October 11 was National Coming Out Day, but the fear of being judged and ultimately rejected is real, and sometimes, it may seem easier to be who others want you to be, rather than honoring what is true for you. But an inauthentic life can breed loneliness, resentment, and depression. Guest contributor Maq Elé, a spiritual life coach and member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, is comin’ through with what you need to come out on your terms.
On 100, the first step to coming out to your family and friends is to fully accept yourself. Still unsure about your sexuality? Allow yourself time to gain clarity before sharing your status with others. This is a vital step in your coming out journey because the reactions of others, particularly if they are not so loving, can derail you from your truth. Waiting until you’re sure about how you identify decreases the likelihood that you’ll give in to the pressures of others.
Get support from someone you trust.
Seek assistance from someone like a school or community counselor — they are legally required to maintain confidentiality. The counselor can also support you in role-playing how you’d tell a family member or friend. If you are unsure and are questioning your sexuality, you may find it helpful to speak with a counselor with the intention of gaining clarity; the counselor’s job is to create a safe environment for you to talk out your thoughts and feelings. If you’re not 100% sure if the counselor is LGBTQ+-friendly, contact your local LGBTQ+ organization and request a referral.
Share Your Truth.
To prepare for the moment you’ll speak with your friends and fam, practice what you’ll say in front of a mirror. You may even decide to come out by writing a letter to your loved ones, rather than having a face-to-face sit-down. And remember: You are not responsible for someone else’s feelings around the sharing of your truth. Your family may have had a fantasy of what your life would look like, even before you were born, and hearing your reality is different from that may be tough for them. They may need some time to grieve the life they’d envisioned, so give them the space to do so.
For real — it does get better.
Know this: The nerves and anxiety you may be feeling right now about how your coming out will go down, will not always feel this way. As you grow older, you will become more and more comfortable with who you are and so will others in your life. Even if some of your friends and family are not initially happy with how you identify, they may come around with time. At the end of the day, what everyone who loves you wants, is for you to be happy — and sometimes it takes a while for them to remember that.
This article originally appeared in Sesi’s Fall 2019 issue. Subscribe here to get the current issue, on sale now.