5 Tips for Throwing Open the Closet Door

natl-coming-out-day
Photo originally posted on Vital Voice

It’s Coming Out Day, and while some of you may be celebrating an “Out-iversary”, others might be planning on coming out.

This time of year, LGBTQIA+ support pages are flooded with questions about coming out; tips, tricks, and stories of experience to try and get people prepared for what they may want to do. I love getting all of your questions, hearing all of your stories, and then hearing how everything went with the families and friends of those who confide in me.

 But for those who may be scared to slide into the inbox of the giant LGBTQ+ support communities on Facebook, Tumblr, etc., I’ve written down my go-to-advice on coming out.

I did not have these resources as a young bisexual, and many of those coming out now do not have those resources either. LGBTQIA+ community support pages want to help you change that, especially today. Share every resource list you see, every advice column you read, and send love to all the “New Come-Outers” who need your support.

But first, I would like to acknowledge everyone not coming out today or anytime soon (if at all). Coming out is not the end-all LGBTQIA+ experience. Some people needed it to happen, others never want it too. Some only come out to certain people. No matter your choice it’s important for you to know that you are valid and loved and your community will always be here when you need us. You can still celebrate with everyone today, no matter if you’re out or not.

Tip 1 – Asses Your Home Environment

A vital part of coming out is knowing how your environment will change. Some people may experience some tension in the home, others will experience immediate acceptance, but a lot of people are rejected or placed in dangerous situations. I wish I could say this is surprising and rare, but it’s not. Knowing this could be a reality, you need to prepare yourself.

If you think you may face physical danger or verbal abuse – Do Not Come Out

If you still want to come out, have people there as a buffer, and have a place to stay. Your things should be packed and you should be prepared for any possible situation.

If you think you may lose your shelter – Do Not Come Out

                If you still want to come out have housing* lined up and have backup housing ready. Your things should be packed and you should be prepared for any possible situation.

If you think you may lose access to services (Cell phone, wi-fi access, vehicles, health insurance, etc.) – Have Help Lined Up

Write down the names of shelters, free clinics**, locations that provide free wifi, and consider purchasing a bus pass/subway pass. Try to maintain contact with friends and loved ones that can provide you with more support and care.

If your home life won’t be altered by coming out, still show caution and keep a list of resources handy. You don’t know when someone you know might need the same information.

* Find a Homeless shelter near you (not ideal but sometimes all you have)
** Find a free/low cost clinic near you

Tip 2 – Write a Script

When we tell our family and friends personal things that can so heavily impact our lives, words get jumbled easily. If you want to relieve some stress from coming out, think about writing a script. Write down everything you want to say, keep it very simple and easy to understand. When you get nervous and start to lose your rhythm, you’ll have your script to fall on.

A good format that might help you:

  • Start with a short story; a memory that may lessen the tension, or a humorous story to keep the anxiety from rising.
  • Introduce your Personal Identity Label (whatever label you identify with that represents you the best), and follow it with a short and concise definition
  • Tell the story of your realization, mixed in with personal memories
  • State, FIRMLY, how what your family/friends say can affect you and give them a short lesson on how to refer to you/speak around you
  • Allow for some questions, stay FIRM in stance stated in previous point

Consider writing own extra information that might help you answer questions that your family and friends may ask you.

 

Tip 3 – Come out in a Semi Public Place

This doesn’t mean go to your local mom and pop coffee shop where you may be the only customers there for a while, but also don’t go somewhere that is filled to the brim with people. A moderately busy park, or anywhere you can sit in silence without attracting too much attention but still be able to see people around you. These venues can help dissuade any physical or verbal outbursts that happen as a result of anger, shock, or hatred.

This is not a foolproof plan. Some people will not think twice about expressing verbal or physical violence in a public area. See Tip 1 and consider having people there with you to act as a buffer if you feel you may experience violence.

Tip 4 – Do not Ride with Them

If you don’t have a car this one can be difficult, but it’s still important. If you decide to come out in a semi-public place an even if you come out at home/someone else’s home, you will need to have a way to get out of the environment. Have a ride waiting for you or drive yourself, stay near the door, and do not hesitate to leave when things start to get lively. This not only is important for your safety; it can also alleviate anxiety about coming out. Sometimes simply knowing you can leave if you need too is relieving.

Tip 5 – Do not Come Out Angry

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “don’t go to bed angry” in regards to relationships; you’ll make plans at night that you may regret in the morning. In my experience, the same goes with coming out.

I came out during an argument with my mom. I don’t remember what we were fighting about, or who started the argument, but I remember going upstairs angry and coming back down within about 30 minutes with a poem. This poem I then read to my mother, saw her start crying, and walked back upstairs. Do I regret coming out? No. I do regret the abruptness and ill-planned way that I did it.

I did not have these resources as a young bisexual, and many of those coming out now do not have those resources either. LGBTQIA+ community support pages want to help you change that, especially today. Share every resource list you see, every advice column you read, and send love to all the “New Come-Outers” who need your support.

And remember, even if you aren’t out yet or don’t plan on coming out, today is for you too.

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