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Pros/Cons of Coming Out Younger/Older

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by BiGemini87, Oct 23, 2019.

  1. BiGemini87

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    Hello, everyone!

    So I thought it would be interesting to start a discussion regarding coming out: What challenges do you feel are exclusive to those who came out in their younger years (teens, pre-puberty, etc.) and conversely, what challenges do you think are exclusive to those who are LGBTQ+ later in life? Likewise, what are some of the positives associated with coming out earlier vs. the positives of coming out later?

    Feel free to answer however much or however little you want to. I'll start.

    Personally, I feel like the downside of coming out later was a lack of discomfort and understanding of myself; that maybe if I'd realized it sooner, I could have become more comfortable in my own skin and been more confident all around. On the upside, I feel like coming out when I did happened precisely when it needed to, and that it has helped me feel more myself at a time in my life when I need it most. I also feel like I've been fortunate to jump over some of the hardships and confusion that I might have suffered had I acknowledged it early on.
     
  2. artsy gays

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    As a teenager, I find my number one problem that may be exclusive to younger people is that I've had people tell me that I'm 'too young to know' or that I 'can't be sure I'm only 14' it may be easier for those coming out as gay...okay easier is by far the wrong word but explaining the difference between romantic attraction, sexual attraction and gender to my mom has been quite the task. (I currently identify as Biromantic Asexual for context) So if you're maybe 30 and come out as asexual, people might go 'oh okay they've tried it they've had 30 years to realize they aren't sexually attracted to others people' but I'm young and currently identify with asexuality but my mom doesn't think that's true. I don't know I think the age thing is very prominent to both ends of the age spectrum. 'You're too young/old' can be one of the most disheartening things to hear from a loved one. With younger people, there could be the issue of school, word getting around, friends lost, mean things said and as much as I'm sure that happens to older folks too, at home, in the workplace, wherever it may be, but I think it hurts younger people the most. You could lose friends because they are afraid of 'you developing feelings for them' or something. Those would be the two biggest things I'd think of as a queer teen but then again, I've only been out to (some) people for a few months at most. A few weeks for my parents. There will be more younger people specific issues to arise in future I'm sure.
     
    #2 artsy gays, Oct 23, 2019
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  3. Aussie792

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    I think the difficulty with your situation is that coming out necessarily happens after you've realised your sexuality. If that realisation in your own mind takes a while to come about, you didn't really have the option to come out earlier.

    Coming out early can help ease that process by combining it with the generalised turmoil of personality formation in your teens, as well as giving you a bit of a head start in forming relationships. But you're describing a situation that doesn't really allow for choice.

    It's fairly common for young people's sexuality to be doubted when coming out. But I would be cautious too early into someone's teens to accept asexuality as a fixed trait, mainly because puberty is a complex process in which sexual attraction can develop later for some than for others.

    That isn't to say the right approach is to say 'you've got to try first', because that creates pressure that can be unhealthy and unpleasant. What I am saying is that age is definitely relevant insofar as the distinction between prepubescent asexuality (in the sense of being pre-sexual), as opposed to adult asexuality (having developed into full adulthood without sexual attraction), is necessarily a function of age.
     
    #3 Aussie792, Oct 23, 2019
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  4. Devil Dave

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    One advantage I can think of for coming out at a young age is that you get to experience dating and romance in your teenage years. When I was at school I heared all the other boys my age talking about the girls they were meeting up with like it was the most natural thing in the whole world for teenagers to do, and of course there are countless movies and TV shows and pop songs about teens falling in love and having their first kiss, and all of that seemed so alien to me. I wasn't dating girls in my teen years, because obviously I wasn't interested in girls, and I was not ready to come out at that time, even if I wanted to, I didn't know any "out" guys my own age. So I missed out on young love and romance and all the crazy hormones and having my heart broken on my first break up. I kept all of my interests in sex and romance to myself until the age of 20, and even then, it was a long time before I finally took dating seriously.

