National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, is a time to celebrate and honor queer people's diverse coming-out stories. There's no one "right" way to come out, and no two people will have the exact same experiences. If you're LGBTQIA+ but not ready to share that information with the world, you're no less queer than anyone else. There's a lot that straight allies should know about coming out. After all, if you're straight, you've probably never had to come out as straight before — so it's important to listen and understand how you can be the most respectful ally possible, today and every day.
When I came out, it took me a little more than a year to tell most of the people in my life. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't want to make a huge fuss over coming out as pansexual, since it didn't seem like that big of a deal to me. The number one thing I was concerned with was getting assurance from people that they loved and supported me. That's all I really cared about — that people wouldn't view me any differently after learning about my sexuality (unless, of course, they were also A GayTM and we'd bond over that together).
I spoke to six queer people to learn more about what they'd want their straight friends and family to know about coming out. It's important to note that no two queer people are the same, and they each have different opinions on what they'd like straight allies to know. But across the board, everyone affirmed that they'd want to be respected and supported. What that looks like for different people, of course, varies.
"I would like allies to know to listen fully when LGBTQ+ [people] come out to them," Danny tells Elite Daily. "Having someone listen to you and absorb the feeling and story you are sharing with them is incredibly important. It’s a special moment if they are choosing to share this part of their life with you. And lastly everyone’s story is going to be unique so having patience is important. I wish I knew how supportive everyone was going to be especially my family. It made me worry to share with friends and family because they never talked about the LGBTQ+ community when I was young. It was something I had very little knowledge of, but knew something was out there."
"I wish straight allies would know that my sexuality doesn’t define me," Selena tells Elite Daily. "It doesn’t need to be talked about after the fact unless I bring it up. It’s just another part of what makes me, me."
"Be supportive, kind, and use the correct pronouns for people when they come out," Hannah tells Elite Daily. "Something that pertains to specifically bisexual folks is that it really hurts when someone asks me if I'm like a 'real lesbian' now. Because I am bi and sometimes identify as only dating women, I feel so weird when I get asked if I'm a 'real' queer person. Bisexual people are definitely queer and like whoever they're dating doesn't affect that. I think there's a weird trend of discounting bi people's sexualities and I think that is one of the most important things I want straight allies to make sure to remember."
“I think it’s important to know that just because someone is out to you doesn’t mean they’re out to everyone," Dalia tells Elite Daily. "Follow their lead in what they disclose to other people, and don’t expose anything unless you're sure it's OK."
"[Coming out] can be as simple as a coworker asking me if I was planning on bringing my boyfriend to a work function and my correcting them saying I will be bringing my girlfriend," Giselle tells Elite Daily. "There is no need to apologize or feel guilty for assuming I am heterosexual because we are raised in a predominantly heteronormative culture and I present as classically 'straight.'"
"That being said, I would like straight people to try to open their [minds] about others' sexualities and try to resist assigning a sexual preference to someone before finding out," she continues. "Not every LGBTQ+ person is going to look 'butch' or 'like a twink.' The best way to react is to say 'great!' and not to question it."
It's as easy as that: Show respect, listen, and be supportive.
*Names have been changed at the source's request due to privacy concerns.
For more stories like this one, visit Elite Daily's Coming Out page.
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