5 Tips For Coming Out To Your Roommate & Feeling At Home In Your Home
For a lot of queer people (myself 100% included), coming out can be a multi-step process. Like, "more steps than building an IKEA shelving unit" level kind of process. From sharing with your friends and family to telling teachers or coworkers, letting the people around you know who are you is no small task. If you're thinking about sharing your identity with the people you share your literal space with, these tips for coming out to your roommate may help you feel at home in your home.
"Coming out, or 'inviting in', looks different for everyone as we all have our unique paths to understand and to accept ourselves with relation to our gender and sexual identities," Jor-El Caraballo, co-creator of holistic wellness center Viva Wellness and a therapist specializing in LGBTQ clients tells Elite Daily. "As most of us still live in cultures that aren't yet fully accepting of LGBTQ folks, coming out on your own terms is a way of establishing control and walking in one's power."
Whether you sit your roommate down for a long talk or you casually open up about your identity over breakfast, here are five expert tips for coming out to your roommate.
1. Test the waters.
In a perfect world, you and your roommate would clean the kitchen the same amount and agree that being queer is a gift to humanity — without needing any further discussion. Of course, if you're sharing a dorm with a randomly assigned roomie or you don't know your roommate's politics, you may have no idea where they stand on LGBTQ issues. "Get the temperature about how your roommates respond and react to other LGBTQ folks beforehand," Caraballo says. Whether you ask them about famous queer celebrities or inquire about current events that have to do with LGBTQ rights, testing the waters may help you feel comfortable before opening up about your own identity.
Additionally, if your roomie is another queer angel or you're confident that they will be affirming of your identity, "coming out" to them doesn't need to be a big thing. Whether you bring home a bunch of free pastries and simply mention that your girlfriend is a barista or casually let them know that mail may come to your deadname, expressing yourself in your home can be as low-key as you want it to be.
2. Know that coming out may impact your living environment.
"If things go well, how do you think that would change or affect things in the home? What if things go sour?" Caraballo says. "These are important things to think about beforehand with the risks of coming out." You deserve to live openly and comfortably in your own home. While you certainly never need to hide or feel ashamed about who you are, thinking about how coming out may impact your living environment can help you make the best plans moving forward.
Since no two cases are the same, this can look like an array of outcomes. Maybe your roommate is also queer and now expects you to go to queer parties with them when you'd prefer to stay in a read a book (@ me). Maybe your roommate doesn't know any queer people and now asks you all flavors of intrusive questions (I've been there, too). Whatever the case, having a plan before having a talk (i.e. saying, "I'm not going to answer any personal questions, or I'm not going to feel pressure to go out") can help you establish some healthy roommate boundaries.
3. Know how to build yourself up.
Sharing your identity with the people you live with can be an incredibly vulnerable experience. Taking some time before coming out to get in tune with your body and mind may help you feel strong and in control as you talk to your roommate.
"Build yourself up as much as possible before you come out to anyone," Marissa LaRocca, award-winning writer, speaker, and LGBTQ+ activist tells Elite Daily. "Listen to your favorite music, journal, make a list of all your strengths and all the things you love about yourself, and spend time with people who accept you for who you authentically are."
Building yourself up as much as you can before coming out can help you express yourself to your roommate with confidence. "Being able to be the captain of that ship is an empowering first step in a lifetime of owning who you are and walking with self-acceptance and profound confidence," Caraballo says.
4. Remember that you don't owe them (or anyone else!) an explanation.
You and your roommate may share the body wash your mom gave you for your birthday, but that doesn't mean you have to share all the intimate details of your life. If you're not ready, not comfortable, not feeling it, or just not interested in coming out to your roommate, you don't have to. Additionally, if you live with a group of people and you want to come out to some but not all, or you're not comfortable with your roommate telling anyone else about your identity (i.e., their mom or friends), you get to choose who knows and how much they know. It's completely OK for you to ask (read: demand) that your roomie respect your privacy and not talk about your identity to others. It's also OK to partially share or share whatever you feel comfortable with (i.e. Maybe you mention that your trans but don't mention that you're looking into top surgery or maybe you tell them that you're gay but you don't want to talk about who you're dating.)
"One's gender identity and sexuality are really personal things, and no one should ever feel obligated to share with others anything they do not feel comfortable (or safe) sharing," LaRocca says.
No one is entitled to knowing personal information about you or your identity. If you want to come out to your roomie but you don't want to go into detail, you don't have to. If you want to come out to them but you don't want to answer any questions, you don't have to. You get to decide when and if you tell them, as well as how much you tell them.
5. Have A Backup Plan.
In an ideal setting, your roommate would have nothing but uplifting and positive things to say to you in response, and you would both continue living your merry lives. Of course, if you're not sure how your roommate is going to respond, or you fear that they may not respond respectfully and compassionately, it may be helpful to have a backup plan.
"If you suspect that things could go really negatively for you, have an escape plan," LaRocca says. "Make arrangements in advance to stay at a trusted friend's house for a few days if needed. Never, ever put yourself in harm's way. Prioritize your own peace, safety, and sanity."
Let me start by saying: you are strong and powerful, and you matter to the world. Though it's painful to think about, if you find that your roommate is not affirming or nourishing to you, it's always OK to GTFO. Whether you crash with a friend or stay with a boo, your safety is paramount.
If you're thinking about coming out to your roommate, try seeing how they feel about queer rights and LGBTQ issues before sharing your own story. You deserve to live somewhere uplifting and empowering, and ensuring your personal safety can be a significant step before expressing your identity to someone that you live with. It's essential to feel safe and comfortable where you are. And just as you get to choose how to decorate your bedroom, your get to choose how to come out to your roommate.
For more stories like this one, visit Elite Daily's Coming Out page.