Coming out to your loved ones can be a nerve-wracking experience, no matter how accepted the LGBTQIA+ community is in your family and social circles. While there are many benefits to living life as your authentic self, the fear of being rejected by those closest to you can make the process challenging. Coming out can be one of the most difficult things you do, but there are things you can do to help you prepare.
In this article, we’ll provide a few tips for making the coming-out experience run a little more smoothly for you and those closest to you.
Much like interviewing for a job or leaving for college, a major life event like coming out can benefit from preparation. While you can’t prepare for everything, taking control of what you can has the potential to, at the very least, reduce a little bit of stress.
Here are a some tips:
Writing out what you want to say can help you collect your thoughts so you don’t feel overwhelmed when the moment comes. Consider what would be an ideal response and a not-so-ideal response from the person you’re coming out to and then plan out what you might say in response.
Finding a safe, comfortable place for you to come out is crucial in reducing the stress around the experience. The right time and place can mean different things to different people. Maybe coming out face-to-face feels too daunting to you, but that’s okay! If a phone call would ease the stress, then do that. If you think it’s safer to come out in a public place, that’s okay too.
There’s no “perfect” time to come out, and you might find yourself coming out at a time that you might have not originally planned. However, you still have some power over timing. Is it after dinner with your family? Or maybe just a regular night at home with friends? You can consider what would be an ideal time for the person you’re coming out to, but at the end of the day, you need to do what makes YOU the most comfortable.
Unfortunately, coming out doesn’t always go as planned, and for some, it can be an emotionally or even physically dangerous experience. It could help to compile a list of resources to have on hand just in case. Having a supportive friend on call, considering alternative housing if you’re living with an unaccepting loved one, or even scheduling a counseling session with an LGBTQIA+ counselor post-coming out could help.
Here are a few resources for you to save when the time comes:
You don’t have to jump right into a conversation about your identity with a loved one. It’s okay to figure out how they feel about the LGBTQIA+ community. Checking the temperature of those around you can help you determine how they might react when you do decide to come out.
Here are a few ways you can test the waters with those around you:
Keep in mind: If someone doesn’t respond in the way you might’ve hoped, it’s not your fault. You deserve to be accepted as you are, and there are people out there who will.
Remember: Coming out is a personal decision, and it’s yours alone to make. If you don’t feel ready, that’s okay. Coming out may lead to major life changes, so you shouldn’t force yourself to make a major decision if you aren’t ready.
If you’re ready to come out, keep in mind that the experience can greatly impact your mental and emotional health. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can prioritize your well-being in this taxing time:
It’s possible that people in your life might not be accepting of your identity, and while you can’t choose how someone responds to your coming out, you can choose to protect your peace.
If someone in your life is unaccepting of your identity, it’s okay to take time away from them. If someone in your life is being unkind to you about your identity, it’s okay to put your foot down. Whatever is going to protect your peace in this stressful time, do it.
Intentional activities like journaling your thoughts, meditating, or even just going on a walk to decompress can greatly improve your mental well-being. Make a list of activities that you enjoy doing and pick one to do every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes.
Support is crucial when you decide to come out and afterward. Coming out can bring up a lot of complicated emotions and can even impact your relationships, but help is out there. Talk therapy is a safe space for you to discuss your feelings and see the bigger picture.
For many, coming out can be extremely emotionally and mentally taxing. Additionally, LGBTQIA+ identifying people are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health struggles. According to Mental Health America, nearly 40% of LGBTQIA+-identifying people reported experiencing a mental health condition within the last year.
Know you don’t have to go through it alone. If you need a little more than just support from loved ones, talk therapy might be able to help. SonderMind can connect you with a licensed mental health professional who specializes in caring for LGBTQIA+-identifying people and can help you navigate the changes that coming out might bring to your life.