Coming Out: 4 Things to Help You on Your Journey
Taking the first steps into a new world
Although liberating, coming out can be also traumatic. Hugely so.
You know it's the right thing to do, but still your mind is wracked with doubt. Am I going to be accepted? Am I suddenly going to find out that someone close to me is homophobic, and have that relationship fracture? Even worse, do I run the risk of alienation or perhaps vitriol?
The truth is that ALL of those are possible outcomes. And, the chances are - sadly - yes; you will probably experience at least one - if not all - in some shape or form. And that will hurt. Immeasurably so.
However, you shouldn't be diverted from your path. This is your journey, and you shouldn't be waylaid by another's views. You need to remain steadfast. And here's five things to help you remain so:
1. Do it your way.
If you want to throw a gargantuan, glitzy party, do it.
Alternatively, if you want to quietly tell one person at a time, feel free.
If you want to drop little hints on social media ('testing the water', as it were), building up to some form of announcement, don't let anyone tell you you can't.
If you'd prefer to tell no-one at all, and only inform someone about your sexuality after it's been directly referenced, that's entirely your choice too; coming out doesn't have to be public - this is about you embracing who you are: In many respects, other people don't have to be involved at all.
And if they are? They do so on your terms.
Why is this so important?
It's not just that this your journey, it's also that, even if you're feeling outwardly confident, you're still vulnerable. Although coming out might be entirely the best thing for you, you're also emotionally exposing yourself. Don't exacerbate that by doing something you're uncomfortable with, or that might add to the potential stress. Big or small, it doesn't matter; just be true to what you want.
2. Accept that not everyone is going to be okay.
You will receive an ocean of kindness and support. Some which will surprise and inspire you. However...
Disbelief, confusion, anger... let's be honest - there's going to be a range of initial reactions. Many of which would normally be reserved for news of an imminent Armageddon. However, as long as you haven't done anything wrong (and coming out is in no way 'wrong'), then those reactions aren't on you. You can walk people through it, but they are accountable for their emotions. Not you.
If anyone is less than accommodating, that's on them. You haven't done anything wrong. You haven't.
All you can do is...
3. Give people time.
Some people will accept your news with no issue whatsoever. Others... let's say they might need some time to digest what you've said. And that's all about all you've got. You can't say anymore than you already have. All you've got left is giving people some space to perform whatever mental gymnastics they need to.
Most will. In a lot of instances, that's all people need - time and space.
Some may come back with questions (and some may have a lot). As long as they're asking them compassionately, reciprocate. Try and answer them.
But be patient. Wait.
Whilst you do...
4. Practice self-care.
I truly hope none of this is traumatic for you. I hope it all unfolds smoothly, and beautifully. However, even if it does, you still need to do something for 'you.' Self-care is always important - never more so than now.
Do whatever it is that makes you happy. Calmer. Proud. Treat yourself to celebrate the start of this new chapter in your life.
As you give people that time and space, focus on you. On being better. It's a win-win.
Most of all savor this time. You did it.
And I truly hope you were able to do it your way, with the people closest you supporting you along the way.