I have watched many of our friends and family members share a very intimate piece of personal truth with their loved ones, many for the very first time ever! From my past experience, I want to share information that may help you, either as a person who came out, or the loved one of a person who was brave enough to do so:
1) Coming out of the closet is not a one-and-done task. If you are not straight, you will continue to come out many, many more times throughout your life. Because you are not part of the cisgender majority, coming out will occur in many places and times. It is like having a unique name or ethnic background: people who find you interesting will ask questions about what makes you different from them. Sometimes this will be stressful, but the more you love and accept yourself, the less you will feel the need to be defensive or apologetic.
2) Sharing a secret as big as coming out of the closet is like winning the lottery: you will feel great excitement at first; and a lot of attention, both positive and negative, will be shed on you. After the excitement dies down, however, you will be left with your normal life stresses, and now some new ones regarding the new ways some people will perceive you. Some people will think you have changed. You have not; simply the perception of you has changed, for some. Please don’t let that change you. If you were a good person before exiting the closet, and nothing else changed, then you’re still a good person.
3) If someone you love has come out, and you never saw it coming, don’t worry: that’s probably what he or she wanted. You are not a bad friend or family member for not noticing before now. And you’re not a bad person for not understanding your loved one. Being gay/lesbian/bi/trans/pan/queer/curious can be complicated, and it takes years for most of us who identify as one of those to figure it out ourselves. We don’t even understand it sometimes! There is nothing wrong with any of those identities, so there should be no sense of guilt for you as a parent/sibling/relative/friend who is doing everything you can to love and support this person.
4) Making the decision to come out of the closet has nothing to do with being selfish. In fact, many, many who have come before us and have laid bare their true identities have done so at their own peril. Please don’t take the announcement as a personal attack on anyone, not even on God. When someone has the courage and strength to be their good and true selves, it shows honesty and integrity in the face of potential harm and ridicule, and I think this is when God would be proudest of a son or daughter.
5) Continue to live your life. You are out of the closet now! That’s a huge burden off of your shoulders! Now don’t waste the opportunity to move forward, and bring your dreams to fruition. If you are straight, then you got to witness someone come out of the closet, which means they trust and love you with what was once a very private part of themselves. Now follow their example, and go be your truest self, and hopefully that will inspire someone else for good. The “pay-it-forward” cycle of goodness can continue, and we can learn to love and accept one another, even if it’s only a little bit more at a time, every day.
We want to hear your story–here’s how to share it with us!
Each Sunday we feature a new Coming Out Story on the Latter Gay Stories blog. Coming out is an important process that is different for everyone; some experiences are difficult; while others are heart-warming and inspiring. Coming out is rarely easy–but your story will help others draw inspiration from your own experience. We rely on weekly submissions to keep the Coming Out Stories alive and invite you to share your story now.