Coming out of the closet may be the pinnacle of a person’s sexual expedition, but it’s certainly not the finale. I consider it the hooking scene at the beginning of a new story. The grand initiation for the next stage of your journey.
And I’m not gonna lie; for many, coming out is a difficult climax from a long and winding road. You’ve tried and tested the field, discovering the weird and wonderful world of human sexuality. You may have even fought it at some point, ruminating on the idea of an easier life being straight.
But the best things in life are never easy. You’ve reached that understanding, which is why you’re here. And as someone who is proudly out of the closet, I feel it’s my life purpose to give comfort in the form of facts.
So here are four things you must know before coming out of the closet. And feel free to share with those who may need to know!
The Response Doesn’t Matter
The problem with many LGBTQ movies is the way they depict the “coming out” scene. They spend too much focus on the parents. Coming out of the closet is not about gaining acceptance from others, but to ultimately accept oneself.
Indeed, acceptance from others is a wonderful thing, but it’s not the ultimate goal of coming out. There will always be people out there who accept you — and with plenty of media saturation, that number will grow.
But this is not to say that you should come out without regard for unwanted possibilities. Most of you will know how your parents will take it. Call it gut instinct, if you will.
If you think they won’t take it well, I say wait until you’re fully independent before coming out. But don’t be afraid to confide in those closest to you. Those who you know will fully support you.
As I said: there is always going to be someone out there who supports us.
But whenever you decide to come out, don’t worry about what they will say. Instead, focus on how amazing you will feel when you release the secret that has burdened you for so long.
It’s your life, not theirs.
It’s Not Your Responsibility To Mitigate Their Sadness
Your sole responsibility is how you live your life. No-one else can tell you how to do it but yourself. And it’s not your responsibility to apologise for it.
While my mother accepts me fully now, it wasn’t exactly the case when she found out. Being religious, she tried hard to get me help and point me back onto the straight and narrow. Whatever that is…
Because I was in my early teens, I didn’t have much say in things, but deep down I knew who I was. In the beginning, I tolerated all the trips to the pastor as well as the crazy religious friends who tried to talk me out of it.
All the while, I kept giving her my side of the story. I gave her the statistics, the hard facts about being gay. And eventually, we reached a pivotal understanding. We comprehend each other on a deeper level.
But I never said sorry.
And if your parents are not well-versed in the many facets of sexual discourse, then you might need to assist them as I did. You don’t have to, but it will help your relationship with them.
But never, ever, ever say sorry. Being attracted to the same sex does not need an apology. It’s as normal as eating food.
It Gets Easier
The great thing about coming out is that you’ll never have to lie again. You’ll never have to make up excuses about why you don’t have a partner. You’ll never have to “tone it down”. You’ll never have to worry if they find out.
You’ll essentially be free to be.
But all this takes time. And the best way to make it happen is to take the plunge. Just remember that it gets easier.
Right now, on the cusp of your revolutionary adulthood, you might be fearful of the next chapter. But, whether you’re accepted with open arms or met with a cold shoulder, it always gets easier. That’s because when you come out, you have to learn how to truly be yourself.
Sexuality does not affect your personality, but a lot of the world thinks it does because of the way we’ve been taught. We see sexuality as either a feminine trait for gay men and a masculine trait for women. But that’s not true. Sexuality is just a way of deciding who we like to have sex with. Nothing more, nothing less.
Alas, with the freedom you get from coming out, you begin to deconstruct the prejudices you’ve created in your mind.
Hence why it gets easier.
You Know When The Right Time Comes
I remember before I came out to my dad, I was worried he’d hate me. Thankfully, my brothers and my sister kept nudging me and I eventually told him.
“I’ve got something to tell you,” I said. And just as the final word exited my mouth, my dad smiled. He already knew. He was just waiting for me to say it.
Your parents have been around since you were born. They have been through all your tantrums, your excitements, your emotional turmoils — everything! It’s not silly to assume that they probably already know, and they are just waiting for you to say it.
If you’re unsure, try a little experiment. Find a celebrity who has recently come out, even if you already know they have, and make a comment about it during your next social gathering with mum and dad. “Oh, did you hear that [insert celebrity name] came out?” And then see how they react.
If they’re all smiles, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. They likely already know, too, which means you can tell them at any appropriate time. (But, please, not at the dinner table — that’s way too cliche.)
And even if they don’t smile, it doesn’t really mean anything. Perhaps they just don’t have a clue. But you will know if you shouldn’t come out. And if you think it’s not best, I recommend waiting until you’ve moved out and you’re independent. That way they can’t kick you out which unfortunately does happen. And if it does happen, then remember that there are places you can go to.
Of course, it will be hard if they hate you for liking the same sex. I’m not going to cover that up with rose-coloured glasses. Thankfully, the human mind is flexible, and you could bring them over to your side in time. Prejudices are learned, and things that are learned can be unlearned.
But no matter which way it goes, you will always benefit in the end. You will finally be free to be you.
The real you.