Coming out and sharing your sexuality can be liberating, but also terrifying. You're allowing other people to know the most intimate parts of yourself, which can be rewarding. But you're also opening up in a way that could cause an influx of rejection and pain. The
best and hardest parts of coming out are different for each queer person.
For me, one of the best parts of coming out as pansexual was having someone I told early on be excited and overjoyed because she identified as bisexual. We excitedly shared our journeys and feelings about our queerness. One of the hardest parts was that I was dating a guy when I figured out my sexuality, and I wasn't sure how to come out to him.
But my experiences are mine, and there are tons of other queer stories out there. No two people share the exact same trials and triumphs after telling people how they truly identify, especially since coming out is more than just a one-time thing — it's an ongoing process, and not everyone you tell is going to have the exact same reaction. Elite Daily spoke to six LGBTQIA+ people to learn about the best and hardest parts of their experiences coming out.
Danny, 23, felt incredibly relieved to come out.
The best part: The best parts of coming out is the feeling of this weight lifted off your shoulders, allowing yourself to be your true self, and finding your own family within the LGBTQ+ community. The easiest part comes after telling so many people. I now feel comfortable just coming out to people or if they happen to ask, I will say that I’m gay. The hardest part: The hardest part was saying the words aloud as well as truly meaning the words. I wanted to reach the point where I could say I’m gay and proud. And I did but it took so many years to feel comfortable to say them to myself. I did not expect the positive reaction I was going to receive. Before I came out, I tried to think of every possible situation and I was so wrapped up in the negatives that I couldn’t see the positive outcome as a [possibility].
Hannah, 23, acknowledges that coming out is an ongoing process.
The best part: The best part about coming out has been when I am in a new relationship with a girl and I just mention something about my girlfriend to people that I've known forever and they blink for a second while they take in what that means. I really love it when people do small gestures like ask me how my girlfriend is doing, or ask if I have a partner, to show they see and accept me and who I want to date. The hardest part: The hard part is that there are still tons of people in my life that I haven't come out to and I don't plan on it. But I don't feel like less-than as a result of that. This is partially because I never had to come out as straight so I don't feel like it needs to be a conversation with certain people.
Giselle, 25, feels free after coming out to her family.
The best part: The best part in coming out is the freedom. I was always free and able to do what I wanted and be with who I wanted, but now I feel free to bring a girl home to my parents and extended family without worrying about an explanation. The hardest part: The hardest part about coming out is probably the disbelief. I have always appeared very feminine and worn dresses, heels, and lipstick, so sometimes people do not believe me, largely other queer women who present more 'gay' than me. It was also hard to admit to my family that if I want to have children and am with a woman, it will be more of a process. That being said, my parents are very supportive. My father even tried to 'relate' to me when he found out I was dating a woman by insisting we watch the TV show Lost Girl together. He said the show is about 'a bisexual with magic powers, like you!' It was very sweet, although the graphic sexual nature of the show is not exactly what I want to watch with my father. The gesture was touching nonetheless.
Dalia*, 24, thinks it's easy coming out to people who don't know her that well.
The best part: I think that for most people, being gay is much more than just who you date [and] sleep with. Being able to share these huge parts of yourself that were once hidden is so relieving. The hardest part: For me it was much harder to tell people who I’ve known all my life. Because it's inevitably going to change the way they see me. But it was easy telling people I’d just met.
Theresa, 24, was scared of the unknown.
The best part: First, I felt like a [huge] weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Seriously, as scared as I had been of the unknown and people's reactions before I came out, the relief I felt no longer having to hide this huge part of my identity was indescribable. Second, I personally felt as though I cared even less about what people thought of me after I came out. I knew it was risky; however, I truly felt like my confidence levels have soared since embracing my sexual identity. The hardest part: The hardest part of coming out for me was definitely the unknown — what my family would say, what my friends would think, would I even be happy, would strangers make comments to me every day of my life. Because the coming out process never truly ends for any queer person, I still have these fears to this day. Still, they get much easier to manage over time.
Selena*, 21, had some fears about coming out.
The best part: An easy part is realizing you don’t need to hide something about yourself to those that you’re closest with. The hardest part: [The] hardest part about coming out is the irrational fear that when you say it out loud, you're going to change your mind.
If you haven't come out yet, for any reason whatsoever, take comfort in that out queer people have experienced very similar feelings to yours at some point before they told people. You're not alone.
*Name has been changed. For more stories like this one, visit Elite Daily's Coming Out page. Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV. Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!