The AfterEllen.com Huddle: Our Advice on Coming Out

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October 11th is National Coming Out Day and while it’s becoming more and more accepted to be LGBTQ, it’s still a very personal thing to come out. What advice would you like to share with people who want to come out?

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Grace Chu: While it is becoming more and more accepted to be LGBT, we do have to keep in mind that there are still pockets in the U.S. where it would be inadvisable for young people people to come out. 40% of homeless youth are LGBT—many end up on the street when intolerant families or communities reject them. And we have to keep in mind that this website is seen all over the world, and some countries are not very welcoming of LGBT people. So rather than give Pollyanna-esque advice to the vulnerable, I’d say the following: if you are still dependent on your family financially and they may not be as generous if you come out, wait until you are self sufficient. Getting an education and getting into a position where you can help yourself and other LGBT people will do much more in the long run. There are places where you can thrive as an out LGBT person, but you have to gain access there first. And yes, you can go back and serve LGBT folks in underserved and intolerant communities, and I know people from where I grew up in the south who have, but you have to get into a position where you can do so first. I know this is not very cheery, but the last thing I want is to give advice that may hinder anyone’s progress. 

Valerie Anne: My advice would be that the most important person to come out to is yourself. Coming out to myself was the hardest part for me, and it was something I fought against for almost a full decade. Once I finally figured out how I felt and what I wanted and that it was okay, that it was normal, that I wasn’t the only one who felt the way I did, it was a huge weight off my chest. A heaviness I hadn’t even fully realized I was carrying around with me all that time, a pain that had felt as part of me as the freckles on my nose—gone. I felt like I was floating, like I was free of a heavy chain I had wrapped around myself. (With the help of society and Catholic school and all that jazz.) A chain I once thought was keeping me tethered to something safe, but was actually holding me back from being my truest self. A chain I didn’t need anymore. So even if you’re in a situation where you can’t come out publicly yet, come out to yourself. And learn to love the real you. You’re not alone, you’re not broken. You’re just you. And as a wise man once said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” 

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Lucy Hallowell: After you come out to yourself and realize that being gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans/queer etc. you can start building your team. Go ahead and cherry pick those people who you just know are going to think you being you is the greatest thing. I came out to a friend first. I’m sure she had thought I was gay from about five minutes after we met and we had discussed a lot of stuff around maybe being gay before I came out to her. So, I knew she was a good person to tell. And then I told my sister who I also knew would be great and every time I told these people they gave me so much strength and support that I felt much stronger than I would have on my own. Because, dammit, I had a team of people who were there with me. 

Erin Faith Wilson: Give people a chance to know the real you. Often times we hide who we are because we think we will be judged or mistreated so we never give people the opportunity to prove to us that they in fact feel the exact opposite of what we thought they would feel. Don’t assume you know what their reactions will be to you coming out because people are a lot more accepting than you might think! The more people you tell, the more love and support you will find. Will everyone support it? Maybe not. But odds are, the amount of people that do far out weighs the amount of people that don’t.