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Reuben's Top Tips for Coming Out

By Reuben Conibear, Customer Marketing Manager at Thomas International

1. Firstly, your safety is the priority. If you feel that coming out might put you at risk of harm, do what you can to mitigate that before you come out. This can be in the form of waiting until you are more financially independent, preparing yourself emotionally, or moving to a new place. Then work towards that.

Unfortunately, there are still many places in the world where being LGBTQ+ is illegal [RC1] or where LGBTQ+ people are severely discriminated against. Sometimes it’s closer to home than we would like to think. Consider researching your options. Is there somewhere safer close to you? Is moving there something you can work toward?

Once you know you’re safe…

2. Write your story down. The LGBTQ+ community is incredibly broad and intersectional. To suggest that any two coming out stories are the same is short-sighted. You know yourself better than anyone else. You’ve potentially understood who you are for a long time, and imagined many different versions of how you will come out and the reaction people will have. This pressure can put a real strain on your mental well-being and distract you from how you truly want to come out. To make sense of it all, it can help to take time to reflect on who you are, and your journey by writing it all down.

Find time to be alone to write it. Consider even deleting or destroying it once you’ve processed it. Be careful not to out yourself before you’re ready.

However, having it written down can also help if you decide you’d rather come out to someone by text, email or a letter.

It's your story, but a supporting character can help, which leads us to…

3. Find your ally. Is there someone in your life that you can trust more than anyone else to talk to? It can be a family member, friend, or maybe even a co-worker.

They may have somehow indicated that they support the LGBTQ+ community. Or maybe they’ve just always been there for you, made you feel unconditionally loved or supported.

This process is hard. Don’t make it harder on yourself. Tell someone you can trust first. There’s no set order of who to come out to first. It doesn’t have to be your parents, then siblings, then friends, then people at work. It really helps to have someone you can count on already in your corner when you do feel ready to tell the world who you are.

Speaking of which…

4. Coming out is a process. When you’re ready to start telling other people, you’ll soon realise there’s no ‘one’ coming out story. If you do decide to come out to others, consider asking those you’ve already told to come or stand by for emotional support.

It’s okay to be scared, and it’s okay to lean on your support group.

We live in a heteronormative society where coming out is a lifelong process. Depending on your unique situation, you may find yourself coming out to friends, family, acquaintances or co-workers long after you first come out. I love introducing my husband to new people, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still get a bit nervous about how that person will react. Don’t worry, it gets easier with time.

Speaking of time…

5. Give yourself time. The hardest part of coming out is the fear of being rejected. The truth is, being emotionally prepared for any response is easier said than done. But it helps to remember that you deserve to be your authentic self, just like everyone else.

There is nothing wrong with you. If someone doesn’t accept you for who you are then that is their failing, not yours. Do not give them even an inch of your humanity. But what you can do is give it time.

They may be surprised, shocked or unsure how to react – it’s possible all new to them. But they may come around in time. Instead of using your energy on an argument, take space. Leave the situation. Give it time. Allow them time to process it if needed, but do not allow them to make it about them. Keep taking space and giving time until they’re ready to speak about this on your terms.

And my last tip…

6. Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re coming out went badly, there are LGBTQ+ resources you can use to reach out. Our community is full of love and support, and whilst we all have our own experiences, we are still connected.

So lean on your allies or new people you’ve met as you immerse yourself in the LGBTQIA+ community, or use other resources to talk to someone. Some UK support charities include:

LBGT foundation: LGBT Foundation - Helpline and Email Support

LGBT Health: LGBT Health and Wellbeing

Mind LGBTIQ+ mental health: LGBTIQ+ mental health support - Mind

Find LGBT+ Support near you: Find LGBT+ support near you – Brook

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