How do you come out to your friends and family even when you’re nervous to?

I think, personally, the importance lies with how we understand what ‘coming out’ is as a process. The phrase itself can often be fuelled by more fear than found freedom because the term ‘out’ can imply a door you have to open that swings shut the moment you step out. That isolation can feel scary. I learned how to use language solely for myself. I swapped ‘coming out’ for ‘coming in.’ That way I could centre myself in this poignant and monumental moment. I often think about coming out into two separate parts: the coming out process I had internally with myself, which was an emancipation through having multiple conversations (sometimes arguments) with my body and spirit—which felt like coming home within myself. The second is the coming out process in which the “goal” was to articulate who I was to others. This part is often pushed as the most important, but I truly think coming into yourself and coming out to yourself and coming to terms with new futures and options for yourself is truly where you find freedom.

I urge everybody to ensure they are ready for it—to even question if you are doing it because you feel you would like to or if you feel you have to. Constantly check in with yourself to make sure this is something you are consenting to. Alongside that, I think it’s important to have a circle of people around you that can support you in this, whether it be emotional support whilst doing it, someone to call after, someone to read queer theories with, or someone to hug and hold if you don’t feel supported or seen in that moment.

Community and chosen family can really come through when biological family dynamics can’t—lean on one another!

When I came out, I lost a lot. It meant, in turn, that my queerness was always something I would have to navigate through a lens of compromise. Now I wish I stuck to my non-negotiables when coming out. You don’t have to answer questions, you don’t have to sit there whilst someone questions you, you don’t have to wait and be patience and deal with abuse whilst people are ‘coming to terms’ with your identity, you don’t have to defend your sexuality or gender or presentation, you don’t have to feel like you have the answers and can give them to others. You can feel scared, you can feel exhausted, you can feel cheated for having to even go through this process. Sometimes it is engulfed in joy and sometimes it isn’t—both are okay.

Go where it's warm. It might not be the friends and family you started with, but community can hold you like nothing else. Just remind yourself there can only be room for others if first there is room for you.

Coming out is one of the most nerve wracking things on the planet. If you’re going through this right now, I feel for you. As difficult as it was, I feel like I came out on the other side more understood and loved than ever. Above all else, keep in mind that the cis and straight people in your life never had to come out to you, so you certainly do not owe anyone a proclamation of your identity. If coming out is something that you want to do and deem safe to do, then I think it can be amazing and freeing. There is truly nothing worse than keeping parts of yourself hidden, especially from the ones you love most. I am no expert, but I will share with you the process and steps I took when coming out and coming to terms with my sexuality and gender.

I recommend being real with yourself on whether or not it is safe to come out.

If you’re worried it might affect your physical safety, housing, or financial stability, then it’d be best to pinpoint at least one person in your life you absolutely know is safe to talk to and start there. This could be a best friend, a therapist, or even a trusted guidance counselor. This person hopefully understands your circumstances and may be able to help you figure out the best steps to take.

The first person I ever told I was queer was a newer friend who had come out to me a couple weeks prior. It was one summer in high school, and this new friend of mine was a girl in a couple of my classes at music camp. I felt safe around her because I related to her in a way I hadn’t yet with my friends back home. I never even told my new friend that she was the first person I came out to, though she probably had some sort of idea, as it seemed almost every day there was some new nugget of queer culture she had to catch me up on following a I-can’t-believe-you’ve-never-heard-of-this gasp. We spent that summer updating my wardrobe, following my new favorite queer and trans icons, and catching up on tv and movies. I also spent those weeks contemplating how and when I would tell my friends and family at home about the summer I had, and introduce them to the new person I felt I was becoming. I ultimately settled on waiting until it felt like the right time, which I was convinced would never present itself, but eventually did, each at different times with the people I loved most in my life.

Visualize feeling love and belonging while being the most open version of yourself. Allow the power of that vision to give you the courage to share that part of yourself with your friends and family. Regardless of how they respond, you’ll know you’ve overcome fear and honored the most authentic vision you have for your life. I love that for you!

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