The decision to come out to friends and family as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is a life changing one. I have written an article about coming out for the LGBT community in the past but I felt the need to talk about it further.
Often people decide to come out because they are tired of living inauthentically. Taking off the mask to reveal this important aspect of self can be terrifying, particularly if you’re not sure how your loved ones will react.
Feeling Like a Fraud Hurts
People who are reluctant to reveal themselves as part of the LGBT community sometimes struggle with feeling like they are living with a false identity.
It can feel like a double-edged sword; taking the risk and coming out may mean negative relationships with certain loved ones but keeping that aspect of yourself hidden also feels like a lie. Even worse, the impact of hiding one’s LGBT status could delegitimize it within yourself, which reinforces internalized shame.
Regardless of whether you have been open about your sexuality and gender for a while or you are still considering how to do it, there is a ton of value in accessing support from the LGBT community.
Approaches to Coming Out
Everyone approaches coming out differently, and it may be beneficial to talk with people who have been there and hear about all types of experiences and outcomes.
Processing the impact of being closeted is an important part of healing. When coming out to loved ones, try to help them understand how challenging it has been to hide this essential fact about yourself for so long.
Sharing the difficulty you experienced with hiding your LGBT status helps loved ones understand your experience, and may help open their minds and hearts to others who may be struggling.
Supporting Yourself Emotionally
If you are still considering ways to share your LGBT status with loved ones, be sure to treat yourself with compassion.
Ask yourself what is keeping you from sharing your truth; is it fear of rejection or mockery? Establish some affirmations for yourself around those specific fears, such as “I am worthy of an authentic life; no outside approval is needed.”
Program the affirmations
Program the affirmations into the calendar on your phone and set it as a recurring event so it will regularly remind you of these truths. Maybe you need to hear it everyday or once per week, but the reinforcement of supportive thoughts is crucial.
Create Your Vision
Another self-supporting idea is to envision the type of response you would hope for from others. Often when people daydream about coming out, they tend to prepare for the worse-case scenario.
While it does make sense to entertain the possibility that your loved ones may react badly, it may be setting you up to expect the worst without good cause.
What if your loved ones react positively toward your coming out as LGBT, or simply acknowledge it and have a neutral response? Sure, some people may not respond well, but others will likely handle it just fine.
Remember, you are not responsible for others’ reactions and if there is discomfort with your LGBT status, that reflects their own bias and closed-mindedness, and that’s not about you at all.
Be More Concerned About Your Own Feelings
Try to be more concerned with your own feelings and how to care for your emotional health rather than worrying about how others feel about your LGBT status. Afterall, you don’t get mad at loved ones for being straight, right? And if you did, would they care?
Probably not. Part of undermining homophobia and transphobia is delegitimizing its power. Prioritizing your own wellness and opinion of yourself is a great way to join that revolution, whether you are open about your LGBT status or trying to figure out how to go about it.