Youth Health

Coming Out Tips

1. Give people time. For some people, learning that someone they know is gay, especially when they did not anticipate it, is a lot of information to process quickly. Expecting someone to immediately understand and accept the information is unrealistic. Being willing to speak with them more about it later allows time for thought without pressure.

2. Choose a space and time that is non-threatening. There may not ever be a “right time and place” but at least you can choose some that are better than others. For example, telling your friend in the middle of a crowded room at a party might not work out but telling her when you are spending some time alone together might find your friend more receptive to what you are saying. Ideally, choose a place that allows for someone to leave if they need to. Sometimes we do not get a chance to pick when and where we come out to someone. Offering to talk more about it later at a time and place that is mutually agreed upon can help if someone is not able to speak about it at that particular moment.

3. Prepare yourself. If you are not ready to come out, take some more time. Some people are ready on day one and still others take years to be able to tell someone else. Also remember that you might be comfy with coming out to some people now but coming out to other people in your life might take some more time.

4. Determine who needs to be told personally and who does not. One of the biggest complaints from some family members was that I did not tell them myself. Either my mother was the messenger or they figured it out when I sent out my marriage announcements. You may be fine if your mother tells your sister but it might mean more to your sister and make her feel more appreciated to hear it from you. Do not feel like you have to have a heart to heart with everyone in the world, though. Trust me, it cannot be done. Instead, for those whom I did not speak to about it specifically, I wove my partner’s name into conversation and did not attempt to hide certain aspects of my life.

5. If you are still dependent on someone for money and housing, make sure you have a back-up financial and housing plan before you come out to them.

6. Many people have questions about the coming out process. Being willing to answer people’s questions can make it easier for them to understand what you are telling them. Of course, you do not have to answer questions that make you feel uncomfortable. For me, there is a limit. I might answer a sincere question from a friend but not from a stranger.

7. Having resources for people to check out allows people to seek help on their own. They may just have a few questions on how to be more supportive or they may need to talk to someone more in depth to figure out what everything means.


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