By Wendy Garcia
Image via PopBuzz
In our society, everyone is seen as straight and cisgender by default unless stated otherwise through “coming out.” Coming out involves disclosing your sexuality or gender to people if you do not identify as straight or cisgender. Those in the LGBTQ+ community that have made their sexuality or gender known are considered “out of the closet,” while those who haven’t revealed their sexuality or gender to others are considered “closeted” or “in the closet.” Whether or not someone is out doesn’t invalidate their place in the LGBTQ+ community, and there is a lot that should be taken into consideration before deciding to come out.
You don’t have to come out
If there’s one thing I want people to take away from this, it's that coming out is not something you have to do if you don't want to. There are many reasons why people may not want to come out, whether it's due to safety, being unsure of their identity, not knowing who will be accepting of their identity, or simply not seeing it as something that needs to be done. If you don't want to come out, that's totally okay and you're still a valid member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Consider your safety
It can be difficult to know if it’s a wise idea to come out to people who could put your safety at risk. Whether it’s people you live with or peers you regularly come in contact with, if you're not sure if they'll be accepting of your sexuality or gender, then it'd probably be better to wait or not come out to them at all. As hard as it can be to keep your sexuality or gender a secret from others, it's also important to consider how your well-being could be affected if there's the possibility of being harmed by coming out. Ultimately, it's up to you if you want to come out to people who may not receive it well, but safety is definitely a factor to consider in making that decision.
It’s okay to come out more than once
Sexuality and gender is not fixed, and as a result, it's possible that the label(s) you use for yourself can change. If you came out to someone as one label but then realize that it doesn't fit you anymore, that's okay. And if you want to come out again, that's perfectly fine. We are constantly changing and growing, and the way we view ourselves is bound to change too. It’s okay to test out different labels, pronouns, names, expressions, etc. until you figure out what suits you best.
Take your time
Figuring out your sexuality or gender is not easy and can take some time. For some, it could take a few months. For others, it could take several years or even their entire lives before they're sure of their sexuality or gender. Don't feel pressured to come out to people as soon as possible and focus more on doing what makes you happy and being the best version of yourself.
You don’t have to come out to everyone
You can define if you're out however you want. If you only want to come out to a few close loved ones, that's totally fine. If you want to come out to everyone around you, that's also okay. It doesn't matter how many people you're out to, you can define your standing on being out however you want.
Don’t out anyone
It’s important that everyone has autonomy over who knows about their sexuality or gender and when they disclose that. Because of this, you shouldn't reveal a person’s sexuality or gender to others if they're not ready. This could put them at risk of being harmed by unaccepting people or make them uncomfortable in discussing their identity when they weren’t ready to disclose it. If you’re worried about disclosing anything about someone, check in with them to see what they’re comfortable with others knowing. Unless someone has explicitly told you that you can reveal their sexuality or gender to others, let individuals have control over their decision to come out.
Written by writer Wendy Garcia