Even though you hear more about LGBTQIA+ folks and there’s more celebration, deciding if you want to come out can still be a hard.
You may ask yourself, is it a good idea to come out to them at all? It’s possible that you’re worrying that coming out might change your friendships, or that you might lose some friends. You might worry that they’ll tell people before you’re ready, or that they’ll bully you. Worrying about these questions and more are very common when people think of coming out.
It’s important to know that true friends will not let something like sexuality or gender come between you. It is possible that some friendships will change or fade. But, friends that stick around can become stronger, and it can be amazing to be your whole self with friends.
Coming out for the first time is often the hardest, so it’s a good idea to make enough time, plan time to chill out alone or with other friends after, and have a plan just in case things don’t go well. You can plan to talk to someone at a helpline like Gai Écoute, Trans Lifeline, or Tel-Jeunes or ask someone you trust if they can hang around their phone and be ready to talk.
It’s good to prepare just in case, but coming out can be an amazing experience and lead to strong, supportive life-long friendships!
Do I come out if I’m still questioning?
Before coming out to your friends, it’s a good idea to know how you’re feeling about your own sexuality or gender identity.
Not everyone feels thrilled with finding out they’re LGBTQIA+. Some aren’t completely sure too. Both of these are totally okay. Embracing your (a)sexuality or (a)gender can be a little scary in the beginning. Try asking yourself, are you comfortable with yourself? Nervous? Scared? Upset? Excited?
It’s easiest to come out to people when you are comfortable and happy with who you are, this tells them that they should also be happy for you. If you’re not there yet, you can choose to wait or come out. It’s always your decision.
Friends can be an amazing support when you’re questioning or having trouble with your (a)sexuality or (a)gender. But, since you’re already having a hard time, it can be better to check how they feel about people who are LGBTQIA+ before coming out. This can make it more likely they’ll help with your stress rather than adding to it.
How do I know if someone’s an LGBTQIA+ ally?
It’s not always possible to wait until you’re in a good place. You may want to come out to some friends who you think will react better when you’re still struggling.
It can be a good idea to check where someone might stand before coming out to them. You can see if they might be an ally by seeing how they react to things like…
- Bringing up an LGBTQIA+ celebrity or piece of news
- Talking about someone who’s already out
- Sharing a movie, show, or book with LGBTQIA+ characters
- Bringing up LGBTQIA+ politics or events
Getting to know their opinions and reactions can give you a better idea of how they might react if you were to come out.
Thinking about possible consequences
When you’re thinking about coming out to someone, it’s important to think about who they might tell. Having a friend come out of the closet can be exciting or jarring. Some people might want to tell people who you’re not ready for. Some people might assume you’ve told other people first, like your parents, other LGBTQIA+ folks, or other friends.
So, part of deciding to come out is also thinking about who they might tell, and what those people might do. In particular, if you’re living with your parents, it’s important to think about how they might react if they found out. Sometimes, it’s better to wait until you’ve moved out.
If you choose to come out, it’s still a good idea to also talk about who they can tell and anyone they really shouldn’t.
Coming out on your own terms
There is no one right way to come out to your friends. Some people find a face-to-face conversation is best. If you talk to a friend, do it in a neutral meeting place or in a place where you feel comfortable. Some folks think a Facebook status like “I’m trans and these are my pronouns” is better, because you can reach many people at once.
The way you come out is completely your decision. You get to pick a way that makes you feel happy and excited while keeping you safe.
Planning what you are going to do and say
You can never completely map out how your coming out will go. What you can do is decide what your first move is going to be. You can also think about what you’d say depending on how they react.
If you’re deciding how you’d like to come out, you can ask things like…
- Are you going to bring up the topic yourself or wait for it to come up?
- Will you have a serious sit-down talk, or mention it more casually or spur of the moment?
- What will you do if your friend doesn’t respond well?
Not taking your friends’ reactions personally
If you come out, it’s possible some friends might not react well. This can happen even if they seemed to be accepting at first.
It’s important to try to be patient with them, and not judge yourself by what they say. Keep in mind that you’ve had a long time to get used to your sexuality or gender. Your friends just heard about it, they might need more time to get used to it.
Sometimes, it does change friendships, and some people do get more distant. In these cases, you can make all of the decisions. You can choose to try to make it work, to talk about the situation with other people, or to spend less time together. Remember that there are tons of people who will be accepting and celebrate who you are. It may take time, but you will always find more friends in your life.
Continue being friends with positive supportive people
For some people who come out, there’s a drive to only hang out with other LGBTQIA+ folks to celebrate coming out. It’s fantastic to reach out to other people with your orientation or gender identity. But, straight friends can be amazing supports too! If someone stays a strong and supportive friend after you come out, chances are they’re a friend you want to have around for a while. So it’s great to be as good a friend back to them!