If You're Scared To Come Out, Here Are 7 Resources That Are Here For You
Coming out can be a multi-faceted process, one that brings about a rollercoaster of emotions including excitement, fear, elation, anxiety, and relief, among other feelings. It’s totally normal to feel scared to come out. After all, doing so can entirely depend on your own unique circumstances. Fortunately, there is a slew of super helpful resources that can answer some of your burning questions, as well as offer invaluable guidance on coming out on your terms.
No two coming out stories are the same, which is a beautiful thing —and your life experiences, personality, age, race, location, religion, and so many other factors can impact how you feel about it and how you approach it. Perhaps you're concerned about your friends’ or family members’ reactions, or maybe you're worried that coming out will negatively impact your relationships. You may even be concerned that you'll be exposed to harassment or discrimination. But before you let those fears get the better of you, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the world is better because you're in it. You deserve to live an incredibly fulfilling life doing meaningful work, building healthy and happy relationships, and feeling both accepted and loved.
The reality is, coming out can be scary. But that’s where these resources come in — not only do they pose an array of important considerations around coming out, but they might alleviate some of the common fears around this monumental decision. Whether you're trying to decide whether or not you're ready to come out, wondering how to personalize your coming out process, or looking for guidance on how to come out in different contexts, here are some websites that are sure to provide valuable insight and much-needed reassurance.
The Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has multiple resources that may come in handy, particularly the downloadable Resource Guide to Coming Out. This guide offers extensive, detailed advice on a number of topics that can apply to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including how to develop a plan for coming out, tips for telling family members, and what to know about living openly on your terms.
By the way, the HRC also has a Transgender Visibility guide, which focuses specifically on the unique factors for trans individuals to consider when developing a plan for coming out. The guide even offers separate guidance on how to have a conversation with your family, friends, partner, and parents. If you identify as bi, be sure to scope out the HRC's resource guide specifically for bisexuals, which covers making sure you're safe to come out, how to come out in a variety of contexts, and ways to deal with reactions. The HRC also has a resource guide to coming out for African Americans. And if you're looking for advice on coming out in particular contexts, you might want to look through the HRC's guide to coming out to your doctor, or coming out at work.
Inside Out Youth Services
If you’re coming out in college, grad school, or high school, it’s worth reading Know Your Rights: A Guide For Trans And Gender Nonconforming Students, an educational resource on Inside Out's website compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
Not only does this guide include information on all of the federal and state laws that protect you from harassment and discrimination, but it also explains in-depth how schools are required to respect your gender identity and expression. Additionally, there is some specific advice on how to talk to your teachers and other staff about coming out or transitioning.
The It Gets Better Project
The It Gets Better Project has an honorable mission: to “uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe,” and the nonprofit has a number of potentially helpful resources.
If you’re scared to come out, it might be useful to read or hear first-person accounts from peers who have faced similar challenges. On the Stories page, you can view thousands of It Gets Better's videos from strangers around the globe to world-famous celebs like Adam Lambert and Laverne Cox. Additionally, if you’re specifically interested in hearing about the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer individuals, you can filter the stories by orientation.
Don’t forget to check out the It Gets Better Project's Queerbook, which features inspiring "senior quotes" from a bevy of celebs who’ve come out.
The Trevor Project
The name of their resource — Coming Out as You — says it all. This comprehensive guide is aimed at helping you navigate your own journey. It includes valuable guidance on such topics as how to test the waters with people before fully coming out, evaluating the best timing and location for you to come out, and prioritizing self-care while coming out.
Perhaps the best part of this resource is that it includes a multitude of thought-provoking questions (and blank spaces for answering) that can help you to dig deep and figure out what’s going to work best for you during the coming out process. For example, under the self-care section, the questions include: “What helps me to stay healthy, relaxed, and positive?”, “What could I add to my own safety plan?”, and “Who could I call if I need help or support?”
It's also worth noting that the Trevor Support Center features answers to a plethora of frequently asked questions about coming out. And if you need urgent support, you can also contact Trevor’s counselors via a phone call, online chat, or text.
Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays
If coming out to your parents is what’s giving you the most anxiety and apprehension, then you’ll definitely want to read PFLAG’s thorough guide. This resource includes questions to ask yourself before coming out, and what to potentially expect from their response to this news.
This guide packed with insight into the stages a parent typically goes through after their child comes out, including (but not limited to) shock, guilt, and acceptance.
Also, you may want to take a look at PFLAG's Recommended Reading list, which includes a handful of books that center around navigating the process of coming out.
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network recognizes that coming out is an intensely complex process, which is why the organization compiled a special resource guide that covers some key things to think about as you consider doing so. This includes recommendations on finding a support person to come out to one-on-one, having a separate process for coming out and sharing your gender identity, finding an LGBTQ community and building a support system, and what to do if someone else accidentally or intentionally outs you.
The LGBT National Help Center
As you weigh the potential benefits and risks of coming out, you may find that hashing out your concerns with a real person is the best way to overcome some of your fears and figure out the best plan of action for you, whether that means delaying coming out, gradually coming out to only certain people, or a different approach entirely. That’s where The LGBT National Help Center comes in. This nonprofit’s LGBTQ Youth Hotline (which serves individuals age 25 and under) and LGBTQ National Hotline (which serves callers of all ages) provides counseling, support, and information from a trained volunteer peer counselor via phone, text, and online chat.
Coming out can come with so many emotions, which is why it can also be beneficial to talk to an LGBTQ-positive therapist, counselor, or other mental health professional. Psychology Today has a massive directory of mental health professionals, and there’s a filter to narrow your search by the therapist’s specialization and sexuality, among other classifications. The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network also provides a directory of LGBTQ therapists across the country. And Pride Counseling offers a service that connects you with licensed therapists that are specifically educated on the LGBTQ community. In order to get personalized therapist matches for your specific needs, the service will ask you to answer questions about your orientation, gender identity, and the state of your physical, mental, and emotional health. You can also take advantage of an e-counseling platform like Talkspace or BetterHelp, both of which have counselors who specialize in LGBTQ issues. Also, your city or state’s LGBTQ centers may have staff therapists trained to work with the LGBTQ community, or can at least refer you to local therapists who can.
If you’re a college student, your campus might offer an LGBTQ group or community center. Otherwise, research meet-ups in your local community, talking to others who have already come out may give you just the motivation, strength, and confidence you need before coming out.
Since there’s no one right way to come out, the most important thing to consider before embarking on this journey is to be absolutely sure that you feel safe and supported. These resources may help you to more prepared if and when you do decide to come out, but remember: you don’t owe your truth to anyone, and you should never feel pressured to come out before you feel 100% ready to do so.
For more stories like this one, visit Elite Daily's Coming Out page.