    And I've always got the impression that a lot of gay men in their 30s and 40s and older act like adolescent teenagers when they're out getting drunk, because they also missed out on all of that stuff in their younger years while their straight peers were screwing around. So they are making up for it now that they are out of the closet. The "normal" kids did not need to hide their sexuality like it was a dirty little secret, they got to hold hands in public and discuss their first sexual experiences and relationship issues with their friends. We ended up being late bloomers. Hopefully, coming out at a younger age means you don't have to miss out the way some of us did.
     
  5. 0to21

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    This is true. Instead of being a teenager and progressing further through the natural course of development, I literally started winding backwards. I also don't understand how dating and relationships seemed to so quickly and easily take up such a substantial chunk of everyone's lives. For me, after everything, if someone told me to go out and 'date' it would feel synonymous with being expected to figure out how to travel to an alternate universe, and then intentionally electrocute myself over and over - so, terrifying and impossible anyway.
     
    #5 0to21, Oct 23, 2019
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  6. BiGemini87

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    Fixed my typo. ^^;

    @Aussie792 You make a good point; difficult to come out when you haven't fully realized your sexuality. There were certainly times I questioned it early on, however, and I'm given to wonder if heteronormativity prevented me not just from realizing it sooner, but perhaps from acknowledging what I might have already known, deep down.

    @Artsy No doubt that is plenty frustrating. :frowning2: One of my online friends is Ace and in her early 20s, and she still deals with the same kinds of questioning you have. There seems to be a lot of stigma against Asexuals and Aromantics, even within the community--and that's a shame. Whatever path you take, I hope people start taking you seriously as time passes.

    @Devil Dave and @0to21 I definitely can't speak from the dating perspective (as I'm married) but I can definitely attest to feeling like a bit of a teenager shortly after acknowledging my sexuality. I found myself noticing women a lot more, in a way I hadn't really allowed myself too before.
     
  7. artsy gays

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    hmm yes you are right, I really view sexuality as something that is fluid so I figure, I currently identify as asexual while most others are developing sexual attraction around me, however further down the line I may not identify that way so I will adjust my labels accordingly to best suit how I identify. Labels to me are simply something I use to help me describe my feelings and attraction to others, I don't really care for them honestly but yes I understand what you are saying:disappointed_relieved::smiley:
     
  8. artsy gays

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    thank you and I'm sorry she has to go through that it doesn't feel great
     
  9. JaymzR1968

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    Hi! Great topic and will surely get the self-evaluation tendencies going at full speed.

    I honestly find this question difficult to answer - or at least difficult to articulate my “answer”. I hope that, and what follows below, makes sense...

    First, as some on this site may have already read my story of how and when I came to understand and accept my sexuality (I won’t bore you with the mini-novel length biography again), I had absolutely ZERO idea that I was (or more accurately “am”) gay at any point in my life until the ripe old age of 34. Once I did fully accept and embrace the real me, I did go through some of the challenges that many have described they encountered and overcame earlier in life, BUT on the plus side - being in my mid-thirties at the time I feel I had more life experiences and decades of knowledge and emotional “control” thus allowing me to manage these challenges, etc. much better than I know I would have been able to at say 15-18 years old. Definite check in the PRO column.

    Sure, there are some things (sexual experiences, relationships, and so on) that I would have had in my life a long time ago (and maybe got some of the adventures and exploring out of my system back then) sort of forcing me to play a little “catch up” in certain areas. So, that is leaning more towards the CON side of the discussion.

    There was no way I could have come out any sooner than I did, at the age I did, since I truly didn’t know...never felt any attraction or desire to be with a man at any point in my life up until then. But once I did “evolve” into the person I am today and embrace every little thing that makes me “ME” and understood that everything I’ve done and gone through leading up to that point directly contributed to who I am and led me to that very moment in time. Any other path, or event/experience that I didn’t encounter would have made me a different person - a completely different life. So absolutely no regrets whatsoever.

