Once you've finally accepted your sexuality, you then have to go and figure out how you're going to start telling others.
I didn't decide to come out until I was 22, anxiously pacing around my bedroom and feeling like I wanted to vomit everywhere. The feelings I had for a guy inspired me to first tell my mother (who then proceeded to tell my entire family, which, looking back on it now, saved me the trouble), before slowly revealing it to my close-knit circle of friends.
I felt I was at a point in my life where I was comfortable enough with who I was and how I wanted to proceed day-to-day that it was my time to come out. I was fully prepared for what'd come my way after admitting it.
And that's the thing: Not everyone is ready to come out at the same point in life.
This isn't something to just throw yourself into. And frankly, there are some important questions any LGBTQ+ person should ask themselves before making such a huge decision in their lives:
1. Is Now The Right Time To Do This?
Coming out is probably one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, decision you'll make in your entire life.
Before you step out of that closet, you'll want to take a second to think about where you are in life. Is now the best time to speak out?
While this is not meant to discourage someone from being true about their sexuality, it's best to make sure you fully understand how life-changing this is. Are you emotionally stable, and fully prepared to expect the unexpected? Uttering “I'm gay” has the potential to bring about reactions you may not have seen coming.
You just have to make sure you're ready for what could come next.
2. Are You Prepared To Answer Questions?
As expected, people are going to want to know things about what this means for you — a lot of things.
Did you know the whole time? How many people have you slept with of the same sex? Do gays smell any different? Is that why your voice sounds like that?
While it's easy to direct them all to Google, it's best to just be open, honest, and understand that they're just asking out of pure curiosity. The people you tell are not asking out of disrespect, but rather, out wanting to know what's going on in your life.
If they aren't up to speed on the LGBT lifestyle, they'll probably need you to fill 'em in.
3. Do You Have A Support System To Turn To?
I was welcomed and accepted with open arms after coming out, but that's not the case for everyone.
As some may not be as accepting of your coming out, be sure to have options in your life that are guaranteed support systems. If home is no longer a safe place for you, look for alliances, counselors, or other local community outreach programs that comfort and house someone in similar situations.
There are plenty of places and people whom you can speak with and express how you're feeling if your coming out doesn't go as smoothly as you'd have liked it to.
4. Do You Know Whom You're Going To Tell?
Coming out is something that's extremely personal, so chances are, you're only going to tell the people closest to you.
That means you may not necessarily want to write an extensive, detailed Facebook status to thousands of your friends. No, you probably won't get on a bullhorn while standing on your work desk to tell your entire office, and no, there won't be any air writing in the clouds announcing your sexuality to the world.
If you're being practical, start by telling your best friends or immediate family members (if you feel like you can) — the ones that know you in and out and, sometimes, better than yourself.
Their reactions will (hopefully) be the best ones you receive, and they'll grant you a little bit of guidance and support while coming out to more and more people in your life.
5. Exactly How Are You Going To Come Out?
You don't need to set up this elaborate plan to come out of the closet, but it's best to not just blurt it out on a whim.
You don't want to be plastered and six vodka sodas deep when telling someone for the first time that you're a full-blown homosexual. You're going to want the situation to feel intimate and comfortable, in an environment that won't raise your anxiety more than it already is.
Whatever has inspired you to come out, use that as the driving force for how you do it. And whatever you do, don't beat around the bush. It'll only make you more anxious and can throw you off course from your point.
Coming out doesn't need to be a big spectacle if you don't want it to be.
Instead, it's something that needs to be done on your own terms, in your preferred setting, and only when you're ready.