Today is National Coming Out Day, a celebratory day marked every October 11 for more than 30 years.
To “come out” to someone is to tell them you’re LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex or queer), and it can be a scary thing.
You never know how someone could react to the information you want to share with them.
Many celebrate on social media by photographing themselves, and tagging the images with #NationalComingOutDay.
Coming out still matters. There’s no right or wrong way to come out, and no list of instructions.
But it’s good to know some things about it all before you’re ready to come out. For National Coming Out Day, here are a few tips on how to come out to others as LGBTIQ+.
Tell one person you trust.
When I figured out I was bisexual, the first person I told was my best friend.
It was so much easier to tell one person about it than an entire group of people. This was because I didn’t have to answer a bucketload of questions, just the ones my friend chose to ask me.
As you open up to one person, things will seem a thousand times easier and clearer for you when it comes to telling others.
No one can force you to come out. Don’t say anything if you feel you aren’t ready.
It’s your decision if you’re ready to come out. Don’t let others pressure you into coming out, even if they do or don’t know.
People joke about coming out themselves and joke out their friends – it’s your right to deny it if they out you and you aren’t ready. Saying “No I’m not that” isn’t the same as lying, and it’s okay!
It doesn’t have to be rushed.
Your coming out can be a big announcement with a rainbow cake and balloons made of glitter.
But if you don’t want to make it a big deal, don’t!
Start with people you trust, then gradually let others know if they ask or you feel the need to let them know. Be subtle if you don’t want to be upfront.
Remember that you can’t predict everyone’s response.
You never know how someone’s going to react after you tell them you’re LGBTQ+.
Some people are going to be cool with it, people who are going to be surprised, and people who are going to have issues.
It depends who you talk to – people would say to tell family first. Sometimes family isn’t the best place to start.
Feeling anxious about coming out is normal.
Believe me, I was terrified when I started to tell people about my sexuality.
Feeling anxious is normal, and you’re probably going to be debating with yourself a lot whether this is the right decision to even tell someone, so take time to ask yourself questions and ease your nerves. Take a deep breath and let it out when you’re ready.
Be clear about who people can tell.
Parents can be the scariest to come out to, especially if you’re not sure how they’re going to react.
If they take the news in a positive note, let them know whether you want them to tell the rest of the family.
It’s your decision if you want other family members to know. If you make the request clear, your parents can be there to support and provide backup if you need it.
You may want to got creative about how you come out.
If you’re adventurous and am happy to come out to other people, come up with creative ways to do it so you feel more comfortable.
Bake a cake in rainbow colours, or in the flag colours of your identity. Do whatever makes you happy about coming out.
It’s a positive feeling – it shows to you that you’ve found yourself. Do it in the best way possible!
Don’t let others label your sexuality or gender identity.
Adopt a label for yourself once you’re comfortable with it (or don’t adopt one at all).
If someone gets it wrong, gently correct them and let them know the correct labels you want to go by.
You don’t need to change who you are to fit anyone’s standards or stereotypes. Be yourself and don’t let others tell you otherwise. It’s your body and your identity. You decide what you do with it.
New handbook for LGBTIQ young people on National Coming Out Day
The folks at US queer helpline The Trevor Project have released a new handbook to make the coming-out process a little bit easier for LGBTIQ young people.
The free handbook includes easy-to-understand sections on gender identity, sexual orientation, coming out, healthy relationships, and self-care.
Coming out is what people usually use National Coming Out Day for. But it doesn’t have to be a serious occasion – you come out how you want to come out.
Don’t let others force you or tell you how to do it. There’s no right or wrong way!
If you need someone to talk to, help is always available. Call QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.