    So taking the logic out of it, and putting aside the more developed emotional maturity and ability to process/handle difficult situations life throws at you , and stop trying to second guess your choices and desperately attempt to analyze every part of your life to try and find the link and place it in a neat and tidy little box - I honestly do feel at whatever age a person realizes and/or accepts who he/she are on a sexual level, and “comes out” to those they choose to, is EXACTLY THE TIME AND PLACE IN THEIR LIVES THAT IT WAS MEANT TO HAPPEN.

    I am happy with who I am and where I am in my life today, and I can’t imagine being a different person. It all happens organically, everything in our lives is fluid (as another poster stated) and in constant flux...and that’s what makes us Human, driven by our hearts as well as our minds. (Otherwise we’d be machines and we’d simply be programmed to be one thing or another at a preprogrammed spot in what would be a very boring existence).
    Peace ✌ James
     
  10. musicteach

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    A lot of teenagers struggle with the what if's about their parents. Home life situations aren't great etc. And I know it's a real struggle because I see it in my students all the time. (I have over 400 students, statistically some of them are going to be lgbt).
     
  11. BiGemini87

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    @JaymzR1968 Thank you for such an in-depth answer! I think you've touched on the ups and downs quite well, and I agree: we come out when the time is right, however young or old we are at the time. It's comforting to know that whole "catch up" thing is pretty universal, as well.

    @musicteach Sad, but true. Out of 400 students, I imagine more than a few dozen don't have the greatest home life. Speaking from personal experience, I know how good kids can be at hiding what's going on behind closed doors... I can't imagine coming out in that kind of environment. :frowning2:
     
  12. musicteach

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    1 in 9 is the statistic that you're looking for. 11.1% of students in our area fall into the category of being potentially at risk due to traumatic childhoods. 1 in 7 or 14.3% of our student population at my school alone identify as being something other than straight and hetero. 1 in 81 or 1.2% identify as being "out". 1 in 4 or 25% of all students surveyed in the district report being bullied over their sexuality or gender identity — regardless of if they actually are anything other straight and cis.

    But you want to know the one that will stop your heart?

    1 in 1.4 or 71.4% of all students surveyed in the district have considered suicide. 1 in 13 (7.7%) have a plan or have attempted.

    But let's go back to the band — we're marching 436 students this year (we're a huge regional high school with a huge district/feeder program).
    11.1% at risk: 48
    14.3% not straight/cis: 62
    1.2% out: 5
    25% bullied over sexuality/gender identity: 109
    71.4% considered suicide: 311
    7.7% of 311 that have attempted have a plan: 23
     
  13. 0to21

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    What a positive outlook :blush: Hopefully this can play out for others
     
  14. Chizu

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    I think it really depends on everyone's situation. If everyone around you, or at least everyone you care about, is okay with it, then coming out early makes sense. If you come from a family that would disown you for coming out, and kick you out on the streets if you told them, then you should maybe come out later when you can support yourself. But saying you can support yourself if your family disowns you doesn't sound like a pro of coming out late, just a sad fact of life.
    It can take time to figure out what you are, and then accept it when you do. A lot of people want a definitive answer. Even if they don't want you to be lgbt, they want you to either lie and say you're straight, or at least say you're sure you're something so they can tell you you're wrong and they're right. You can't really come out as confused, questioning, or unsure. If you do, people tell you what they think you are or what they want you to be, rather than letting you figure out the true you.
    When you do come out to people, it can sometimes take time for them to accept you. Not only that, but it can take time for them to accept it as a fact. My mom, for example, went through the entire Kübler-Ross five stages of grief over trying to comprehend the fact that I was gay. I didn't tell her until I was 19, which I thought was late at the time. She immediately denied it, and said it was hormones. It really upset me, because I had spent years falsely thinking my gayness was all just part of some state of temporary confusion. It also kind of weirded me out, because 19 didn't sound like an age to be "hormonally confused." I mean, I get that 19 is still the teens, but just how old do I have to be for it to not be hormones?
    Staying closeted tends to be maddening, no matter what. I'm terrified when I'm surrounded by homophobic people who rant and ramble about gay people around me because they assume I'm straight, and would physically attack me if they knew I was gay. I'm sad and disappointed when people I'd typically consider my superior, like elder family members, or friendly older senior coworkers, ramble about gay people. And I'm annoyed when people suspect I'm gay, and want me to continue hiding it. For some reason, I hate that the most. It's like, not only do I have to walk on eggshells, but they have to walk on eggshells around me. Like, they're deliberately choosing to make their own interactions with me more complicated, just to make my life more complicated.
     
