This article was published on February 24th, 2021
For many, coming out of the closet is an integral part of living their best life. It is not just a moment of freedom but also one of self-discovery and acceptance. However, for others, it may be a period fraught with anxiety as so much is at stake.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to assess the situation before making that big decision to come out. Asking yourself questions such as: “Am I ready to come out?”, “Why do I want to come out?” or “Is there a good support system in place?” will help you evaluate your circumstances and set the pace for coming out to a close friend(s) or family.
Timing matters too. Only come out when you’re ready.
So, as you take some deep, thoughtful considerations on when, whether or who you should disclose this information to, here are eight tips to help you liberate yourself from the closet.
Take your time
Some people feel a great deal of pressure deciding the right time to come out. Don’t be in no rush whatsoever. Take your sweet time. The decision to come out is about you and not your friends or family. Do not lose sight by trying to please others in pursuit of happiness. Only come out when you’re ready.
You don’t have to come out to pretty much everyone simultaneously. Take baby steps getting there. If you find it more comfortable opening up to your close friend or a guidance counsellor instead of, say, your family, then do so. Consider the people you find caring and more accepting before coming out to others.
Your label doesn’t matter
Do not feel pressured to identify with a particular label. If you want to embrace gay and queer labels, adopt them. But remember, you do not owe anyone an explanation if you don’t choose a label. What matters is that you are true to yourself regardless of the label people decide to stick on you.
Be mindful who you come out to
Be careful when choosing the person you come out to. Go after the person you trust more than anyone else. You’re better off opening up to an accepting or receptive person than people likely to reject you. Remember, you are at a vulnerable stage. Any form of hostility could prove detrimental.
Prepare for different reactions
People react differently when you come out. In fact, not everyone will respect your coming out decision. Some could end up cutting you off completely or spreading the word to everyone else.
However, stay calm regardless of the pushback. Manage your emotions and surround yourself with the right support system.
Give people time to adjust.
Coming out may come as a complete shock even to your closest friends. They’ll have many questions as they come to terms with this aspect of who you truly are. So, allow them some time and space to digest the news. Be sensitive to their feelings. However, assure them that you are ready to answer their questions if anything is not clear.
Reach out to a support network
Ensure you have a robust support system you can always rely on should any problems arise. Whether it’s your trusted friend, a close family member or counsellor, it is vital to have someone you can fall back on during such a period.
You can also reach out to LGBTQ support groups within your city or virtually if you are uncomfortable reaching out to family and friends.
Stay positive and enjoy your newfound freedom.
There’s no better feeling than unchaining yourself from the shackles of the closet. You feel free and comfortable in your skin. It’s such a fantastic feeling. Ignore other people’s opinions and focus on doing you. What matters is that you are doing the right thing for you. Liberate yourself, hun!