No matter what time we live in, who you are, how old you are, where you live, or who your family is….it is extremely hard to come to terms with your sexuality if you are a queer individual who is still finding their way and doesn’t know if they are prepared to come out. Knowing from first-hand experience, I’m going to go through some stages of coming out, common misconceptions, advice to give those around you who come to you for help, and advice that will hopefully help ease the stress for those of you who are in the closet and feel an immense amount of fear, confusion, and excitement for the future.
When seeking advice for things like sexuality and self-discovery, it can be difficult to go to the people you are closest to because there’s a part of you that is scared of what they might say if you tell them your situation. After coming out and helping multiple people understand their sexuality better, I’ve found that it’s easier to vent to someone you barely know or the person you’re least close with in a friend group or in your family because you know that whatever they think won’t affect you as much as it would if you’d told someone you were really close to. Just remember that whoever you do choose to keep your secret, that they can be trusted with it.
The biggest “pro” that people use when giving advice is that it’s the 21st century and, “You can be whatever you want!” While that may be slightly true, it’s still an overstatement. Yes, a lot of people are more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community today but that doesn’t erase the fact that we still get hate-crimes, killings, beatings, and get shouted slurs at us from everywhere. While it can be rare for some people, there are still a lot of queer individuals who experience this on a daily basis. In no way am I saying this to scare those of you who are still in the closet and discovering yourself, I just feel like the truth needs to be out there so that you are fully aware of the world we live in and how it’s not a hundred percent perfect as a lot of people paint it to be.
While the truth is that there are a lot of hateful people out there, there is another truth that holds much more importance. It is that no matter the hate a queer individual receives they will always have a community behind them that is ready to support them. It can be a stranger online, someone you know can be fully trusted, or even just yourself. But at the end of the day, you will always have support. I’m going to be honest, there are flaws and major problems within the community but there are still people in it who are more than willing to help you find your next path to take on your road to self-discovery.
To someone who is considering coming out and taking that final step, you must keep in mind a few things. It is important to make absolutely sure that you are surrounded by a caring and safe environment before coming out because the sad truth is, many parents/guardians will kick their children out for coming out and even physically/mentally abuse them for it. Another thing to remember is that this doesn’t have to be the final step in your life when it comes to your sexuality, you may, later on, realize that your sexuality is different, and that’s perfectly okay. It is important that when you come out, you come out using the pronouns, sexuality, and/or identity that you are most comfortable with. Another thing to remember for those who are coming out, you are brave. It takes the utmost courage to fully accept yourself, and not only come to terms with it but to embrace it as well. So take a deep breath and remember that you’ve made it this far, be proud of yourself and your story.
While those who have learned to embrace their identities should be celebrated, it is also important to recognize those that are in an unsafe environment and cannot come out or just those in general who are not mentally ready to accept themselves and/or they don’t feel comfortable with people knowing yet. That is perfectly acceptable too and it is crucial to take the time you need when discovering yourself because how you come out is up to you, it’s your journey, your story, and only you know how to tell it.
Another VERY important thing I feel should be mentioned is labels. A lot of people who come out feel trapped or nervous when asked about their pronouns, identity, or sexuality. I myself have felt it too. While having been out as bisexual for three years, there are times where it feels stressful to be categorized into one sexuality, identity, and gender. I personally feel like the topic of labels is so important to lgbtq+ youth because there can be so much generalization when it comes to labels. So for those of you who know that you are queer, are on the lgbtq+ spectrum, or just identify as something other than straight, and feel that labels are not your thing then SO BE IT. It is not only important but freeing to know that you can throw labels out the window and just be whoever you want to be without explaining to people. When you think about it, it is literally no one’s business who you are, who you love, or who you identify as. So if you just want to be a free spirit and embrace your sexuality and identity differently than others, then do just that. It helps to think of it this way…. it’s better to enjoy your life and love who you want rather than be worried about what labels people expect you to have.
As a conclusion for this weeks article on a queer topic, remember to take the time you need because your mental health is important, support queer individuals around you, make sure to remind them of how brave they are and how far they’ve come (it goes a long way), and for all my queers, gays, she’s, and theys…. remember that it gets better and only you know your full story and only you can tell it.