Help! I’m Coming Out

A very important phone number for anyone who is dealing with a crisis while coming out.  The people from The Trevor Project are here to help 24/7.  1-866-488-7386

Also check out my experience of coming out and what I learned from it.

Coming out can be a scary, confusing and emotionally draining time.  That is putting it nicely.  But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world! People come out at all different ages and stages in their lives.  No matter what, you need to know that you have support and that there is nothing wrong with you.  Frankly, there is something wrong with the people that have any issue with you coming out.  I guess this might be the biggest thing to remember while you are coming out.  There is simply nothing wrong with you.

Support:
Everyone needs a strong support system while coming out.   The support system is different for everyone.  Support can consist of family members, friends, and members of the GLBT community, teachers, therapists and many others.  The person(s) supporting you must be supportive of the GLBT community.   You need to seek support from people or sources that will serve as a solid foundation.  While coming out it is imperative you surround yourself with loving, caring and forward-thinking individuals.

I am a visual person so here is a visual list.

Who to avoid when coming out:

  • People or organizations that are not pro-gay.  You have most likely heard enough negativity about being gay at this point in your life.  Do not go back for more.   Stay clear of all negative energy.  As part of this, you will need to be strong enough to identify the negative energy and be comfortable walking away from it.  There is NEVER a reason to keep someone in your life if they don’t support and love all of you.  Do not give anyone the option of being partially or passively supportive.
  • Romantic prospects.  STAY AWAY from seeking the support of someone you are romantically involved in.  Trust me here.  This will not set you up for success in any way.  You need to find non-romantic support.  We have to keep sex/support/love separate here.   Keep the support pure so it cannot be clouded down the road.
  • Extremists of any kind.  Any extremist is not a good idea.  The key here is keeping things calm and steady.

Examples of good support:

  • Friends.  Same gender or opposite gender.  For guys, typically it is easier to find the support of a girlfriend.  That is a friend that is a girl :0)
  • Family.  This would of course be a best-case scenario.  We are not all lucky enough to have family that is supportive.  If you are fortunate enough to have a family member that will actually support you and not judge you, then go for it! Remember that some people don’t know what they don’t know.  My parents are from Iran.  They knew nothing about what it meant to be gay.  It took a lot of time and multiple conversations to teach them.  Don’t feel lost if you can’t run to your parents here.  There is always hope.  Worst-case scenario, you walk away from the family that is not supportive.  It’s their problem if they can’t accept you.  This is a VERY difficult choice to make and not one that you have to make right away.
  • Family friends.  Depending on your age and your family situation, you may have family friends that you can speak to.  Or, you may also have a parent or family member of a friend that you can speak to.
  • Someone who has come out of the closet.  Sounds simple right? Be smart here.  You can choose a few people.  And they don’t always have to be someone you know very well.  People are typically more than happy to help here.  If you are younger, find someone near your age and find someone older than you.  Again, it is very important that you keep this relationship strictly platonic.

Find your inner strength:

Once you find your support system you have to also learn to rely on yourself.  Set aside all negative feelings and let them go.  Any shame, doubt or self-loathing that you have is wrong.  It has been implanted there from years of brainwashing.  That brainwashing may be seeing boy + girl couples on TV, in movies, in magazines.  It may be from listening to family or friends say hateful things about the GLBT community.  It may even come from religion.  Either way, it is brainwashing and wrong.  You have to understand and accept that.
We all find our inner strength differently.  I listened to Mariah Carey and Madonna obsessively while I was coming out.  Sounds so cliché but it is what it is.  Check out the words to Through The Rain, On The Outside and Hero by Mariah Carey.

We all deserve to be loved for who we are.  Being gay is in your DNA.  It is not a choice.  It is the same as having blond hair, freckles or brown eyes.  Period end of story.   Remember, people thought the earth was flat for a VERY long time.  Some people probably still believe that (yikes)…you have to remember that in order to come out and have a healthy sense of self, you have to realize that you are forward thinking and evolved.  Not to say you are ‘better’ than anyone but you are certainly different and will need to understand that.  Be you.  Be proud.

Self-Esteem:

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  EVERYONE is insecure.  We all have issues at some point in life.  Gay, straight, white, black, Jewish, Catholic and everything in between.  Why? The real answer to that is because people are CRAZY and STUPID.  Not the people who are insecure but the people who have made them insecure!

Ok here it is.  Media and religion play a HUGE part in shaping who we are.  Think about it.  You grow up and you see images of men, women, children and families.  No matter who you are, you are exposed to someone else’s idea of ‘ideal’.  That may not sound like it means much but it does.  From the  moment you are born, you are told what is normal and what is not.  Boys wear blue and girls wear pink.  Boys don’t cry and girls do.  Boys support girls.  Men make the money and women raise the family.  Pretty people are blonde, tall and skinny…oh and they have no body hair! People are airbrushed so much in advertisements that sometimes they themselves don’t recognize the image in the magazine.  Listen…my point here isn’t to put anyone down or to cast doubt on religion.  It is simply to state that you need to understand that there is no ‘normal’.  Let all this go.  Easier said than done.  Find the strength within yourself to acknowledge that we are all works in progress.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are less than.  Don’t mistake being different for anything other than a gift.  Simple as that.

Resources:

One of my favorite books: The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs.  I wish I had this book when I was coming out.  http://www.amazon.com/Velvet-Rage-Overcoming-Growing-Straight/dp/0738215678/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383682010&sr=1-1&keywords=velvet+rage

Human Rights CampaignResource Guide To Coming Out

Human Rights CampaignComing Out At Work

Trevor LifelineThe Trevor Project’s 24/7 LGBT Crisis And Suicide Prevention Hotline

The Center: http://www.gaycenter.org/

Lastly, a little humor:

I’d love to hear from you.  Do you have a coming out story? Need some advice? Please use the form below to get in touch.  I love hearing from people so don’t be shy!

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