Hey Bestie: I’m in my late teens, and I’ve known for some time that I’m gay but I haven’t officially “come out”. Do I have to, or can I just let people work it out for themselves? Some of my close friends know and I’m not ashamed. But I just don’t know how to broach it with my parents. I think they know and I don’t think they’d have a problem with it but they’ve never directly asked. What should I do?
Like most LGBTIQA+ community members, nerves are normal when exploring the idea of ‘coming out’. Even if you believe your friends or parents might have an idea with regard to your sexual identity, guessing versus hearing it directly from you are two totally different things. However, it’s important to consider a few things prior to making the decision to talk to others about your sexual identity.
You know your friends and parents better than anyone else. Yet a conversation that is this important, it would be ideal to think through some parameters:
Choose the opportunity to discuss your sexual identity at the right time and at the right place. Think of it like this: you don’t want to be distracted and you don’t want the people you are telling to be distracted either. This conversation deserves respect and privacy – so somewhere quiet is a great option.
The most important and closest people to you, should know first followed by everyone else. Try to avoid posting on social media before you’ve shared the information with loved ones.
Be mindful that the first reaction may be exactly that…. a reaction and that if this is the first time that they are becoming privy to this information, it might surprise them….and that’s fine. Give them the time and space to manage the information and ask questions of you if they have any.
Set some boundaries. If there are people that you do not want to know, make that clear to the people you are telling. On the flip side, you might find the same request being asked of you to hold back the news from some other people as well. Be aware of how you plan to manage this if it does come up.
Above and beyond everything else – ensure your own personal safety & wellbeing. As I mentioned previously, you know your people better than anyone, if you anticipate that the news is not going to be well received or that you may be on the receiving end of verbal or physical abuse, you may want to reconsider the approach.
"Ultimately this is your life, your sexuality, and your decision. As much as possible, try to focus on the positives, be open about your thoughts and feelings."
Be willing to continue the conversation at a later date, when your people might be ready to take onboard more information and also educate them as much as you can so that they can be supportive of you and your sexual identity because after all, everyone deserves to feel safe, heard and supported when discussing and exploring their sexuality.