In this episode seeing as it is pride month, we’re gonna have a bit of a look at coming out.
Coming out and being visible is a really important thing for some folks. It helps them feel connected to something bigger than themselves. And it helps them to feel freer to express themselves.
Being visible is a big part of pride month. We can’t forget that Pride month commemorates the stonewall riots.
It highlights our past struggles and brings to the front, the conversations that are still needed to be had and the discrimination we still face in so many countries around the world.
Having the privilege to come out is not something we all have. And it’s important to recognise that.
While many gays and lesbian people have found acceptance within the broader community in a lot of western countries, this is not the same for all folks. Especially trans and gender diverse people.
What does it mean to come out?
Coming out is a huge milestone!
It is a moment where we learn the truth about those in our lives. We will experience acceptance and we will experience rejection. And it is life changing.
There are many ways that you can come out.
It could be expressing your sexuality, your gender identity, your sexual preferences or kinks or type of relationships you enjoy eg monogamous/polyamourous/relationship anarchist.
All of these are valid and you may choose to share some with certain people but not others. It’s totally up to you.
How do folks tend to come out?
There is no right or wrong way to come out.
We each do it the best way we can. For some folks it may involve a lot of planning ahead of time, while for others it may be a more spontaneous/unplanned moment.
When I came out to my family for the first time (I think I was 19), my parents and bro had come round to my place to visit or something. And I just blurted out that I was a lesbian and had a girlfriend. and they all just went, yeah we knew.
To be fair, no one in my family or extended family was surprised. I’d spent my whole life being a little rough and tumble and definitely did not conform to any sort of standard when it came to being a “girl” so I think they had all assumed I was gonna grow up queer.
I’m pretty fortunate though as this isn’t the experience for all people. Also it wasn’t an experience that was repeated with my friends when I came out to them.
I lost every friend that I had when I first came out. And it was tough. But personally, I’d rather not be friends with homophobes anyway so it was probably for the best really.
This isn’t to say that it didn’t hurt and that I wasn’t sad. But I knew that I could make new friends, and I did. And the new people who became my friends accepted me for who I was.
It’s a risk we take when we become visible. We are putting ourselves in the sights of people who will judge us and who won’t accept us.
But we are also showing our true selves to the people who will fully embrace us. It’s kind of a double edged sword.
And that is why it’s important to know what is best and safest for you when it comes to coming out.
At the end of the day though, you don’t have to come out. You can totally rock as you without having to be open about that. That’s totally valid.
Coming Out Tips
Tip #1: Prepare yourself for coming out by reflecting on your needs
If you do want to come out to those in your life, it can be worth taking your time to reflect on how you may want to do that.
Something I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older and become more aware of the importance of good communication is that people receive information differently.
Meaning communicating one way with one person may not be effective when communicating with someone else. So it can be beneficial to have a think about who you want to come out to and what would be the best way to share that with them.
Blurting something like this out (like I did), without prior warning or some sort of buffer may be a bit confronting for some folks.
They may feel put on the spot or think that they are expected to respond in a certain way. So taking the time to perhaps sit down and plan things may make a potentially uncomfortable and scary moment a bit more manageable for you as well as the person on the receiving end.
Tip #2: Consider all the potential responses
It’s important to remember that we can’t assume how someone will or won’t respond to what we share.
After I came out to my family, they have never spoken about it with me again. Which to be honest, I’ve always found a bit disappointing. And I’ve now come out to my family three times. First as a lesbian, then as non binary and polyamorous.
I’m the only queer person (or openly queer person that I know of) in my whole family and it seems that no one wants to know about how my experience has been. But I can’t force them to be interested.
It might just be that they lack the capacity to understand what my identities even are. It’s probably so foriegn to them and so far from what they would consider ‘normal’ that they’d rather just avoid thinking about it and continue to live in their comfortable little cis het bubble.
For some folks it may be the opposite. Perhaps those close to you will have a lot of questions to ask you.
Being prepared for different responses without any expectations, while it isn’t easy, can help reduce the risk of hurt feelings on your part.
Tip #3: Take Your Time
If you’re thinking of coming out, remember it’s ok to take your time.
I began expressing my identity to some of my friends when I was in high school. Actually I first began expressing my sexuality as bisexual.
And to be honest I’m pretty sure that’s more accurate than the lesbian label that I used for so many years.
I just called myself a lesbian because I only had longer term relationships with women. But I have sex with both AFAB and AMAB folks. It’s really a grey area these days.
Labels can be both amazing and confining at times!
What if your Identity is fluid and changes?
Now let’s say you come out, and over time your identity changes as you grow and explore who you are as a person. Maybe like mine has, or in a completely different way.
That is totally ploppin ok friend. Your identity is not set in stone. There is nothing wrong with changing how you identify any time you want.
You don’t owe it to anyone to define yourself in a particular way. So feel really good about expressing yourself however you like. Try things out. FInd what feels right for you and than rock that for as long as it fits you.
That may be your entire life or it may be much shorter.
Whatever you decide to do, come out to the world. Come out to just your friends. Come out to an intimate partner. It’s all good friend. Do what feels right for you and what helps you feel good.
Most importantly do what you judge to be the safest thing for you.
We’ve touched on a lot today.
We’ve looked at how:
- you can come out and some of the identities that you could come out as.
- you can take the time to plan how you may approach coming out to the people in your life.
- it might be good to do it differently, based on who you are telling.
- it’s totally ok for you to change how you identify any time you ploppin want.
Because you are the only person living your life so express yourself however it feels right for you.
You may lose friends, you may lose family. But the important thing to remember is that regardless of what happens when you come out, you are valid, you are worthy. There is nothing wrong with who you are at all.
You are worthy of love and there are people out there who do and will love you for who you are, even if you haven’t met them yet.
If you’re enjoying the show and know other folks that may find some benefit in having a listen, I’d be so grateful if you shared it with them or anywhere else where you think that it could help someone.
Until next week remember we stand on the shoulders of courageous humans who fought for our rights. Living as our true selves however that may look, is one way we can honour their memory and the sacrifices they made.