How Do You Come Out of the Closet? One Step at a Time!

By Kari Kuka

Coming out as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered is a process. For some, this process moves quickly with support from loved one and friends.  But for others, the process can be long and painful. Here are some tips that might help.

  • If you are reading this you have already made it through the first step of coming out to yourself. How do “You” feel about your sexuality? Are you confused, sad, frustrated, scared, happy or angry? Understand that some or all of these feelings are normal.
  • Next, find a trusted friend, relative or group that will support you through this process. If you are not sure who you can talk to, call The Gay Lesbian National Hotline (1-888 THE-GLNH).  They can talk you through how to find a trusted adult in your community.
  • Coming out to family can be scary. Before you have that conversation, there are a couple things you can do to help you get ready. First, create a safety plan in case someone becomes angry. Think about where you can stay, people you can call, transportation to a safe space and having some money on hand. Next, pick a good place and time to share your news. A holiday meal is usually not it. Get rid of the distractions around you such as screens, TV, or even music. And it might make sense to have a supportive friend or relative join you.
  • Give the people you’re sharing this news with some time! You have been living your sexual identity. Your family or friends might have just found out. Expect questions and be thoughtful in your response; respect their opinions and try to express your own; and understand that they could have the same feelings of sadness, anger, worry, frustration that you had. Be prepared to give them resources that will help them with this information. pflag.org has some great resources for family and friends.
  • Know your why! Understand why it is important for you to tell others and be able to verbalize it to others. It could be something like “I came out so that I could introduce my partner to my friends and family” or “I need to be true to myself” or whatever it is. Be ready to articulate it so others can better understand.
  • There is no deadline or time frame. You get to decide when and if you want to share this information to the world. Only you know when it is right for you.

For more information and things to think about before “coming out” please visit Youth Resource. Good luck on your journey.

Kari Kuka MS, CHES
Supervisor Health Education Program
Denver Health School-Based Health Centers