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Coming Out of the Closet: 20 Steps to Open a New Life Door

Coming out of the closet is easier said than done. It takes a lot of acceptance and inner strength to muster the courage to show who you are to the world.

coming out of the closet

We all see these people coming out of the closet in movies, and it seems so effortless and natural. However, the reality is much more scary and overwhelming. There are so many factors at play before you reveal who you truly are to the world. For instance, if you have kids, then you’re no longer thinking of just yourself.

You start to wonder if your kids would understand, or would they look at you differently after coming out of the closet? This is just one of the many fears you could possibly have before you come to the realization you can’t keep who you are a secret – not anymore.

We know being gay isn’t easy in society, but it also isn’t nearly as difficult to be you as it was just two short decades ago. There is no reason to hide who you are anymore. People who love you will always love you.

[Read: How to know if you are gay when you’re confused – All the signs you can’t ignore]

Follow your heart

If we know one thing in life, it is that when we do what is in our heart, follow our own moral compass, or do what we feel we have to, there is always going to be someone who isn’t going to like it. You, being honest about who you are and what you want, isn’t going to be easy for everyone. But, that is just as true of not just being gay, straight, or bisexual.

Everything from working as a musician instead of being a doctor, being an artist instead of putting on your three-piece suit to hit the office, disappoints anyone with other plans for you. So if you decide to come out of the closet, realize that there are people who aren’t going to like it, and that’s okay.

These are the people you don’t deserve to have in your life anyway. What matters is you followed your heart enough to show your true colors – and that takes a lot of courage. [Read: How to be comfortable in your own skin – 20 ways to love being you]

Why should you come out of the closet?

Most people in the LGBTQ+ community take a considerable amount of time before coming out of the closet. But what you need to know is that it is essential to come out of the closet as soon as you comfortably can because you can’t hide who you are forever.

Whether you’re gay, bisexual, or whatever sexual orientation you identify with, you can’t keep it a secret forever.

It’s going to be hard, but if your loved ones really love you, they should keep loving you after finding out you’re gay. This shouldn’t change anything.

By coming out of the closet, you’ll feel so much freedom to express who you are without any limitations.

Most importantly, you no longer have to hide the people you date and form relationships with, all because your loved ones don’t know. It’s hard, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. [Read: The perks and un-perks of coming out of the closet]

20 steps to ease yourself out of the closet

Perhaps the best way to come out of the closet is to keep one thing in mind. You might have known who you are and what you felt inside for years, maybe for as long as you can remember, but other people in your life might not have a clue.

When coming out of the closet, let people around you come to terms with the new you slowly and in their own time.

1. Choose the right time

There is a right and a wrong time to come out of the closet. There might be a day when you have an epiphany that life is too short. Timing is everything, so while it’s crucial to show yourself to the world, you also need to choose the right timing.

Waiting one more day, or even a week, to make sure you prepare for the fallout that could ensue, or to let the dust settle if things are out of control, is the best way to make it go over better and be less emotion-laden.

2. Choose the right situation

Some situations beg for you to come out of the closet and others beg for you not to. Don’t hijack someone else’s event by making it all about you. Sure, you want to make a statement, but doing it at the expense of someone else isn’t really fair.

If someone else is at the center of attention that day, don’t steal their spotlight and make it all about you. Examples of wrong situations are death, birthdays, weddings, family or work events, and the like. Otherwise, you could make a whole mess that could be avoided if you only choose the right situation.

3. Single out people instead of making a big announcement

Letting everyone know at once cuts down on the rumor mill and gets it all out there without the hassle. But, if there are people who you have an obligation to tell ahead of time to give them time to process, then do that. For instance, this could be your parents, siblings, or even your best friend. Take turns to share this with groups of your closest friends or family members, all in the span of a few days, before breaking the news publicly.

If there’s someone really important that you feel should know before everyone else, talk to them first. This is mostly because you respect the person, and want to explain it to them in the best way possible before they hear it from someone else. [Read: How to set boundaries: 10 crucial steps to feel more in control]

4. If someone is upset, it is on them

Remember if you come out of the closet, you are out and you won’t wish you kept it hidden any longer. If someone has a problem with your lifestyle, that’s on them. It’s no longer your responsibility to make you feel better about your choices.

So in coming out of the closet, don’t worry about the people who can’t accept who you are even after you explain yourself to them. That’s not your problem anymore. What matters is the people who do accept you and love you either way.

5. Be honest

There might be questions that come from your coming out of the closet. Don’t take offense, you have known about it for a while, those who didn’t know, just found out. Be open to answering any questions they might have and be honest with them.

If you are honest about how you feel, how you have always felt, when it started, and how long you have known, it eases any guilt others might harbor. [Read: How to not give a fuck – Your guide to less fucks and more laughs]

6. Speak from the heart

Telling people that you are gay is one of the hardest things in the world. But, if you speak from the heart, and speak directly to theirs, they quickly realize your happiness is what is important and see you have hidden who you are and that it isn’t fair. That brings acceptance more quickly.

So if you’re coming out of the closet, you don’t have to sugarcoat things, but simply speaking from the heart is enough. When your loved ones see how happy you are, they’ll also be happy for you.

7. Don’t be afraid

There is nothing worse than feeling like you can lose important people in your life if they don’t approve. If they can’t accept who you are, then they aren’t providing you with unconditional love. You are worthy of nothing less. Remember what we said above about it not being your problem.

