Thoughts On Coming Out Advice & Some “Nontraditional” Ways To Come Out

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of articles, lists, blog posts, et cetera containing advice about coming out… probably because it’s Pride month, right? And, like… it’s good that people are trying to help one another, but I can’t help feeling uncomfortable while reading some of those articles. Because reasons. Specifically, there are two pieces of advice that I just really disagree with.

This will be a bit of a rant-y post, FYI.

The first bit of advice concerns methods of communication: How are you going to tell people that you’re LGBTQ+? Over and over again, I see comments saying that this needs to be a face-to-face thing, that you NEED to come out IN PERSON. And not via email, phone call, text message, et cetera.

To put it bluntly, I think this is terrible advice and makes no sense. If you want to sit down and tell someone, face-to-face, that you’re queer, then GO FOR IT. (Go you!) And if you feel safe coming out face-to-face, then go for it.

But what if you feel unsafe, or just plain uncomfortable? Coming out can be very scary and stressful and weird. Pretending otherwise is absurd, and ignores some very real worries and feelings.

I wrote my parents a letter in which I told them that I was gay, and honestly? If I hadn’t done that – if I’d waited until I felt ready to tell them face-to-face – I wouldn’t be out now. I was ready to tell them, but on my own terms and in ways that made me as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

That’s a key part of coming out, I think. You’re probably going to freak out anyway – because, like I said, coming out can be scary and stressful and weird – but you may as well avoid agonizing anxiety by coming out in a manner that suits you.

Does the thought of actually, physically saying “I’m gay” cause your stomach to twist into a knot and make you want to hide under a rock for the rest of your life? SAAAAME. ME TOO. So that’s why I did what I did. I just couldn’t imagine speaking those words, so I wrote down what I would’ve said in a letter.

THIS IS NOT WEIRD. If you would prefer to come out via an email, phone call, or text message, go for it.

The main argument against doing this seems to be, “It’s impersonal.” To which I say, “Coming out is INHERENTLY personal. It requires a lot of confidence and courage from the person who’s coming out, and implies a loooooot of trust in the person they’re coming out to. It doesn’t matter how someone comes out to you – because if they do, it means they trust you a hell of a lot. I’d say that’s pretty freaking personal.”

Coming out can involve face-to-face conversations, but it doesn’t have to. If you’re going to come out, do so in a way that makes you feel comfortable, and don’t be afraid to change things up as needed – tell someone in person, text another person, write a letter to a third. Depending on your level of comfort.

The second piece of advice I see/hear quite often is as follows: If you’re dating someone, don’t bring them with, especially if you’re coming out to a parent or close relative. Because you want to make sure that people understand that being LGBTQ+ is an inherent part of your identity and that you haven’t been unduly influenced by someone else, I guess.

But like… what about your comfort? And even more importantly, your safety? If you need someone beside you to hold your hand and make encouraging comments – if you need moral support, basically – then don’t feel weird about having your SO by your side, all right?

(I mean, I think the kind of person who would give you crap about being “made gay” by your SO is the sort of person who would give you crap about coming out anyway, no matter how you did it. So why not bring along your cute SO, if the reaction’s gonna be the same either way?)

Here’s the thing: If you want to come out face-to-face, or on your own, then you should. But if the thought of doing so makes you uncomfortable, then do whatever feels right. It’s your life, your decisions. You do you. 

It just makes me uncomfortable to see this advice repeated as… as a hard-and-fast rule, basically. I hate it when coming out via text (or whatever) or with whoever you’re dating is treated as some sort of coming out faux pas. Because it’s not. Different people have different lives, different situations, different decisions to make. Do what works best for you, and even if you, too, keep seeing a piece of advice that doesn’t seem applicable (or reasonable) to you, you absolutely should not feel like you HAVE to follow it. Take the advice with a grain of salt and don’t let it make decisions for you: YOU make the decisions about how YOU’D prefer to come out.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
This entry was posted in LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Thoughts On Coming Out Advice & Some “Nontraditional” Ways To Come Out

  1. Definitelyyyyy. And some of my friends didn’t necessarily “come out” to me – once they were comfortable with it, it kind of became common knowledge? And that was cool as well. I mean, it’s confusing enough without adding stress of the “proper” way to come out!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Exactly! Like, with some of my friends, I made a Big Announcement but with others, I just kind of slipped it into conversation. It really depended on what kind of relationship I had with all those different people? You definitely don’t HAVE to do a big, face-to-face coming out if you’d rather offhandedly mention it in a text or whatever? We have all this technology… so use it, if you like it! πŸ™‚

  2. Pingback: Pete Buttigieg & “Why Coming Out Matters” | Musings From Neville's Navel

  3. John Hansen says:

    YES YES YES YES YES. I’ve come out to almost all of my friends (and my parents) via email or text, and I honestly couldn’t be happier about it. I form my thoughts so much more clearly when I’m writing them down vs. trying to speak them aloud, and I’m also much more confident saying something so personal in writing. And honestly, I think people on the receiving end prefer coming out via text/email, too. It gives them time to process it and it spares everyone of that long, awkward pause right after you come out when the other person struggles with what to say.

    • nevillegirl says:

      YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY. I get flustered when I try to have a conversation anyway, so telling someone Big News face-to-face definitely isn’t the best idea for me.

      Right? Sometimes people blurt out the strangest things because they feel that they have to say SOMETHING but their brain is still processing the news, so they might say something rude or weird. At least with the Internet there’s a slightly longer wait time. πŸ™‚

  4. marjma2014 says:

    I think it’s lovely how you have written this article about your experiences of coming out to help other young people coping with this moment in their lives. I was interested to read that you wrote your parents a letter. Whatever path you take it’s never going to be easy telling parents, friends, so taking the path that makes you more comfortable sounds like very sound advice to me. Well done.

  5. Pingback: 2015 Pride Recap | And What To Expect In July & August | Musings From Neville's Navel

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