Coming Out as Queer on Your Terms
By: Gregory E. Koch, Psy.D. | December 30, 2022
This article is inspired by friends and clients who recently shared with me about their coming out journey. In my article Relationship Tips for Gay Men…and anyone else smart enough to read this article, I suggest that gay men “celebrate their gay” by being themself in as many spaces as possible. This article will expand on this idea and provide guidance for anyone Coming Out as Queer.
When to Come Out
I encourage those who “come out”, or tell their truth, to do so on their own terms. This means that you have full autonomy to let others know about the diversity of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity whenever the time is right for you.
There is no right time to come out except when you are ready.
Take the pressure off yourself to come out in a particular way or time. For example, if you decide to come out to your family over an upcoming holiday, it is okay to change your plans if it doesn’t feel right at the time. You don’t owe anyone anything. Your coming out is for you!
How to Come Out
Come out by whatever method works best for you. For example, I lived with my mother for about six months after I finished college. I did this because I knew living at home would help me tell her that I was gay. After a couple of months, I wrote a coming out letter to her and left it with a helpful book on the kitchen counter. I went away for the weekend and gave her some time to process her thoughts and feelings. When we talked about it later, we were able to do so in a calm and caring manner. This strategy worked best for me, but it may feel better for others to have a face-to-face or phone conversation.
Avoid coming out by text message. We lose a lot of communication when we use text messages, especially when we have emotional conversations. This often leads to misunderstandings. Instead, try a more personal approach, like an in-person conversation, phone, or video call, or even a handwritten letter.
What to Share
You decide the information you provide to your loved ones. Everyone is entitled to their feelings and reactions (assuming they aren’t abusive), and you don’t need to manage other people’s feelings. It may be helpful to give your loved one some time and space to process, like I did with my mother. She was able to take care of herself in her own way, and it didn’t fall on me to manage her feelings.
When you share in a mature, caring way, you are not responsible for the feelings and reactions of others.
Set boundaries in this process to take care of yourself. Remember, it’s not your job to educate the world, including your loved ones, about queerness. It’s their job to educate themselves. Those who love us will do so in time.
Support is Available
Coming out as Queer can be a very difficult process. It takes a great deal of courage, and personal understanding to broach these important and meaningful conversations with your loved ones. Coming out is also a wonderful thing. It is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing yourself, your sexual orientation and identity. You may find it helpful to work with a professional San Diego Psychologist who specializes in LGBTQ+ – related concerns.
Although coming out can be difficult, it can also be a very liberating and freeing process. You may feel like you can finally be authentic and true to who you are. You may even find a whole community of people like you and feel supported and inspired. Contact Us today to schedule an appointment with a member of our talented team of therapists at Therapy Changes. Coming out doesn’t have to be a lonely process. Help and support is available.