National Coming Out Day is upon us, so I thought I could do my part and try to help those who are still in the closet and are thinking about coming out offering a little advice. Obviously there is no right way to come out, we all do it at different times in our lives and in different ways, but I feel like I have enough experience in the field to be able to share with you all what I’ve learnt over the years.
First of all, wait until you are ready. I know this must sound like silly advice but the truth is, after a while everyone feels the need to come out to the world, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ready to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you have to repress your feelings and keep it a secret, I’m just saying that you need to be ready to face possible rejections. If you are not 100% comfortable in your own skin, how are you going to be able handle ignorant people? This leads me straight (pun intended) to my second golden rule: take it one step at the time.
While in the movies rules are slightly different and, whenever someone comes out of the closet, they seem to be doing it on national television, my experience tells me that life does not quite work the same way. First of all, we don’t come out just once. We don’t come out just once and we are never done coming out because there are always new people entering our lives who have no idea that we aren’t straight (unless maybe you act like Sean Hayes on Will&Grace and, in that case, they might suspect it). It is a process, not a moment, so it is very important to find someone you trust (a friend, a parent, a sibling…) and come out to them first. This way you are going to have an ‘ally’, someone who is going to support you and stand by you throughout the whole process. Believe me, once you come out to that first person everything is going to look so much easier.
Also, you need to pick your moment. By that I mean that you can’t just force it, you are going to know when the most appropriate time is: take advantage of it. Just to name a few examples of coming out ways to avoid, all taken from my personal collection: you probably shouldn’t come out during a fight, while you are drunk or when the other person is driving. Of course these are all mistakes that we are bound to make, but maybe try making different ones, just to mix it up a little bit…!
If you feel like you want to come out, but you can’t summon the strength to actually do it, you can always use a little trick that I’ve perfected when I couldn’t bring myself to come out to my mom. It takes a while, you need to be patient, but it usually pays off. You can start by dropping hints that may make someone question your sexuality: it could be anything from the way you dress, to the shows you watch (yes, I did leave my The L Word DVD collection on a visible shelf), to the things you say. Of course you don’t need to be obvious, you just need to put that thought into their mind, so that from that moment on they are going to start looking for ‘signs’ that would confirm their theory. Of course everyone knows that when you are looking to prove something you see signs even when there aren’t any, so that should do the trick. The most important thing about this approach though, is that while that person is considering the possibility that you might be gay, they are also ‘digesting’ it, at their own pace and on their own terms. Then, when they are ready and they already know how to handle the situation, they are just going to ask, and all you have to do is say yes.
What I’m trying to say here is that however and whenever you come out for the first time, it is always a really big deal, so I guess all you need is a little courage and the awareness that you are never really alone. No matter how bad things might get, there will always be someone who loves you for who you are.
Is anyone in the process of coming out? I would love to hear about it, let me know in the comments below!