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.