So you’ve worked it out, you aren’t cis and/or straight. That took a lot of guts and I congratulate you. I really do. But now you have decided to face everyone else, you need to turn around to them and explain what is going on in your head. This is possibly the scariest part. You don’t know how they will react, what are they like with LGBT issues? Will they welcome you with open arms? Will anything change? It is a scary time, and today I just wanted to cover some of the ways you can come out to people, how to deal with the reactions good and bad, and where to seek help if you need it.
I would however like to preface this by saying that it is important to remember coming out is a privilege and not everyone has the ability to do so. If you are in this position and would like to speak to someone, my inbox is always open either on here or by email or facebook.
Firstly, it is not your job to educate everyone. However, it would be useful if you know as much as possible about your identity so you can answer general questions that may come up. Be aware some identities are more known than others, someone may have a better idea of what being gay means to being non-binary or even bisexual.
Know your limits. There are some questions that you will not feel comfortable answering and that is totally fine. Being able to say that a question is not appropriate is important. Have resources avaliable to give to people, even if that is in terms of internet links.
On that vein, read all information you provide first! There are conflicting views online and in literature so be careful that you find stuff you actually agree with that gives an accurate portrayal. It is way too easy for stuff to be untrue. Be careful.
Explore different methods of coming out. There are lots of different ways you can do it, think about what would be best for the people you are talking to. Personally I came out to my mum by letter, and that didn’t work for her very well, she would have rather I had been able to talk to her face to face. It really depends on the person or people.
Some ways of coming out
Letter/Email – Can be good if the person is okay with it being slightly more informal. It may be worth explaining why you chose to write instead of face to face.
Pro’s: A place to organise your thoughts without stumbling, can add resources, gives chance for someone to mull over the information and not get crossed wires with what is written
Con’s: Can come across as informal, perhaps less feeling
Social Media – Good for coming out to a lot of people at once, you can organise your thoughts and brush it off as not as important if you want. Often useful to do for those you aren’t too worried about knowing, but don’t have the time to tell.
Pro’s: Multiple people can be told at once, can weed out people who you don’t need in your life through negative comments, quick, easy
Con’s: If you aren’t aware of who is on your social media profile you could end up coming out to people you don’t mean to, some people may be offended you didn’t tell them in person, could leave you open to more negative feedback at once
Face to Face – Personal touch, if you are good with your words this can be great as a method of coming out.
Pro’s: Personal, easier to answer questions, can be easier to clarify parts
Con’s: Can be scary, especially if you are nervous. Can also be difficult if you struggle with wording things
Phone call – Similar to face to face, especially if you struggle with speaking to someone in person.
Pro’s: Talking to a person themselves, can answer questions easier, can clarify parts of what you are saying
Con’s: Some people may see it as informal, can be very scary, could end up talking to the wrong person if someone else picks up and you don’t realise
Text – Similar to social media, can be easier to tell multiple people at once.
Pro’s: Can write out a fair bit and tell a few people at once, can explain yourself in words
Con’s: You may not be able to write everything if you are limited to how many texts you can send, some people may see it as too informal
Subtle hints until they ask you – a difficult one to pull off but if you can, congratulations.
Pro’s: You don’t have to outright say it
Con’s: What you see as subtle, someone else may be oblivious to. It is difficult to actually work something like that out unless you are looking for it
When you have come out, you need to be aware of how to deal with the aftermath. You may lose some people, you may gain some friends. Just like any major event in life, people come and go. You may lose and gain people you never expected to. I was distant from a lot of people already, and once I moved down to Brighton I gained a lot of friends in the queer scene.
Know who to cut out. If people are damaging your health, refusing to come around and won’t accept it, you are allowed to cut them out. Obviously you have to weigh up what is going to be better for you, but know there will always be others around you.
Some people may treat you like a token and also may out you. Be aware of this, and make it clear to people if you are and are not happy for them to talk about you as some people will. If you come out as trans or non-binary, some people may think it appropriate to introduce you to people as X, that used to be Y. Or this is my friend who used to be a boy but is now a girl, etcetera. It isn’t a nice thought but some people do it without thinking. It may be worth making it clear to people that you are not happy with that happening (or you are, in which case that’s fine, it just isn’t for everyone).
Have places to go and people to speak to if things go wrong. This can be online or off. Personally I have both, friends around me at queer support groups, as well as Facebook groups, forums and websites. Some of my favourites for NB people and Trans Masculine people are TMSA-UK on Facebook (secret group), FTM Brighton (Facebook page open but group secret), NB UK (secret group), and the non-binary group on Facebook (secret). If you feel like you need extra support and are Trans Masculine/Non-Binary send me a message on here, or Facebook, and I will have a chat about what groups may help you and if possible I will aim to add you to them.
There are inevitably things I have left out of here, so please do comment and let me know anything I have forgotten to include. I hope this post was helpful to some of you out there, or a little refresher to see how complicated it can be for those that are lucky enough not to have to ‘come out’.
Good luck to everyone in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. My topic tomorrow is Drag! I hope you enjoyed the post and will join me tomorrow. If you want to see more posts from the challenge, go here!