First, Let me just say, if you have already gone through this process, congrats on the steps you have taken to get where you are today. Also, if you are not gay, but don’t know how to respond to those who might be planning to come out, hopefully this article will offer some encouragement, no matter which side of the argument you may be on. For those that are not sure of their own sexual orientation yet, that’s okay. It’s okay to say that you are in a process. Lastly, if you are questioning whether you want to come out or not, I want to commend you for struggling through a difficult decision in life at a difficult time where acceptance still isn’t totally ubiquitous. But take heart, the movement towards acceptance, hope, and healing is happening. There are people, groups, and organizations that will welcome you with open arms.
So lets talk about the 4 W’s of coming out.
To WHOM: make sure you first come out to someone you trust and also whom you really feel will accept you. Fear of rejection and anxiety are both things that homosexual individuals face and wrestle with more than heterosexual individuals. Feeling totally alone is one of the worst feelings, especially when you are embarking on this difficult road. Therefore, I ask you to pick someone who makes you feel safe and will hopefully accept you fully. Then, by having that one person’s full support as you choose your other audiences, it will make the responses good or bad, something you can deal with and process with someone who believes in you. You should prepare for the idea that some people still might respond how you had hoped, but not everyone is on the other side of history yet. I hope you know how brave you are!
(note to the responder: Please be Kind… Warm, Safe, Welcoming, Loving… Celebratory, Encouraging? All the better: but even if you don’t agree with their choice in life, they did choose you as a person they trust and important enough to tell you even if they thought you would reject them. I encourage that my role as a CHRISTIAN is to love others as God loves us. I also believe that our role as HUMANS is to love. There is already enough pain, hate, and strife in this world. Please don’t add to it.)
WHAT will you say? Coming out is difficult, so figuring out the right way to do it will probably take some thought and consideration. I encourage that writing it out first will be helpful to weed out the details that don’t matter, (who you kissed, what it felt like?) and make sure you say the meat of the story clearly. “I am gay”, or “I am bisexual.” Leave no room for confusion or trying to convince you otherwise. Prefacing the big stuff: Let them know why you chose them as a person worthy of such new and important information. Let them know that they don’t have to agree, but you hope for respect. Allow them to ask questions because they will have some for you.
(note to the responder: First, feel honored. He or She wanted to be REAL and HONEST with you, so the least you can do is let them know “ I am glad that you trusted me enough to tell me.” If you really do disagree, judgment, animosity, and exclusion will not change their sexual orientation. Secondly, Ask questions. He or she just told you a huge piece of important information. If you need to, ask your questions, to understand better. Try not to make assumptions.)
WHEN is the right time? The truth is there is never going to be a perfect time. So do it NOW!!! Just kidding! IT IS ESSENTIAL TO GO AT YOUR OWN PACE, so you can be true to who you are. when they can focus on you, not be distracted. Preface your invitation to talk as, I want to talk to you about something really important, so that they don’t invite anyone else along, or sit on their phone. Ask them to put all distractions away.
(note to the responder: make time for him or her. If it is this important enough that they wanted to tell you this, the other stuff can happen/ be done at a later time. Focus in Now. Be present.)
WHERE is the right place? Somewhere with minimal distractions, but most importantly where you feel safe. Are you so scared of their reaction you fear your safety? Maybe in a public place is best, or maybe not at all. However, if you do feel safe, I encourage you meet in a place that feels neutral. A Neutral location will help the receiver feel comfortable so that they may ask questions, and you to feel safe to share as well.
FOLLOWING THESE 4 W’s should help ease the process of coming out. Plus, I really hope that being truthful with those who are an important part of your life about who you are and what your sexual orientation is will help bring an increased sense of personal integrity, increased self esteem, and increased communication and honesty with others. Good luck!!
Aside: Self-acceptance is the first and most important step to this process. Coming out about your sexuality will be easier to do and easier to accept dissenting opinions if you are more solid and confident about who you are. I encourage you to see help and talk to a therapist, as I believe in our education and training to be neutral, good listeners, and question askers to help you become more aware of yourself and your wants/needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact me: Wendy.LMFT@gmail.com or my phone number (512) 649 1049. Another great therapist in the Austin area who works very well with these issues is April Owen who you can contact at: (832) 421 4968 or Dr_o@live.com .