There are many ways to come out and exist in today's society. There is also no pressure to come out. However, should you decide to come out, weighing the risks and benefits of doing so is essential. Planning how and who to come out to can make sharing your news easier. Additionally, getting support eases the stress of coming out.
You deserve to be accepted as you are and are worthy of love and support.
Coming out can be scary as a kid, so putting your safety first is essential.
Understanding yourself is key to coming out, which is why there's no pressure to come out to anyone but yourself.
A positive coming-out experience can result in stronger relationships and better mental health.
Test the waters before coming out as LGBTQ+, have a plan, get support, and remember you are not alone.
Finally, remember that coming out is a beautiful shedding of a conformed version of yourself into a more authentic you.
Planning how to come out
Coming out is a sensitive and stressful process. The good news is you're not alone. In 2020, nearly 10% of U.S. teens identified as LGBTQ+. There is no pressure to come out before you’re ready. Remember that coming out is a lifelong process.
Navigating the specifics of coming out can feel scary, especially for the first time. Remember that there are people who are accepting and will welcome you with open arms. Friends, siblings, aunts or uncles, therapists, or teachers are options if you're worried about coming out to your parents. Find people in your life who are accepting, and come out to them first.
Deciding to come out is also declaring to be true to yourself. This matters, even if you only come out to yourself.
Ways to come out
There are many ways to come out, should you decide it's right for you. You can write a letter, email, talk on the phone, or talk face-to-face. Pick a good time to ensure privacy, especially if you want to come out to someone in person.
If you want to come out in person and are nervous, write down what you'd like to say. Then, you can practice reading it aloud in the mirror beforehand. Being vulnerable is a challenging but essential part of coming out. Speak from your heart.
You may need an exit strategy if it doesn't go well. Try saying things like, "I can't answer all your questions, but I wanted to tell you," or "We can talk more about this later," if things start to turn sour.
Finding acceptance from your caregivers and parents is ideal when coming out. But, no matter how it goes, remember that you deserve respect for your identity.
Five things to consider when coming out
Keep safety and preparation in mind when coming out. Trust your instincts. Test the waters before you fully come out, especially to the family you live with.
1. Focus on your safety
Come out to people who feel safe. Ideally, your parents and family will be supportive when you come out. However, it's best to prepare for any unexpected reactions. Remember, if your loved ones don't react positively, it likely won't be their final reaction.
2. Before coming out, test the waters
Ask the person you want to come out to how they feel about LGBTQ+ celebrities or what their thoughts are on gay marriage. Notice how they handle emotional events. If they react positively, it's a good sign to come out.
3. Be vulnerable and tell your story
Say, "I've always felt this way." Being honest helps lessen the confusion people in your life might face. It's also a good communication skill.
4. Prepare for what can happen
Sometimes, telling people your true identity can have negative consequences. Being dependent on parents for food, money, and housing puts LGBTQ+ youth at risk for homelessness. Think of a backup plan, somewhere you can stay if things don't go according to plan. Backup plans can include making a plan to stay with a relative or friend who you know is supportive.
5. You are worthy of love and support
No matter how you identify, you deserve safety, love, and respect. You will likely be surprised at the support you will find once you come out.
If your parents have questions or are hesitant about your identity, they may be having fear for your welfare. Do your best to answer questions, because it can help them understand and better support you. If you are truly worried, it might be better to wait until you're out of the house before coming out. Or, share parts of your identity, not all, to slowly educate them. Ultimately, it’s imperative to put your safety and well-being first.
Risks and benefits of coming out
There are both risks and benefits to coming out.
Risks of coming out include rejection, bullying, and depression.
It's normal to fear rejection. Some people may not be accepting.
Bullying at school is a problem faced by LGBTQ+ teens. In 2018, 70% of LGBTQ+ teens were bullied at school, per the “2018 LGBTQ Youth Report'' by the Human Rights Campaign.
Depression is a risk of not coming out, especially during puberty, as adolescence occurs. Transgender kids might withdraw during adolescence because of unwanted hormonal changes.
The benefits of coming out include authenticity, better health, and more meaningful relationships.
Being true to yourself leads to better self-awareness. It often comes with feelings of relief.
Health, both physical and mental, can improve. Coming out means access to hormones and puberty blockers to prevent puberty. Gender-affirming healthcare has better overall health outcomes in the long run.
Relationships can be more meaningful after coming out because you're honest with yourself and another person.
If the risks outweigh the benefits, think about who you can come out to safety. Think of it as a dress rehearsal for the rest of your life. You won't be coming out just once. Whenever you begin a new job or meet new people, coming out happens all over again. The benefit of continually coming out is that you’ll "weed people out" who won't accept you from the get-go.
A support system that understands what you're going through can act like an emotional safety net. Online communities are great ways to meet other LGBTQ+ youth. Reach out to friends you know are understanding before coming out to your family or other people who might not be as supportive.
One resource for parents is from healthychildren.org, "Coming Out: Information for Parents of LGBTQ Teens." Providing literature for them to view helps support your case. In addition, outside sources offer parents an alternative perspective from experts.
Remember that feeling different is part of the coming out process. You don't have to have it all figured out right away!
Take time to understand and explore gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Historically, worldwide, gender diversity has always existed. Gender is a rainbow kaleidoscope of colors and was never meant to be black and white (or blue and pink).
Points on gender identity and sexual orientation
By age eight and a half, awareness of gender “incongruence” is present, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your feelings around gender and identity are valid.
Your gender identity does not have to be what is assigned to you at birth. Having a different gender than the doctor assigned to you at birth is wonderful, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are many options for gender expression and identity. Feel free to explore them.
The sexual attraction is not the same as gender identity or expression. You can be attracted to people physically, emotionally, and even based on intelligence. The sexual attraction is not only based on gender.
Transitioning to a different gender identity can mean what you want it to mean. That is the beauty of coming out. There are a million different ways to transition!
Understand yourself first. Then, find people in your life who you think will support you. Plan how to come out by speaking your truth. Lastly, put your safety and well-being first. Always remember you are worthy of love and care and that the LGBTQ+ community supports you.