Coming Out: planning ahead, testing the waters, environment, support systems, and safety.

Coming out of the closet can be an intimidating and daunting process for many. Hiding or lying about one’s identity can be a very frustrating experience.

In an ideal world, this would not be such a struggle. While each case and person’s backgrounds are unique in its own way, a few guiding points may help you in your process of coming out.

Planning Ahead:

Just like everything else, planning ahead when to tell who is very crucial. Few things you should keep in mind:

  • How stigmatized is/are the person/people who you are deciding to come out to?
    • Gathering the overall tolerance level of the community/people who you are coming out to is extremely crucial in the process.
  • What is the person’s mind frame before you come out to them?
    • Bear in mind that this will be new information for anyone to process. You would like to avoid coming out on a day when they’ve had a very hectic or a day full of challenges.
  • Determine who you would like to come out to.
    • In coming out stories, it’s rare that people are comfortable coming out to everyone in their circle or openly.
      Consider, taking the approach of coming out to the people who you feel the safest and most comfortable around. These are the people who most likely understand you. Even if they do not understand what does it mean to be Queer, they would likely support you for you.
  • Decide where you want to come out.
    • This is a personal preference really.
      • If you feel that coming out to the person may be an unsafe experience, consider public space, say a club, or a cafe.
      • If you feel that you want this to be a private thing, consider expressing in the comfort of your home.
        (Don’t forget to make the person feel comfortable)
      • If you’re unsure, consider a video call or a phone call, or even a text message. So that the anxiety of the person’s reaction does not consume you.

Be well informed, prepared for questions to answer. Common questions that may come up are:

  • Are you sure?
  • Who’s your partner?
  • How long have you known about your orientation?

Have a rough idea of what you want to say. Keep flashcards cards, mobile phone notes if that helps. Explain to them what it means and this information can be difficult to process.

(Source- CNN)

Testing the Waters:

You can almost never tell who will accept your orientation or not. Here, dropping hints helps a lot. Using current trends or news items can be a good conversation starter to test the waters.

  • “Hey! Did you hear that Kevin Spacey is gay?”
  • “The scrapping of Article 377 from the Indian Constitution was interesting. Did you know the two lawyers are lesbians?!”


Once you share this, give the space for the person to be the speaker and let them express. If someone is outrightly dismissive and homophobic, you know that coming out to them is not a good idea; at least at the moment.

Someone who’s more accepting and tolerant, may exude positivity or generic phrases/sentences of acceptance. 

While this is no foolproof and safe way to come out, as some people may be tolerant to some queer people and intolerant to others.

Environment:

The physical space can determine a lot of how it may be perceived. If you’re likely coming out in a public space, a person who is not accepting, is bound to put the societal filter in their head before reacting. Similarly, inat the comfort of one’s personal space, you can expect the person you are informing to express themselves openly.

If it helps you, consider having one or two close friends in the physical space you’re expressing. It would give you the confidence and keep the anxiousness in check.

Support Systems:

This is perhaps extremely crucial in the process of your expression. Identify and connect with people who belong to the community. Nowadays most cities have community centers and groups. Thanks to social media, finding them is also not difficult!

If you feel very scared and unsure of the result, having the contact number of help centers and shelters would give you a lot of confidence.

Active networking will help you realize- you are not alone (the most important tip of all!) and learn from others experiences to help make your experience smooth and comfortable.

(Source: WBEZ)

Safety:

During this entire process, your well-beingwellbeing and safety areis of prime most importance.

If you feel that your expression will lead you to getgetting evicted from your place of residence identify an LGBTQIA+ shelter in your area in advance. If unavailable, consider arranging your stay with a friend who supports you till the tides settle.


Always remember to take your time and never rush into it. 

Also read “LGBTQ Local support chapters, helplines, resources, etc. in the USA

(Cover photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)

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