    #14 Chizu, Nov 5, 2019
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  15. justme32

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    So...this is really specific to me. I feel like when I was younger, saying I was bi was just being stupid and having no idea what I was talking about. I liked a girl and thought about kissing her a few times. I made out with a different girl who I knew I didn't like and (suprise surprise) didn't like kissing her, so I decided that having distinct and obvious likes and dislikes between females made me bi. Then I wrote about some fantasies as if they'd actually happened in a diary which was fun and a little bit of shock value for me to entertain myself with...never shared it with anyone else. Unfortunately, because of how my mom called me out on it in a really toxic and unloving and unguided way (which basically was the result of her reading my diary- something she should have never done), I developed a ton of shame around even thinking I had permission to question myself or my sexuality or to experiment at all. I felt ashamed and like a liar for years and felt like I needed to date the first girl who liked me to prove that I wasn't lying to myself...and once again, this didn't help my own complex because I DIDN'T ACTUALLY LIKE HER (DUH). So I assumed tons of shitty things about myself- like, that I was liar making the whole thing up, doing it for shock value, etc... etc... but never wanted to identify as straight because it felt like I was limiting my options that way. So I was just in a state of perpetual confusion, stuffing down all this shame, and thinking that I was a terrible person and that everyone would hate me if they knew the truth. I think that's the harm in coming out too young, before you're even sure what your own motives might be and you're too much at the whims of other peoples' perspectives.

    Now, come to realize years later that I wasn't some dirty, horrible liar. I was just misguided. And now I fantasize about women constantly in my marriage and think I would like to try being with one but realize I will probably never get the chance...and that I've been avoiding becoming friends with certain types of women in order to avoid realizing that I'm attracted to them and/or maybe even avoid rejection. Now that I'm starting to realize that, the older me feels way more like, "hell yes! hey, girl, hey!"(hahaha) but now I'm dealing with accepting myself and whether or not I will finally allow myself to fully embrace the bisexual label or allow the shame of my younger years to swallow me whole and resign to identifying as straight. And all the while it feels like the dumbest argument in the world to be having because I'm happily married so who cares, anyway...minus the fact that I will die some day and it would be fun to have sex with a woman before I die and experience that intimacy with someone of my same gender, which is something I sometimes find myself craving for whatever reason. So that's what I can offer as insight. I hope that's helpful to some.
     
  16. Broccoli

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    As someone who only realised they were gay in their late twenties, I'm sad that I missed out on normal teenage experiences of experimenting, dating and finding out about yourself and relationships, and spent my university years thinking I was weird or broken in some way - I feel like I've got a lot of catching up to do now. On the other hand, I live on my own and am financially independent and living in a major city so have the freedom to make my own choices going forward without having to worry about what my parents or the kids I happen to be stuck in a small-town school with think. On balance I would have chosen to know earlier though.
     
  17. bubblesh204

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    I think it depends on where you live. My girlfriend grew up in a more suburban area where most people didn't have an issue with it and she had more of a dating life while she was in middle/high school. For her, coming out wasn't an issue and it seems like people were pretty accepting. I, on the other hand, was outed during my freshman year of high school and didn't really have a relationship until my senior year. The youth group I went to had a sermon on why homosexuality is wrong the day after I was outed and I had to quit the track team because the bullying was so bad.

    I'm glad I came out to my friends when I did because it removed a lot of the awkwardness around school dances and they were there to support me while the whole getting outed thing was happening. I feel like I missed out on a lot of the normal teenage experiences despite realizing I was gay in middle school. However, I think that was just the area I grew up in because I was one of the first lesbians to come out in my school in years.