What is Coming out?
'Coming out' refers to the journey a person goes through when they become aware, recognize and acknowledge their sexual orientation and/ or gender identity may be different from what they are expected to be. The process begins with coming out to ourselves first, and may also include deciding to disclose this to others.
People may decide to come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer for different reasons, and in different ways. The process may differ from person to person, and you do not need to use certain terms to describe yourself if you're not ready to do so. What is important during this process is that you are able to take that initial step to become aware of your feelings, and then to feel safe and supported.
When you first come out to yourself, you may feel fear, worry or even confused about what's happening. This is because since birth, most of us have been brought up in a hetero-normative environment: this is an assumption that being attracted to people of the opposite gender is the "norm", and that as boys and girls, we are supposed to think, feel and behave in certain "socially-accepted" ways.
Few of us were told that we might be attracted to people of the same gender, or our gender identity might differ from the biological sex we were assigned at birth. Because of the sometimes hostile social environment many of us live in, the process of coming out can be challenging due to ignorance, prejudice, or rejection.
As it may take some time to sort out these feelings for yourself, allow yourself the space and time to explore your own sexual orientation and/ or gender identity. Being able to acknowledge your real feelings and pursue relationships that are personally more satisfying and honest for you would enable you to be more at peace with yourself.
What are my reasons for “coming out”?
Each of us may have different reasons for coming out. Some people come out because they want their relationships - with family members, loved ones and friends - to be deeper and more authenthic. Some choose to come out because they want to break down barriers and stereotypes that have kept others in the closet.
Whatever your reasons for coming out may be, it is a something that has no fixed timeline. We all do it in our own unique ways and in our own time. Although coming out and living more authentically is a deeply liberating experience, only you can determine why, how, when and with whom you choose to share this experience with.
Here are some risks and benefits to consider before coming out to others:
If you are planning to come out to others, check out our brochure "Thinking About Coming Out?" or watch the video below.