Coming out as LGBTQ+ to friends and family (or anybody, really) can be super nerve-wracking and scary. It can be tough to be vulnerable and tell people about yourself without knowing how they are going to react. It can also feel like there’s a lot of pressure to tell people, or just to “get it over with.” There’s no need to rush it — after all, it’s a big step, and you deserve to feel comfortable with your decision.
You should come out at your own pace. In fact, it’s totally your decision whether or not you want to come out at all — you don’t owe it to anyone! You know yourself best. This isn’t a list of things you have to do, either — just a few tips and tricks from someone who has been there before.
Make sure your safety comes first. If you’re in a position where telling friends, family, colleagues, or people important to you will end up being harmful, it’s okay to wait. Prioritizing your mental health and safety is always priority number one. It can be hard to keep things from people you care about, but if you think their reaction will be detrimental to you in any way, you’re allowed to take a step back.
Remember that you’ve lived with this for much longer than the people you’re telling. Sometimes it can feel hurtful when people you’ve come out to tell you that they “need some time to process,” or any variation of the sort. It doesn’t always mean that they aren’t accepting! Remember — you’ve known this about yourself for a long time and you’ve had time to embrace it. If the people you’re coming out to have no idea that it’s coming, it’s natural that they might feel a little shell-shocked. They really, truly might just need a minute or two in order to let what you’ve told them sink in. It’s a big deal! There’s no need to rush it.
Let people ask respectful questions. If your friends or family have questions, that’s okay. Sometimes people who are unfamiliar with the LGBTQ+ community will have a lot of them; it usually just means they’re trying to get to know this part of you better. As long as the questions aren’t intrusive or rude and you feel comfortable answering them, it might put both you and the asker at ease.
You don’t have to have a label. Maybe you’re just figuring things out and don’t know what to “call yourself.” That’s cool! Sexuality is fluid and you don’t have to have all the answers right away. Leaving things open can reduce some of the pressure, and it gives you some more opportunities to get to know who you’re into.
Some people aren’t going to get it. And that’s okay. Despite how far we’ve progressed (it’s 2019, after all — at this point, it shouldn’t even be a thing!), some people won’t understand and won’t try to understand. This is hard, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re completely awesome and brave for being vulnerable enough to share it with someone. Their opinion doesn’t negate your identity.
Finally, you’re valid in who you are. You can be who you want, love who you want, and dress how you want. No matter what people’s reactions are, remember that you’re full of incredible courage and completely awesome.
Be sure to check out Hey! VINA to find other amazing vinas in the LGBTQ+ community!