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Reflecting on Coming Out

Discussion in 'Coming Out Advice' started by Spartan 117, Jan 9, 2021.

  1. Spartan 117

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    Hello everyone,

    This month, we're starting a discussion about people's experience coming out. Primarily, EC has always been a community focused on helping people with coming out (though we discuss all sort of other LGBT+ issues too). In 2021, I'm sure there will be many new members joining our website seeking advice this exact topic. We're inviting those who have already come out to share their experiences.

    In particular,
    - Is there any advice you would have given yourself in hindsight?
    - How would you describe your feelings before, during, and after coming out?

    I don't remember coming out to my friends particularly well - I can't remember it being entirely negative or positive. I do, however, remember coming out to my family. On the whole, it was a very negative experience - but this wasn't unexpected, having already known their religious beliefs. I was fortunate in that I had mentally prepared myself for the worst, and had the support of some of my friends.

    What I didn't expect was that my relationship with my parents would actually improve afterwards, and that it would allow me to at least live more honestly and less resentful of having to keep that side of my life hidden. While my family still aren't anything near supportive, I think in time, we did come to an understanding I didn't think was possible beforehand.

    Looking back, what advice or perspectives would you give your former self before coming out?
     
  2. BradThePug

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    The biggest advice that I would give myself is to not rush coming out. I accidentally came out to my mom by leaving my school email open and I had just sent an email to a professor asking them to call me by my new name. I came out to a lot of my friends and family on facebook when I changed my name. I then had to make a post because my mom was having serious health issues. People were a little confused when they saw my new name. I also came out as a lot of things. First as a bi female, then a gay female, then non-binary, then trans male, and finally settled on being transmasculine. Each time before I came out I was pretty nervous. I knew my family would be accepting. Growing up, we went to various diverse events and my parents always said they would support me no matter what. I was worried about some friends, but they came around when they saw how much more comfortable with myself. After I came out, I felt a sense of relief because I did not have to live as somebody that I am not.
     
  3. QuietPeace

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    That I should remember Maya Angelou's advice "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time"

    Give everyone one and only one chance, if they invalidate or do not accept you close the chapter on them, permanently. The two main applications to this would be coming out to anyone, if they cannot accept who you are then walk away (main application here is family my life would be so much better had I walked away rather than trying to satisfy my mother specifically) and relationships if someone demonstrates cluster B characteristics end it with them.

    You know who you are, find people who accept you for who you are and to hell with everyone else.

    (if I could really go back and advise myself I would also talk about things that were not specific to my orientation and identity also but I don't think that you are looking for those things here)

    Before I was terrified about coming out to people (and I still feel fear about revealing my birth assignment but about my orientation I have no problems)

    During/After - it is fantastic to live as my true self, I only wish that I had stuck to it the first time rather than trying to do what society and my family demanded of me.
     
  4. DecentOne

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    I’m sorry I didn’t have a letter to hand my wife, for her further reflection on what I was saying. She is the only person who had trouble with my coming out, and as clear as I tried to be in my conversation with her (based on practice with my therapist), it got muddled in her memory and even wiped from her memory. A letter would have been something she could go back to.

    I was concerned before I came out. Not about people’s reactions, just about the way I picked the moment and expressed my new-found orientation. I wanted to get that right, to convey my love and my commitment to my marriage, for instance. I was also eager, and felt it would be authentic and freeing to be able to say that I had shifted to being bisexual. I was sad and disappointed when my wife didn’t take it well. Frustrated even. All others I came out to were completely supportive (although surprised), and as that happened I felt a bit vindicated, as I’d reassured my wife that it would go well (she even thought our adult children, who we raised to be complete LGBTQ allies, would be devastated to learn their father was not straight).

    Things can get better. I revealed myself to my wife because I love her and consider it wrong to hide things from her. If I had walked away from our marriage because that first reaction (and months of her subsequent reactions) went badly, I would have missed my life partner evolving and coming to acceptance and support. We have a long history, and a deep love through all we’ve been through in life. It is still rocky sometimes, almost three years later, but she wishes I wouldn’t hold her first responses against her, and see her for all the progress she has made (and is still).
     
  5. QuietPeace

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    @DecentOne I know that the narrative is "it gets better", and maybe it does for some but it does not for everyone. For me giving people chances only allowed them to deliberately harm me.
     
  6. chicodeoro

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    Because of Covid coming out is becoming a looong drawn process for me. I'm out to 20 friends so far. Over the course of the next 24 months I want to complete the process. The last person to hear will be my stepson. By that time he'll be 16 and hopefully will be much better able to cope than he is now. (His mother - my partner - died last year and so I don't want to inflict this on him just yet..)

    The advice I'd give is don't be afraid. Before you come out you're presenting an edited version of yourself to your friends. When you reveal the truth and people embrace that truth (which, so far, they all have) the feeling is just incredible.

    The only problem I have had is one friend who said that they felt sad because they were losing **** (my old male name). I can understand this and indeed said as much. The only thing I could do was reassure her that I'm still the same person, just with a different name and (in the short term, at least) a bit girlier.

    I know your experience has been different, QP, but I don't agree with this. I think, quite often, it can be a complete shock for people. Some just need time to come round to the idea, especially if you're coming out as a different gender, and what may be interpreted as rejection or invalidation is merely a feeling of loss for the person (or image) they once knew. Change is difficult to cope with sometimes, so I do understand.

    Beth
     
  7. HM03

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    Honestly, coming out is still scary for me and I still hate it. But it definitely does get easier – Not nearly as earth shatteringly scary as the very first time.

    Is there any advice you would have given yourself in hindsight?
    Try to think things through logically and build a support network. It is so easy to let emotions, especially fear and anxiety to take over. Everybody that has ever met my dad has a been surprised how big of a fear it was considering how nonchalant he is. It was extremely helpful for me (for later coming outs) to have people to help put things into perspective and ground me in logic since they didn’t have that fear to paralyze them

    How would you describe your feelings before, during, and after coming out?
    The first time, started getting really anxious about it and could literally feel my blood pressure skyrocketing lol. Every time it has been a relief for me post come out. I can literally feel my body relax. Even times where it’s just been an “oh”, its always felt like such a huge relief.
     
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  8. Aspen

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    The biggest piece of advice I'd have given myself is: You don't have to remember which of your friends know and which don't if you just tell all of them. It's been going on for so long that I still can't remember if I've actually come out to some of my long-distance friends and I'm afraid to ask. There also would've been a whole lot less anxiety and secrets if I'd told them earlier.

    Before coming out to my family, I was terrified. I come from a heavily conservative, Catholic, homophobic family and so I definitely expected to never speak to them again. I had to wait so long that my wife and I were engaged before I even told them we were dating. I felt weirdly calm when I told my mom because it was kind of a desperate moment. I'd gone to visit to pick up some of my stuff because I'd just moved in with my now-wife and my mom had just told me that she might have cancer (she didn't, thank God). She, and the entire rest of my family, have been surprisingly accepting. It feels so freeing to not have to hide anymore, although I still minimize contact with that side of the family because--accepting or not--they're still voting homophobic.
     
  9. quebec

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    I wish I hadn't waited in pain for so many years.
    .....David :gay_pride_flag: