If you are gay or bisexual who has already come out of the closet, you know just how difficult that experience was. But the reality is that so many men (and women) are still living in the closet and desperately want to come out, but don’t know how. And even though so many people nowadays come out with such positive experiences, getting to that point can be a huge struggle. For people who are thinking about coming out of the closet, this is a guide of the top seven tips for doing so in the healthiest way possible, with your wellness in mind. Take these tips to heart will definitely help to make this process as smooth and positive for you as possible.
#1 – There is no pressure to come out
This is the most important tip we can give you. Even though you are reading this article right now, it doesn’t that you are obligated to come out anytime soon. Everyone should be able to come out on their own terms and when they are ready. And most importantly, you should be coming out for yourself and not for others. Through this process the focus should always be on you – if and when you are ready to come out, your close family and friends will support you because they know you did it for yourself.
#2 – Come Out to One Person First
If you are not ready to come out to everyone all at once, it is perfectly acceptable to come out to just one person. Find someone you trust wholeheartedly and who you feel will at the very least respect your decision, if not absolutely embrace it. Once you see how supportive they are of you, you’ll realize that you can eventually come out to the rest of your friends and family.
An added bonus is that they can be available for you to talk to help you come out to others. Having someone at your side who has already proven to you that the people you love can be accepting of you for who you are is invaluable.
#3 – Remember that your sexuality has nothing to do with your religion
You should never feel that your sexuality conflicts with your religion. That is not the case whatsoever. In fact, whatever religion is, you can find support groups online with other people who share your religion and sexuality. This will help reinforce to you that you are not turning your back on your faith because of your sexual orientation. If anyone says otherwise, it simply means that they do not understand how unique and special you are and everyone should be respected and loved all the same.
#4 – Always think about the positives
All of the fears and worries about finally coming out can easily derail your resolve to actually do it. As a counter, it is a good idea to constantly think about how coming out will change your life for the better. Remember that coming out is a truly liberating experience that allows you to be who you were always meant to be, and that in the long run you will be happier and better off for your decision to come out.
In other words, think about coming out as an exciting experience rather than an anxious one! It will help not only you physically get through telling your friends and family, but also help you stay strong in the immediate aftermath.
#5 – There is no need to label yourself
Even if you are ready to come out, you may not know how to explain it using traditional terms such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or whatever the case may be. Your identity is literally however you define yourself to be, and having a specific label is absolutely not necessary. The way you feel sexually and expressing that feeling with your friends and family during the coming out process is what matters, not some artificial label behind it.
If you are able to label yourself confidently and it helps you explain your feelings, the perfect. But if not, just forget about labels!
Along the same lines, don’t compare yourself to any stereotypes you see in the media about different sexualities. You are your own person and being concerned about not fitting a particular stereotype is detrimental to your mental wellbeing. We all know that stereotypes occur in areas other than sexuality, and in just about all cases, stereotypes stink! There’s no need to get caught up into that any more than you need to be.
#6 Remember that you are protected at school and in the workforce
This is a good reminder to have for those who are particularly scared about how their educational and professional lives may change because of coming out. But don’t worry – every school and workplace has a legal obligation to treat everyone fairly and not to discriminate based on sexuality (amongst other things). Not only that, but most organizations nowadays make it a point to teach and train everyone about sexuality, promoting a safe space for you once you come out.
#7 – Give Friends and Family Time If Needed
Despite what you hope, not all of your friends and family will be receptive and compassionate when you come out of the closet. Especially at the very beginning when you first come out. A lot of this has to do with them being shocked and surprised, which inadvertently comes across as disapproval. In that sense, they may need your support as well, so be supportive and with time you will see them eventually accept you for who you are.
Come Out And Get Ready to Really Start Living!
Although every person’s experience is different, coming out is always an amazing experience that truly liberates you, even if it may not seem that way at the beginning. Regardless of how the coming out process itself goes for you, remember that the end result will be a happier and healthier you. You can finally start living as who you were meant to be, and really start living! One last piece of advice that I would like to give to everyone out there is this: as hard as it may seem to come out of the closet, it is even harder living in the closet for the rest of your life. Always try to remember that, and when you are ready to come out, you will know deep in your heart. When that time comes, I wish you the absolute best of luck!