How to Come Out as an LGBTQA Adult
Most of us had a childhood filled with subtle and overt lessons about how people and things “should” be. Our family, culture, and society expect us to fit into a specific mold and behave a certain way. Because of the type of upbringing that many people experience, it can be complicated for people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and asexual (LGBTQA) community to come out to family and friends and live openly as who they are.
What Does It Mean to “Come Out”?
There is no wrong way or time to come out; how, when, or if you do so is uniquely personal to you. For LGBTQA people, to “come out” is acknowledging and letting others know about their sexual or gender identity. To not come out means withholding who you are from people you know and may care about, and you may have to lie and pretend. For some people, hiding is less stressful than being open. Don’t feel pressure to come out; you are the only one who can decide what is the best life for you.
Coming Out as an Adult
Coming out later in life poses some unique challenges. Not everyone you come out to will be accepting, and some relationships may permanently change. Family, friends, and co-workers see you in a certain way and maybe be shaken when they realize that you are not the person they thought they knew. By adulthood, many people are already established in their careers and may even be married and have children.
However, suppose you’re ready to come out. In that case, it will bring many benefits to you and your relationships, such as reduced stress from hiding your identity, increased self-esteem by being known and loved for who you are, and the development of more prosperous and genuine relationships.
What to Say
You may want to start by writing out what you want to say so you can organize your thoughts and feelings. Some people prefer to tell their loved ones face to face, while others would instead send an email or make a phone call. Whatever way you choose, be sure to come out at a time when you’re not angry or arguing with someone. Also, remember that if you receive a negative or less than accepting response, this is just their initial reaction; they may need additional time to process what you’ve shared with them.
Coming out is never easy. It may be difficult and awkward at first, but it will ultimately bring you joy and free you from the burden of hiding an integral part of you who you are.
If you’re looking for support and guidance on coming out as an LGBTQA adult, I can help. You can reach me through my website or call me at 480-741-8235.