If they can’t accept who you are, you don’t deserve to have them in your life. Even if it’s someone you thought was your person, maybe they’re not who you thought they were. [Read: Am I bisexual or lesbian? How to understand the differences yourself]

8. There is an order you should follow

Think about how the rumor mill is going to follow and go with the heavy hitters first. Often, we prolong the hard things longer, which when coming out of the closet, might come back to bite you. Tell those who will be the toughest the soonest. Think of it this way, once they know, the rest is just cake.

In the same way you should finish the hard tasks first in any challenging work, the same goes for coming out of the closet. So it’s always best to deal with your closed-minded and traditional family and friends first.

9. Answer questions if necessary instead of clamming up

There are going to be a lot of questions. Show people that it isn’t just a phase or something you are experimenting with by answering all the questions they have. Accept that people will ask you whether it’s just a phase or maybe you haven’t found the right person yet.

These are the people who can’t accept who you truly are. If you answer their questions without pause and with conviction, then they have an easier time accepting the truth. [Read: Biromantic vs. bisexual – How to understand who you really are]

10. Allow them time to process

Once you tell them, give them time to process. They might avoid you for a time, as they come to terms with what you shared. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are angry or not accepting, sometimes people just need time alone to process. You just dropped a bomb on them that they probably were not expecting.

So you need to allow your loved ones to process you coming out of the closet. Give them the space and time they need without getting in their face. Let them come to you.

11. Don’t apologize

Don’t ever apologize for being you or feeling the way you do. Being gay isn’t a life choice, it is who you are. You have NO reason to be sorry for being who you are. The minute you apologize, you’re not respecting or loving yourself enough. So after coming out of the closet, don’t ever apologize for who you are.

It’s first instinct to apologize when coming out, but don’t give in to this tendency. You were perfectly made the way that you are, and you owe NO ONE an apology. [Read: Am I a lesbian? 20 clues to know the truth without asking around]

12. If they are upset and choose not to respond, then you have to walk away

If someone can’t accept you, then you can’t continue to hide it for their benefit or go with their request to just keep it under wraps when in their presence.

Sure, out of respect, if your parents aren’t accepting of it, then you can try to be a bit discreet with your PDA *this goes for heterosexual couples out of respect too, so it’s not gay-specific, of course*. However, if they aren’t your family, it’s better not to continue a relationship or friendship with them.

13. Don’t let them find out through social media

If you have not told the people in your life about coming out of the closet, then don’t post things to social media that will shock or hurt them. They should be the first to know, and they likely don’t want to be the last! You don’t want to be coming out of the closet through social media, as that’s the worst place you want people to find out.

You want people to know on a personal level instead of finding out online. Also, it leaves a lot of room for judgment and criticism when you do it online *people can be really harsh sometimes*! [Read: Social media and relationships – The good, the bad, the ugly]

14. Explain that it has nothing to do with anyone but you

If you tell those who feel responsible that they haven’t done anything, you were born gay, it lets them off the hook and disallows them from feeling any remorse or guilt that they did something to make your life harder than they hoped for you. Before the people in your life start to feel any form of guilt, explain to them that this is who you are.

15. Don’t take their reaction to heart

You are likely going to get some reactions that aren’t exactly positive. Try to separate yourself from it. They are shocked, reacting without thinking, and aren’t trying to hurt your feelings. They are just trying to come to terms with you coming out of the closet.

Give people time to process and make sure to tell people most important to you first. In the end, those who love you, love you and want you to be happy. [Read: How to know if you’re gay – All the signs you can’t ignore]

16. Only do it if you’re ready

Nobody is forcing you to come out of the closet, especially if you’re not yet ready. So if you’re not prepared to reveal your identity to your loved ones, that’s alright. Everyone has a different timeline for coming out, and it just so happens that yours isn’t now.

Also, don’t feel pressured when people force you to do so. Kindly remind them that this is your decision and yours alone. They don’t get to weigh in on when you get to come out.

17. Take it gradually

You don’t have to come out in one instant right away. You can take it gradually first. Start by telling just one person you trust with your entire being and take it from there.

Take it one step at a time and once you’re more comfortable, you can start telling other people. But coming out of the closet doesn’t have to be done all at once. [Read: The 12 most common bisexual stereotypes we need to get rid of ASAP]

18. Practice the manner of how you’re going to tell them

It can be really nerve-wracking to tell others about your secret sexual identity, so it’s always best to come prepared. Practice how you plan to tell them, including your speech.

Again, it’s important not to undermine yourself or apologize for who you are – that shouldn’t be part of your speech. Admit that you’re gay and take it from there. Most importantly, stay true to who you are.

19. Don’t do it drunk

This should be a pretty obvious point, but doing it when you’ve downed some liquid courage is the last thing you should be doing. It’s not personal, and you might end up coming out of the closet when you’re far from ready.

Most often, you might even regret confessing your identity. Of course, we can’t always control our actions and behavior when drunk, so on the off chance that your trusted friends know, let them hold you accountable for this.

20. Everyone has different ways

Look, everyone’s way and timing of coming out of the closet is entirely different from yours. So don’t compare yourself to others.

The minute you’re ready, that’s the only time you should be revealing who you truly are. Don’t tell everyone you’re gay just because all your friends did. Trust your gut instinct.

[Read: List of sexualities: 15 gender orientations you need to know about]

So, how do you deal with coming out of the closet?

Coming out is never easy, but it’s vital so you can learn to embrace your real identity. The minute you do come out, you might feel bad rather than better because of the fear people will see you differently. Remember that people who love you will still continue to love you afterward.

When coming out of the closet, remember to stay true to yourself, have courage, and embrace your identity with everything you’ve got. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...