Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How NOT to Come Out of the Closet!

    Coming out of the closet is a difficult process and while there is no right way to do it, there are some things that are probably best not to do to ensure a smoother transition into your new open and honest identity and life.

  1. DON’T come out during a fight. While there may never be an ideal time to come out of the closet, during a fight is definitely a time not to do it. Nonetheless, it happens a lot! If you and a family member or friend are already in a negative space, don’t use your sexuality as a weapon. Wait until things are calmer and quieter.
  2. DON’T tell them that you have a boyfriend/girlfriend. Coming out is one thing. Disclosing a partner is another. Parents sometimes try to assign blame for your sexuality; it’s not right, just or wise to blame someone for your gayness, but it’s often one of the first (and most ignorant) reactions by parents or relatives. If you disclose your sexuality AND that you are in relationship, you’ve just created an easy target for that blame. Give it a few days or weeks or months.
  3. DON’T do it alone. Coming out to someone is an intensely personal and often vulnerable experience – but you don’t need to do it entirely alone. It’s important to build a support system for yourself. I first came out to my close friends and gradually widened my circle. By the time I came out to my family, I had a well established safety net of support – just in case things didn’t go well. Lean on your friends or find support online or over the phone.
  4. DON’T hit and run. After coming out, there is often a tendency to never talk about it again. Parents may not know how to talk about it – or else, they could be in a stage of denial. Don’t fall into this trap; talking about your sexuality is one of the best ways for you, your friends and your family to grow more comfortable with it. It’s going to be hard at first – but trust me, it’s worth the initial awkwardness.
  5. DON’T take responsibility for how people react. My coming out experiences have been 99% positive, but there have been a few unexpected and negative reactions. It’s important not to internalize those reactions. How people react to your disclosure says a lot about them and where they are at in their journey – and nothing about you.
  6. DON’T come out to family members as a group. When you come out, people may have a lot of questions – and they may react very emotionally. I think it’s best to keep the coming out process one-on-one with those people that play a big role in your life.
  7. DON’T assume that people won’t change. They often will. Opinions and perspectives often shift over time – and an initial negative reaction by family or friends doesn’t mean that things will always be that way. Your coming out may be an opportunity for the people in your life to grow and evolve. It takes time, but don’t assume that people will never come around.

Crossposted via Break The Illusion.

6 comments:

lainey said...

these are all excellent guidelines!
thank you

BLoGT said...

AfterEllen has a hilarious take on this in "How to Be a Gay Lady: Manners for the Modern Lesbian" (among other things, they suggest a mailing campaign). http://nyublogt.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/afterellens-how-to-be-a-gay-lady/

Great post!

The Dreaded Rhubarb said...

Again I feel that this misses the most important rule. DON'T come out to family you live with that may have a negative reaction. MOVE out first. Too many queer kids end up homeless because they come out before they have anywhere else to live. Make sure you've got the means to survive if you're kicked out the house.

Diane J Standiford said...

I am one of the lucky ones from 1957. I must agree that if I expected a bad situation I would wait until I was an adult and move out. Today? Not easy sometimes for a young adult to move out. Very good suggestions.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest another guideline? Don't assume a person is going to react in any certain way. My sister came out to me only after I'd found the book "Loving Someone Gay" in her car. When she asked me what I thought, I said "if you're happy, I'm happy." She was amazed and told me that she always thought I'd be the worst one in the family to know (in reality it was my mother, who promptly disowned her).

Little did my sister know that I was/am bi. I barely knew it myself back then (I was 13, she was 17). However, I always knew my sister was a lesbian, even before I had the vocabulary to articulate what I knew. I've never had a problem with it - why would I? Some people are born heterosexual, some are born homosexual and some are like me, born somewhere in the middle.

Sammi Renee said...

I wish i had this list when i was coming out. my parents already knew i was/am a lesbian which made it easier but still. It's nice to know there are others out there struggling with the same problems (i.e. "coming out" to family)

my family is ok with it. they dont want me to be out and proud around their parents though. and my family is ok with it but my parents ask the same thing. my grandparents are pretty old fashioned and they'd rather i not be disowned by them. one day, i will tell them and it will be hard. and there isnt a way for me to make it obvious without telling them seeing that im more of a girly lesbian. any tips??

my friend aubri says "we still love you" to all the lbgtq's out there.

and to those still in denial/coming out, coming out to yourself can be the biggest/hardest step. but take your time with it. and make sure YOU are the one who tells family and friends. if they find out through someone else it will only make things more difficult. Best of wishes to all

(p.s. isnt the girl on the right side of my picture gorgeous....how i ever had her has a girlfriend i will never know :) )

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