Coming Out of the Closet

6 Aug

How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen:

So you’re a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender teen, and you haven’t told anybody yet. It’s okay. Being GLBT is great. And, admit it, the closet isn’t always a good place to be. This how-to is here to help you pull yourself out in a fairly painless fashion. With the help provided in this how to, we can all become better people through unity.

1)    Make sure you’re sure of your sexual orientation. If you’re still trying to figure it out, it’s not the best time to start telling people. Only if you’ve reached the point at which you know and have accepted that you’re gay or bisexual should you consider telling others. This is the crucial step. If you are not sure if you are gay but you tell everyone you are, it will lead to trouble further down the road.

2)    Start with close friends. You can always know that your closest friends are more likely to be the ones who accept you. Who knows, maybe one of your friends even likes you themselves!

3)    Come right out with your statement. Beating around the bush or dodging the subject will A) scare your friend/family member or, B) give the impression that you’re ashamed. Instead, simply make your statement calmly and then discuss as necessary. Example: “Hey, bro, I called you here because I have something important to share with you. I’m gay.” Or “I’m so lucky to have a good friend like you that I can confide in. I’ve been going through something and I’m hoping I’ll be able to count on you for your friendship and support once I let you know that I’m a lesbian.” Don’t try to cushion it too much. Let them know it’s important to you, and then just take a deep breath and say it.

4)    Allow time to process and assimilate this revelation. Some family members and/or friends may need a little time to get used to the idea. Be gentle with them and give them time to come around. Remember, you didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Wow, I’m gay.” It took even you awhile to come to the realization.

5)    Understand that this is something that will have a HUGE impact on certain aspects of your life. Some friends may need to detach for a while. Some family members may act differently toward you. Others will be drawn to you. Things will change, but if you are patient and don’t try to force the issue – while at the same time, refusing to suppress or deny it – there’s a good change those changes will end up being very positive.

6)    Live ‘out’ with being in people’s faces about it. It’s great once you’re out, because then people are aware from the beginning of your relationship of who you are – there is no difficult “revelation” later on. But flaming around is only really funny and entertaining on TV or amongst other gays. Try to act naturally and as you normally always have. As more people in your social circle come to know you as an LGBT Teen, you’ll have less explaining to do.

7)    Be able and willing to discuss your orientation with sincerely interested individuals. Of course, you shouldn’t put up with jerks that just want to harass and humiliate you or make you the butt of jokes. But if, for example, a jock makes a joke, like “Don’t touch me, I might catch the gay.” And you respond with, “Well, my brother thinks he’s gay now. Maybe it is catching.” You can say, “Oh, wow, was it a big surprise to you? Do your folks know?” and if he is receptive to talking, you may turn this into a good thing for all of you. “Would it help to let him know he could talk to me?” might make the jock feel a lot more kindly toward both you and his brother, and toward gays in general. That’s the way we help move others toward tolerance and acceptance.

8)    If you want to get involved with the GLBT community, wait for your friends and family get used to your coming-out.

NOTE:

–       Bringing up gay issues from time to time before coming out as gay can help prepare people – seeing something on the news about same-sex marriage can spark a discussion and give you a chance to gauge how your friends or family feel about homosexuality.

–       If you think that anybody you come out to might not take the news too well, write some sort of script for yourself. Prepare for the worst-care scenario. It can be difficult to ad-lib if you’re facing criticism or adverse reaction.

–       If your orientation causes you to be teased or bullied, stay strong.

–       Make sure you are certain of yourself first. Nothing is worse than coming out of the closet as bi only to discover later you are actually gay. There is no rush on your sexuality – no time limit. Take your time to be certain before you shout your pride from the rooftops. Coming out once is hard enough, and the more time you ‘come out’ the easier it is.

–       Talk to other lesbian, gay, or bisexual people around your age online who have come out and ask them for advice. Or post a bulletin asking for advice anonymously. Others who have been through a similar situation can offer tips on how to do it – and possibly how to deal with any bad reactions there may be.

–       Only you can say who you are. Never be afraid to be yourself.

–       Don’t be defined by a label. You can choose what you call yourself, but remember that labels are superficial things that humans make up to categorize.

–       Remember that sexual orientation is only one of many characteristics that define one’s identity. A gay businessman may have virtually nothing in common with a gay artist. Don’t become a “PG” (Professional Gay) or let your sexual orientation become your primary identity.

WARNING:

It is great to be proud of who you are, but be careful as well. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world where everyone unconditionally accepts each other for who we are. Stay safe. If you are in an area or situation where you feel unsafe, leave it. If you are someplace you can’t leave (such as school) and feel unsafe, try to always have a friend with you and let authority figures know immediately of any mistreatment and definitely of any harm. Being hospitalized is far worse than being ousted.

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