Stage two: Aha!
by David Clarke
So, how do you know that you have moved from stage one to stage two, when coming out? Sometimes that’s not easy to tell because confusion can be such a persistent part of this coming out business. But there should be this moment sooner or later where you look at yourself and go: “Right. I am Lesbian! Gay! Bisexual! Transgendered! (enter whichever attribute is suitable for you)”.
So, now that you have cleaned up your inner closet, there is a completely new challenge in sight. Now, that YOU know who you are (at least in an LGBT sense), Will you let the world know?
Who should know?
It’s kinda hard to find a sweetheart if nobody is supposed to know that you are LGB. Admitting to feeling you are another gender, even if only temporarily might be not enough if there’s nobody else to acknowledge who you really are.
So, here’s more tricky business really. It’s finding a way of coming out to others, so many places where you can identify yourself as LGBT but you don’t have to of course. It is only natural though that you will want some people in the picture about who you are. And the closer the people the more difficult the whole thing might be. So, let’s talk about family and friends!
There’s just one thing to remember for starters. You had time to figure out the new you a little bit; others haven’t had that chance yet. So maybe you have to take it slow. There might be those who change the traditional Sunday dinner into a coming out party, stand up it front of ma, da, the five beloved siblings, nana and Uncle Herbert, raise a glass of apple juice for a toast and say, “Here’s to the rainbow! Embrace your new LGBT family member! A salute to all things queer!”
As much as this might work for some, it might not be the way to go, for you.
Now, we have heard many ways of coming out to your family, including the one where you send an email to reveal your innermost feelings. Or where people just leave a note on the kitchen table before running off to stay with best friends for a couple of days…
Whichever way you choose, try and find something that you feel most comfortable with and that might also suit your folks.
Friends are another interesting one. Some people come up with this strange notion that they might loose friends because of who they are. Which is a paradox, when you think about it more closely. A friend is a person who for some reason or the other just loves you the way you are and for who you are.
This whole coming out thing can become a little test of heart though and you will probably find out who your friends are and who you can put back into the little box saying “acquaintances” on the lid. Friends can be a great support in the further coming out journey of course. Old friends and new friends that you will find when you start going to all those LGBT places.
Families are not the only ones who LGBT children might want to come out to. There are also friends. And school/ college. And work. … The list could probably go on for a good while. Any rules about coming out there? Not really to be honest.
Being LGBT is an important part of your life. No doubt. But how important is it to let all those people know? This is an easier question for some than it is for others of course. Being LGB is one thing and a good few people are taking the approach that their private life should also stay private. For Trans people this is a whole different story, especially if you are planning to transition fully to the other gender.
Schools, colleges and work places should have a policy on equality and anti-bullying. So, if you have chosen to be “out” there and things haven’t been going according to plan, be aware of your rights! Nobody is allowed to push you round or make you feel bad for who you are. You might discover some real surprises. You might find out that a lot of people are more open to LGBT issues than you might have expected. It might be you who needs to re-adjust some attitudes, not them…
David is the youth officer with Gay Wexford and the author of the coming out guide on the Youth page at GayWexford.com. For more details of Gay Youth Wexford see their facebook page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org