In this coming out post we’ll be talking about what it really means to come out and why you would even want to. When we think of coming out we imagine a single event. You reveal youre sexuality to your most important people, and you’re done. But, it’s much more complex than that. It also involves many aspects of yourself, not just your sexuality.
Feeling Different is Important
Our feelings of being different at least somewhat define us. Understanding the impact of those feelings is important. For most of us, they created shame which forced us to hide in order to protect ourselves. Your sexuality may not be the only thing you hid. You likely hid anything that made you feel weird, or not normal, anything that emphasized your differentness. Hiding may have become your primary coping mechanism. It can be so powerful that you’ve even hidden things from yourself. The idea of coming out can be applied to anything that you’re hiding.
It's not a Single Event
Coming out isn’t a one-time event, it’s a life-long process. As we live we learn and grow bringing a deeper understanding of who we are. These discoveries need to expressed openly with others. This ongoing process of opening can be tough, but it gets a lot easier over time.
Opening up can take many forms. Let’s say you’ve come out as bisexual. That’s a huge step. When you find yourself in your first same-sex relationship it can feel like coming out all over again. It’s one thing for someone to know you’re attracted to guys, but another to witness it. The journey is even more complex for men who are sexually fluid. By experiencing your attraction dynamics you learn a lot about yourself. Eventually, you need to share your discoveries with the people in your life.
My boyfriend identified as bi when I first met him. He recently came out to me as pansexual. I always sensed that kind of flexibility in him, so I was thrilled that he was conformable enough to tell me. Deep self-honesty is essential when we aren’t “normal”. It’s always the first step to finding peace, and a good life.
It's About You
Coming out is about you. It should always be on your terms. You get to decide how open you want to be, with whom, and in what contexts. Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about doing it.
Sometimes coming out just happens. Circumstances unfold and someone figures it out and asks you. That’s the way it happened for me with my family. Probably because I was so young. It all worked out for me, but when I come out to someone now I prefer to be in control.
Find an Ally
One of the most important things to do before you come out is to find an ally. They’ll usually be the first person you come out to. Your ally should be someone who will handle it well and let you be in control. You want someone close, but not too close. A coach or therapist can make a great ally. Your ally’s role is to give you perspective on yourself, and the people in your life. They can also be crucial in helping you deal with difficult situations if they arise. But, even if there are challenges, being more open will always empower you.
Even though you might have thought that coming out is a one-time event it’s actually a life-long process that impacts every aspect of your life, not just your sexuality.