Let's Have The Coming-Out-About-Your-Sexuality Talk And Clear Up 10 Things

Matt Orr Curator:

It's totally OK to not want to come out of the closet. It's scary! But if you share this with your friends, you never know — you might just find that it helps someone else's coming out experience be a little less of a lonely road.

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Woman: I'm coming out. I want the world to know, I'm want to let it show.

It is finally spring. Spring is the season of new beginnings and warmth and light and happiness and rebirth and renewals, and so what better way to honor that than by coming out. That was a stretch, but you know what I mean. No matter who you are, where you are, what your life looks like right now, you might be saying to yourself, "Should I come out? Is now the right time?" So, hopefully this will help you answer some of those questions, and if you are out already, awesome, just come on for the ride. Why not?

I'm going to frame this in response to the main question, "When should I come out," and all of the different responses I've heard to that question. Some of them I think are totally valid reasons to come out, some of them I think don't matter as much, so we're gonna go over them and maybe mix and match to see what's right for you.

Response number one: "I should come out when I'm safe." Yes, absolutely. Number one precursor to coming out, I always tell people, is that you have to make sure that you are safe. You have to make sure that you're still going to have a roof over your head, that you're going to still be financially supported, however that is.

Sometimes, you can have a sense that they're not going to be totally okay with it, but if they've ever made statements along the lines of, "No child of mine will be gay," things like that, "You wouldn't be my son or my daughter anymore," whatever, that's a pretty good reason to hold off until you are moved out and on your own. So, I know it can be difficult to not be honest about a part of yourself with them, but your safety matters, your well-being matters, so just please keep that in mind.

Response number two: "I should come out when I get a crush on somebody of the same sex." Not necessarily, I mean, there's no reason that one should cause the other. If this is something that's really causing you inner turmoil and distress, then maybe you can talk to one person about it, someone that you really trust, but just because you have feelings for one person, it doesn't mean you need to make a grand statement about it to the rest of the world, or incorporate it as part of your identity.

There are people actually who get crushes on people of the same sex, and then later identify as straight, so it doesn't have to mean anything, you don't have to use it as a giant turning point in your life. Maybe it will be, but it's definitely not required.

Response number three: "I should come out when I turn 18." You don't have to be a legal adult to be gay. It's not like boating. What if it were? What if you had to register to be gay when you turned 18? That would be like a draft that everybody wanted to be a part of. Some people come out when they're 12, and some people come out when they're 60, and both of them are okay. There's no age requirement for knowing how you identify. As long as you feel comfortable with it, then go forth and come out. Awesome.

Response number four: I should come out when I'm definitely sure of how I identify. A lot of people's identities change over time, and it's not uncommon to have more than one coming out. You might first think that you're gay and then actually end up being bisexual. You might first come out as a lesbian, and then later as a trans man. You don't have to know exactly where you are in order to start telling people, like, "Hey, I'm queer," or "These are the feelings I'm having."

Sexuality is fluid. Gender's a spectrum. Embrace that. It's okay to change, and it's okay to start talking about it before you're sure.

Response number five: "I should come out when I know I have some kind of support." Yes, definitely. Whether you have supportive friends, or family, or coworkers, or other people, if you know that there's going to be a core group of individuals who will support you for being LGBTQ, who are gonna want to talk to you and want to help you through it, awesome. That is a wonderful reason to come out. Thumbs up. Always, always with the thumbs up. Why? Why do I do that?

Response number six: "I should come out when I'm being bullied or I need help." Okay, this one is tricky, because we know for a fact that LGTBQ kids are bullied more often than straight kids, and a lot of times it's on the basis of their sexual orientation or their gender identify. That said, you do not have to disclose that identity in order to report that you've been bullied.

If you have confidence that your school is going to back you up when you come forward and say, "I was bullied for being gay, for being bi, for being trans," then I think that's a really good time to go for it, because schools need to know that there are LGBTQ kids there, and they they're going to face this kind of hostility and they should be protected. That said, it's really hard to tell if a school is going to be safe. In that case, it might be best to start with just one teacher, as opposed to going straight to an administrator. If there's no teacher you have a close relationship with, then someone that you know you can trust and you know is going to be there to support you, then start there and see what they think about whether or not you'll have success bringint

There may be small errors in this transcript.
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