National Coming Out Day
On October 11th, 1988, the very first National Coming Out Day was observed. This date was chosen as it was the one-year anniversary of the march on Washington, D.C., for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This Nationally recognized day aims to raise awareness for members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as highlight the fact that homophobia thrives in silence. It is not only a day that many members of the LGBTQ+ community choose to ‘come out’ to their family members about their identity as LGBTQ+, but also a day to celebrate the ability to be openly out about gender/sexual identity.
Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
Gender identity and sexual orientation can be important factors in who we are and how we express ourselves. Other factors of identity that can be impactful regarding who we are include race, ethnicity, different disabilities, nationality, age, social class, and religion. While gender identity may only be one piece of the puzzle, it can be an important piece to who we are and feeling supported in this aspect can be instrumental in feeling validated .
When and Where to Come Out
The most important part about choosing when and where to come out, is ensuring you are safe, comfortable, and free of pressure. No one should ever feel forced into coming out before they are ready. This is your own identity and choosing to share this information with others is something only you can decide, if and when you are ready. Choosing to come out can be very freeing and can allow for a more open identity. However, no one is ever forced to come out and many people live authentic lives without ever publicly announcing their LGBTQ+ identity. If you are choosing to come out, make sure you are doing it for your benefit, and not for others .
Additionally, timing can be important in terms of your own needs. For instance, do you want to wait until after the Holiday season in case there are negative responses? Do you want to wait until the end of the day, so you do not have to worry about going to school/work following this discussion? Do you want to make sure you talk about this during a time when you both will be able to sit and discuss for a while, or do you prefer to tell them and then leave them with the information to ponder and discuss in detail later? .
Just as timing has questions to consider, so does the location. These questions can include asking yourself if you would prefer to talk to this person in private or in public if the area you would be talking in would be safe for you, where you would feel most comfortable, and if the location may have any special meaning for you .
How to Come Out
When you have decided to come out to others, there is no right or wrong way to go about this process. The choice of if and when to share this information with someone is personal and depends upon your comfort level, your relationship with the person, and the pros and cons of telling each individual. A few examples of ways to come out include:
- Writing a letter
- Calling someone on the phone
- Sending a text message or email
- Telling someone in person
You may discover the right moment comes up organically to discuss this topic, or it may be something you choose to plan out in advance. Planning in advance will involve preparing what you want to say, as well as writing out the details of how this process ideally looks for you. It can also be helpful to practice on people who already know, have been through the process, or are trained in this area. For example, you may practice with a therapist, a friend who has also come out to loved ones, or LGBTQ+ employees at an LGBTQ+ center .
How to Handle Negative Responses
If you are thinking of coming out, an important component is considering potential responses, both positive and negative. While it may not necessarily make it less hurtful when receiving negative responses, preparing for those responses could, at the very least, assist in figuring out how to respond and what your response will include. While you are never going to be able to prepare for all reactions, it can alleviate some anxiety to prepare for potential responses .
Safety With Coming Out
While movements surrounding support of the LGBTQ+ community have made many more educated and in support of individuals with these identities, there are still those out there who do not provide support or even are hateful to these individuals. It is imperative to remember that someone else’s negative reaction does not reflect the reality of this identity. The safety and well-being of those in the LGBTQ+ community are the goals of a variety of organizations that are currently serving this demographic. A list of those resources can be accessed here .
Testing out What to Expect
Sometimes with loved ones you may not be sure of their feelings or opinions regarding LGBTQ+ individuals. This can make it hard to know their reaction when you come out to them, so ask some questions that can give you an idea of where their mindset is at. For instance, you could ask how they feel about a celebrity who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, their opinions on marriage equality, or their words utilized during discussions involving LGBTQ+ stereotypes. While this does not necessarily give you a definitive answer regarding how your loved one will react to your identity confirmation, it will provide you with some insight into their own opinions, which may help to identify their own beliefs and opinions .
If you are looking for a therapist to discuss your journey with coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, our therapists through Online-Therapy.com provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
We have a variety of therapists who would love to help you with mental health concerns. Our platform offers a complete online therapy toolbox which includes time with a personal therapist who can support you throughout your journey. If this is something you have an interest in, we would love to hear from you.
Human Rights Campaign.Celebrate National Coming Out Day with HRC! (https://www.hrc.org/resources/national-coming-out-day). Accessed on 10/06/22.
National Today. National Coming Out Day-October 11, 2022. (https://nationaltoday.com/national-coming-out-day/). Accessed on 10/06/22.
The Trevor Project. The Coming Out Handbook. (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/guide/the-coming-out-handbook/). Accessed on 10/05/22.
USGA. Navigating Coming Out: Tips for National Coming Out Day. (https://nationaltoday.com/national-coming-out-day/). Accessed on 10/06/22.