Choosing the right time to come out of the closet

16 Dec

Choosing the right time to come out of the closet is neither an easy choice nor one which should be taken lightly. It is something that a person should treasure as all too often people are outed forcibly against their will leaving them with little or no control over the situation. It is important to note there is a tremendous difference between the time you may “feel” like coming out and the the “right: time to come out.

Choosing the right time to come out for most people takes planning. Certainly many have simply chose to blurt it out and never suffered for it, but that is usually not the norm. A person needs to identify a few key factors to see if they are really ready to come out before taking the plunge. The first is obviously are you positive that you are gay? In young people this tends to be a more important question, elders generally have known and accepted their sexuality for quite awhile. With a youth however, especially a young teen there are so many changes taking place with puberty and self discovery that what seems true one week may seem ludicrous another. Granted, most gay people have known they were gay since they could understand the concept, but certainly not all do, and some suppress their emotions regarding either same sex or heterosexual attraction so effectively that they can actually convince them self that feelings contrary to what they honestly feel are valid.

The second thing is to take stock of your family and circle of friends. Are they likely to be accepting of this revelation? Sometimes this is very clear cut one way or the other, in many cases it’s up in the air. What works as a good general rule of thumb for many is running a quick mental checklist of questions akin to the following:

Can you support yourself if you are forced to leave home?

Is it more than slightly possible that you will be prone to physical violence due to coming out where you currently live?

Will coming out negatively impact your career or situation at school? If you answered yes to this, are you ready for a legal battle or starting over somewhere else?

If worst comes to worst, do you have some form of dependable support system in place to help you?

While this may seem unnecessary to many people each is a valid concern. Coming out can have some negative baggage and you have to be prepared to deal with that before it may arrive. With that said, there is a second situation which can supersede those concerns which is you simply cannot bear being in the closet any longer. If you reach a point where the mental strain has reached its limit and you are having suicidal thoughts, thoughts of self-harming, major recurring depression, or if it has reached the point it is actually making you physically ill, then it is time to come out. If being closeted is causing you misery then you simply have to in order to maintain health.

One of the big things we all share about choosing a time to come out is we think we have the perfect plan in place. There is no perfection in this situation. You just have to be honest with yourself about what the potential impact will be, good and bad, and then let the time find you. You cannot force it. The best time to come out is the time that you feel comfortable and safe and just let it happen. It need not be a dramatic production or have everyone you know present. All coming out has to be is you first telling yourself out loud that you are gay, and then telling someone else when it feels right.

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