If you’re a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and are still in the closet, chances are, the thought of coming out must have crossed your mind. When I came out to some of my friends and family members I didn’t know how to go about it or what to expect. Even though everything turned out to be fine (eventually), looking back at the naive me, I wish there was someone to tell me the ins and outs of it. So here are the 9 things that I wish I knew and I believe you should know before coming out!
1. Coming Out Is A Choice, Not A Compulsion!
All the LGBTQIA+ movies and TV series portray coming out like a bridge of necessity that every queer person ought to cross to reach their ultimate queerness. Newsflash! It’s not! Coming out is just one simple thing – your choice! Well, not just the portrayal of queer people in media, but many a times queer friendships and/or our relationships with our loved ones can also build an environment of peer pressure, making one feel compelled to come out or feel guilty about ‘hiding’ such an important part of their life.
However, coming out is an extremely personal experience and no one but you get to decide when and IF you want to do it or not. Guilt and pressure should never result into it. Let the experience be your choice and not a compulsion.
2. Get Ready For A Barrage Of Questions
People you come out to will have questions. Lots of it! So just brace yourself for that. Now, you don’t have to answer each and every question, and you don’t need to know all the answers. Remember that coming out doesn’t automatically make you Master Shifu! So it’s okay to be Po instead. Let them ask their questions and answer whatever you can. Be honest about not knowing all the answers and have peace with it. There is nothing wrong in being a little confused, you know?
3. You Don’t ‘Have’ To Conform To Labels
When I first started questioning my sexuality I was very confused about who I am or what should I call myself. While the existing labels did make me feel a little comfortable about myself, I could never relate to a particular alphabet in the LGBTQIA+ dictionary. For a very long time I tried forcing myself to fit into a label, some label, any label! But then I realised that I am just being my own prosecutor who keeps telling you to choose! Choose between being straight or gay! Fit into something! Basically, I was bullying myself to be someone I didn’t feel like I am. It took me some time to come to terms with the fact that labels are man-made and I don’t need to adhere to it.
It took me some time to come in terms with the fact that labels are man-made. I am me. That’s all the label you’re going to make me fit into.
While it’s completely okay to identify with a label – in fact labels can be very useful in discussing one’s self and even oppression because it gives a vocabulary to your feelings – it’s equally okay to not fit into a particular label at all. There’s a reason we have that ‘+’ in LGBTQIA+.
4. Have A Back-Up Plan
While the society is slowly changing and becoming more accepting of various sexualities, not everyone will be understanding and accepting of who you are. That makes coming out tricky, especially when you’re coming out to your parents/guardian. If you know that your parents/guardian are not accepting of LGBTQIA+ community, think about waiting a little bit till you have a back-up plan, someone to fall back on or till you know that your parents will be okay about it. This is not a movie and I won’t be saying a filmy dialogue that “end main hamesha sab thik ho jata hai.” (everything gets better in the end). So be wise about it. Remember that your safety always comes first!
5. Holding On Or Letting Go – Your Decision
Coming out is a process which can make your bonds with your loved ones extremely strong or completely loose. Know that not everyone will have positive reaction to you coming out and it’s okay. People may have negative reactions and it’s up to you to decide how you want to move forward with them. Nobody but you get to decide how you want to deal with negative reactions. You can keep your line of communication open if you wish to or shut it down completely if it’s bringing you a lot of mental stress. Your happiness and mental peace should always be your priority.
6. Do Your Research
Talk to people who have went through the process and learn from their experiences. While no two experiences can be same and you will have your own unique learning and understanding of the entire process once you come out to people, talking to other queer people can definitely give you a lot of confidence and a sense of self. So read about it and talk to people till you feel ready!
7. Don’t Let Rejection Make You Lose Self Worth
I am not going to ask you to attain zen and be cool about rejections. We are all humans and it is painful to be rejected by people you have had a great relationship with. Rejection can be brutal and excruciating, but what it cannot be is a compass for you to value your self-worth. Don’t ever let anyone’s rejection make you lose that!
Rejection can be brutal and excruciating, but what it cannot be is a compass for you to value your self-worth.
Recognise rejection, address it, accept it and even cry over it. Give yourself time to move forward and once your heart is back in its place, go back to being your fabulous self!
8. Not Everything Will Be Okay Immediately
I can tell you all the good things like “Oh! Coming out is so wonderful and freeing” or “Just go for it, it’ll all be fine”, but truth be told, it can be a little more complicated than that. While there is no denying that coming out is one of the most liberating feeling, it is also important to be said in the same breath that not everything is rosy and wonderful about it.
You might lose a few people, have a few heartbreaks, be a little all over the place, get shut down and rejected and it won’t get better immediately. It takes time. You will take your time to deal with the few changes that has come your way after coming out and so will others. Accept it as it is. It will get better eventually. (Fingers crossed!)
9. Coming Out Never Ends
Coming out is a continuous process. With every passing year you’ll be inviting new people into your life and your relationship with old ones will keep changing. Hence, there will always be people in your life you will feel okay coming out to. So basically, the feeling of coming out never fades away!
While coming out can be scary for obvious reasons, it is about “You”! Don’t let others make it about them and don’t let anyone pull you down just because they don’t understand you. In the words of Ron Weasley, “Don’t let the muggles get you down!”
Featured Image Source: Curve