I am an LGBT therapist, and I am often asked “how do I come out?”. Below are suggestions for self-disclosure around sexuality and gender. These suggestions were adapted from Arlene Istar Lev and Wayne Dhesi.
Coming Out Suggestions
- If possible, begin working on accepting your sexuality or transgender identity first.
- Develop a support network that will assist you through this process (therapist, peer group, electronic mailing list, etc.).
- There is no “right way” to come out. People have come out in numerous ways.
- There is no prescription for how “out” you have to be.
- Don’t let internal or external pressure dictate when and where you come out, unless you want to be out.
- Consider preparing what you will say and practicing with a friend, therapist, or in the mirror.
- Avoid overwhelming loved ones with too much information at once.
- When you are first disclosing to loved ones, attempt to do it without your romantic partner present.
- Keeping in mind that you have done your own acceptance work, attempt to be present for the other person and their issues. In that moment, try not to make it about you; instead focus on supporting them. However, it is also important know your limits and to practice self-care by excusing yourself from abusive situations.
- Just-in-case, prepare for others to be negative and ask foolish, judgmental, or even cruel questions. Remind them who you have always been to them and that who you are has not changed with this disclosure.
- Do not act defensive or present yourself as mentally ill.
- Do not pretend to have answers that you do not have.
- Expect people to be inconsistent and labile in their emotional reactions.
- Remember that it took you time to address your own sexuality or transgender issues. Do not expect your loved ones to simply accept it in one short talk. For some, coming to terms with your non-normative identity will take time.
Counseling Can Help
Counseling can help support you in your coming out journey.
It’s time to heal…
Please contact Suzanne at (720) 443-1480 or email me to schedule an appointment.