
If you experience a crisis or need a safe place, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or reach someone via the Crisis Text Line (text “TN” to 741741) at any time.