Coming out – General Tips
You may want to start by coming out to only a few close and supportive friends or family members who you trust. Here are some tips that you might follow:
- Be patient with yourself. It’s not necessary to tell everyone at once. Take your time.
- Don’t push yourself.
- Start small. It can be easier to start by telling friends than by telling family. Find allies in your family. If you think a brother or sister or cousin will be easier to tell, start there.
- Develop a support network of friends who are accepting and supportive.
- Be positive. When you come out to someone, you set the tone.
- Find resources or get a mentor to talk to.
- Don’t come out in anger or retaliation.
- Be patient with others. Some people take longer to digest the information than others.
- Realize that they may need some time to adjust.
- Be firm. Identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) or whatever word you use, if you’re sure.
- Assess the situation. If you’re unsure of your own sexual orientation or gender identity, find someone who can help support you during this time. Be aware that different people will have very different responses. Finding someone who will support you and also allow you to discover your own identity will be very helpful.
- Ask LGBT friends to share they're coming out stories.
- Refer parents and friends to resources that might help.
- Be prepared for different types of reactions.
What should I say when I come out?
Here are some ways to start the conversation:
- “I trust you and you are very important in my life. I have something I want to tell you and I hope it won’t affect our relationship”.
- “We’ve been friends for a while and I want you to know something about me”.
- “I’ve been keeping something hidden from you for a while and I don’t like that”.
Tips for When Someone Comes Out to You
- Be patient. Allow them to tell you at their own pace. Let them determine what is needed.
- Commit yourself as an ally. Let them know you are accepting.
- Don’t push. A person who is coming out may have a hard time talking about it. Don’t force them to disclose anything.
- Keep their confidence and respect their privacy.
- Acknowledge the risk they took by coming out to you. Compliment their courage. Don’t minimize the importance of what they did by saying, “It doesn’t matter to me.”
- Instead say, “Thank you for trusting me.”
- Or say, “It doesn’t change how I feel about you,” or admit that it might positively change things.
- Don’t overâreact
- If you’re comfortable with it, offer a hug or some show of support.
- Ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
- Don’t ask: Are you hot for me? What made you do this? Who did this to you? Is it just a phase? Aren’t you worried about AIDS? Were you molested? Does this mean you want to be a man (said to a woman)? Does this mean you want to be a woman (said to a man)?