1 - BEFORE COMING OUT
1.1. Coming out is not a "must" but just something you can feel you need. Never let yourself be pressured into coming out before you are ready. Remember that the decision to come out is yours. Don't be guilt-tripped into it by people who think that everyone must come out or by snooping people who ask impertinent questions. You can usually decide when, where, how, and to whom you wish to come out. At this stage in our society, full public declarations about one's sexuality are not necessarily the best decision for most people.
1.2. Be clear about your feelings about being gay. If you are still dealing with a lot of guilt or depression, seek help in getting over that before coming out to parents or other non-gay people. It could be a good idea calling a gay switchboard. Most major cities have one. You may want to call from a telephone box if want to keep everything private. If you are comfortable with your gayness or bisexuality, those to whom you
are considering coming out will often see that fact and be aided in their renewed acceptance of you.
1.3. Don't come out unless you are able to respond with confidence to the question "Are you sure about your sexual orientation?" Confusion on your part will increase your parents' confusion and decrease their confidence in your judgment. If you feel guilty or are very unhappy, you'll be better off not coming out right away. Coming out may require tremendous energy on your part. It would be important to feel good about yourself.
1.4. Do you know enough about being gay or bisexual? Be sure that you are well informed about homosexuality. Read some good books about the subject and share them with individuals to whom you have come out.
Your parents and friends will probably respond based on a lifetime of information from a homophobic society (people who don't understand what being gay is about). If you have talked to others about being gay or bisexual and read booklets, leaflets or books on the subject, you will feel better prepared to put your parents' fears
to rest. You may want to save a couple of leaflets to give to your parents when the time is right.
1.5. Don't plan on doing anything else for the rest of the day or of the night, especially if you come out to your family.
1.6. When coming out with your family, always have an escape plan. You may really not need it, but if you do, you won't be surprised. Have a place to crash for the night, and money you can get to in case a worst-case scenario does occur.
1.7. Have resources for you to call -- you need support too! In the event that your parents totally flip out and really upset you, there should be someone or a support group that you can confidently turn to for emotional support.
1.8. Remember that no two coming out experiences are ever the same. Don't rely too much on your friends' good or bad experiences.
2 COMING OUT: PREPARE YOURSELF
2.1. Come out in a comfortable and quiet surrounding. Never come out in a moving vehicle... or in a busy place or in a busy moment.
2.2. Be sober. No dramas, no pleading, be yourself. Coming out in drag, for instance, could be a bit too much... Don't have your lover with you. This is not "Let's Make a Deal" -- more surprises are not good.
2.3. Breathe, (seriously!) especially if you feel nervous or irritated.
2.4. Never come out during an argument. Never use coming out as a weapon to hurt someone. Never encourage parents to feel guilty for having "caused" your sexual orientation -- because they didn't.
2.5. If your audience had that deer in the headlights look, don't make any quick moves.
2.6. Do not try to answer questions about Richard Simmons, Rosie O'Donnell, Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Richard Gere, Oscar Wilde, Bert and Ernie, or anyone else.
2.7. Just because you come out to someone once, doesn't mean you won't have to do it again, and again, and again.
2.8. Coming out is one of the most difficult things we do in our lives. It won't always go well, but at time it is a very freeing experience. Anyway, try not to let your family and close friends find out about your gayness from third parties such as
neighbors or the media. Try to tell them personally beforehand.
2.9. And finally, remember it is your life to live, and you only have one, and the bottom line is that you are going to continue living as a gay person no matter what their reaction is.
3 COMING OUT: TO FRIENDS OR COLLEAGUES
3.1. Come out to one people at a time and somewhere private.
3.2. Timing can be very important in coming out. Be aware of the health, mood, priorities and problems of those with whom you would like to share your sexual orientation. The mid-life crises of parents, the relationship problems of friends, the business concerns of employers and countless other factors over which you have no control can affect another's receptivity to your information.
3.3. A casual or offhand approach often works best with work mates and also with relatives. Sometimes a confrontational situation can be avoided simply by being honest, in a conversational way, about whom you live with and date, and how you spend your leisure time. The other person is given a chance to recognize the circumstances of your life and your homosexuality without being obliged to make some immediate response on this issue.
3.4. They will need time and space to think about things before any discussion takes place. People will need a lot of time, for the most part, to really think about things. Remember that it takes many gay men and lesbians a very long time to come to terms with their own sexuality and even longer to decide to share the fact with others. When you come out to non-gay people, be prepared to give them time to adjust and to comprehend the new information about you. Don't expect immediate acceptance. Look for ongoing, caring dialogue.
3.5. Be prepared that your revelation may surprise, anger or upset other people, at first. Try not to react angrily or defensively. Try to let other people be honest about their initial feelings even if they are negative. Remember that the initial reaction will not likely be the long-term one. Ultimately, the individuals who have really faced and dealt with their homophobia may be far more supportive than those who give an immediate but superficial expression of support.
3.6. Be ready for them to drill you with questions that may or may not offend you.
3.7. If you are rejected by someone to whom you have come out, do not lose sight of your own self worth. Remember that your coming out was a gift of sharing an important part of yourself which that person has chosen to reject. If rejection does come, consider whether the relationship was really worthwhile. Is any relationship so important that it must continue in an atmosphere of hiding? Was the person really your friend or simply the friend of someone he/she imagined you to be?
3.8. There are people who will never be supportive no matter what is said. But remember also that the loss of a friend is not the end of the world. Coming-out decisions must be made cautiously, but integrity and self-respect are extremely important in the long run.
4 COMING OUT:
TO PARENTS AND RELATIVES
4.1. Why do you want to come out to your parents? Hopefully, it is because you love them and are fed up with the distance you feel. When coming out to parents or family, try to affirm mutual caring and love before launching into your announcement about your gay or lesbian life.
4.2. Have patience. Your parents will need time to deal with the news. This may last from
a few months to years.
4.3. Emphasize that you are still the same person. You were gay yesterday and will be gay tomorrow. If you were responsible and caring yesterday,
you will be loving and responsible tomorrow.
4.4. If your parents need to talk to someone about you being gay, then they can call Parents Support through one of this groups. Visit their pages and
4.5. Are you financially dependant on your parents? If you think your parents may cut you off financially or throw you out, it may be better to wait until you are more financially secure. Not everyone should come out to their parents...don't feel pressured.
4.6. Parents and other people who are ignorant about gayness or bisexuality may say things initially that they don't realize are painful to hear. Remember they are simply unaware and probably in a state of surprise.
4.7. They have to deal with (1) the issue of gay stuff, (2) you as a person and (3) the combination of the two since you probably don't fit the stereotype they have about gay people.
4.8. Encourage your parents or others to whom you come out to meet some of your lesbian and gay friends.
4.9. And, after all, they may already know...
5 AND IF YOU DECIDE TO COME OUT...
5.1. Well, if you are here, you probably have already read some articles from various web-sites (see the list in the "links" section of our site). If you need to know more about being gay or bisexual then look under 'Gay' in the white pages and you are sure to find a service near where you live that may help you.
5.2. Keep lines of communication open with people after you come out to them - even if their response is negative. Respond to their questions and remember that they are probably in the process of reexamining the myths and stereotypes about gay people which we all have learned from our culture.
5.3. Whenever you come out, reflect upon the experience and learn from it.
5.4. In summary: before coming out, talk to someone trustworthy! And remember: