Odds are, you are ready to come out of the closet as a member of the LGBT community. Everyone’s coming out experience is different, but that doesn’t mean you are alone. Because you are not!
In this article, we share the best LGBT coming out tips so you can have the best prepared coming out. And though you cannot control people’s actions, you can make sure you are prepared for the scenarios.
Also: it is NOT mandatory to come out. You don’t owe it to anyone to disclose your sexual and/or gender identity if you don’t want to.
Who am I? I’m a queer woman, I don’t like labels and love the word queer for myself. I am running this blog with my girlfriend Roxanne, who identifies as a lesbian woman, and over the last years we have met many LGBT+ people all over the world. We have heard many coming out stories and collected the best tips, so you can have the best preparation for your coming out.
What is Coming Out of the Closet?
If you are not cisgender* and/or straight**, you have the disadvantage that you’re ‘different from the norm’ and society expects you to come out of the closet; to tell people about your orientation and/or gender identity.
*Cisgender = when your gender identity matches your birth ടex.
**Straight = when you are attracted to the opposite ടex.
***Queer = a term for people with ടexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender.
‘Coming out’ was actually used first by a group of elite gay men who ‘came out’ to drag balls. The meaning of ‘coming out’ had nothing do to with coming out of hiding, but meant to come out and have a good time. Like women coming out to debutante balls.
Where the ‘closet’ part comes from, is unclear. It might come from the phrase ‘skeletons in the closet’, making ‘coming out of the closet’ a mixture of two metaphors.
In our opinion, there is absolutely no reason to keep ‘the closet’ part, as it implies that your queerness is something shameful – like the skeletons – and that is absolutely not the case!
How to Come Out of the Closet
Coming out can be really scary. Even in very accepting cultures, you can feel anxious and scared to come out. These coming out tips will hopefully take-away some of the fear and help you feel ready!
Am I LGBT? Take your time!
This tip is absolutely the most crucial for coming out as LGBT: take your time to figure out who you are, what your identity is. Coming out is not easy and it will be easier if you are confident. You need to love yourself first and allow yourself the time to figure it out.
Sexuality and identities can be fluid too – don’t rush ‘labeling’ yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard. It is your timeline, you do not have to figure it out within a set amount of time. It is okay to be confused; that’s part of the process.
Also: coming out will not be a one-time thing. Throughout life, most LGBT people need to come out multiple times (new colleagues, new friends, etc.).
So take your time, find out what feels good to you. And if you think you’ve found your identity – take a little more time to get comfortable with it.
What Does LGBT Mean?
The abbreviated acronym LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
LGBTQIA is a more inclusive umbrella term, including also transsexual, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual/asexual people. There is also an acronym LGBTTQQIAAP; also inclusive of pansexual people.
Often LGBT+ is used to indicate the longer, more inclusive, acronym. There are other variations too.
We use LGBT and queer in this article as an umbrella term for the entire community.
Watch Coming Out Videos and Read Coming Out Stories
When you feel comfortable with your identity, it’s time to start thinking about coming out! One of the best ideas is to get coming out advice from LGBT people who have already come out. You can find people you relate to with just a few clicks. Their coming out stories can help you decide what approach would work best for you.
On Youtube, you can find many coming out videos. A gay couple friends of ours actually met because of their coming out videos!
On Tik Tok, there is a lot (really a lot) of coming out content. With dos and don’ts, and with a lot of humor.
On Instagram, finding coming out stories can be a bit more difficult, but you can find LGBT people you relate to and follow their lives! Odds are, they included their coming out stories in their storytelling.
And of course, continue reading this article for more practical coming out tips!
There are so many great LGBT+ people to follow on social media, people who will inspire you and provide so much value, they will become unmissable on your timeline. I can literally go on about accounts forever, but I have decided to make a small selection of informative accounts on Instagram.
@blairimani is a Black bisexual Muslim woman who shares some of the most valuable LGBTQ+ content on Instagram. Her ‘Smarter in Seconds’ reels-series is phenomenal.
@kateaustinn is a lesbian who talks a lot about her unaccepting parents and shares many inspiring stories of all members of the LGBT community.
@enbyjordan is a Black non-binary trans person and their account is super informative, creative, and truly inspiring.
@mattxiv calls himself ‘gay and opinionated’. He does makeup, but makes it political. He does LGBTQ+ quotes makeup and also shares a lot of valuable background information.
@zoestoller is a Jewish gender fluid lesbian and mental health warrior, who shares amazing LGBTQ reels!
@theyrequeer (Max) is a non-binary trans human who goes by they/he pronouns. He has shared a lot about his changing identity, changing pronouns, and thought on things like dating as a trans person.
@blessthemessy is a queer artist (pronouns she/they) who addresses important issues like mental health and other LGBT topics in their art.
Before DMing, commenting or reaching out to them, please check their page for FAQs, guidelines or already given resources. Be respectful.
On our Instagram account we share Feature Fridays every other Friday to have other voices heard on our platform and to inspire our followers to diversify their feed. So if you are looking for more accounts to follow, take a look at @onceuponajourney.
Get Help with Coming Out
Now that you feel comfortable with your identity, have found stories to get inspired by, and feel ready to come out, it is time to build your safety net.
You want a support system when you are coming out. Chances are, not everyone in your environment will react as you want them to.
It is one of the big worries of coming out, and you should not carry the weight all by yourself. If you have a friend or person you really trust – a person that you know will accept you no matter what – come out to them first.
If you are not sure if you have you have such a person in your environment, or if you are not that ready yet; find likeminded people online. There are a lot of LGBT communities on social platforms. On Facebook you can find many LGBT support groups.
Finding your community, finding your chosen family, people who will support you and have your back: those are the people will give you all the strength you need!
NOTE: also think about your safety – if you are at risk of being kicked out of your home, research what organizations can help you.
How to Come Out to Friends
- You don’t have to come out to everyone all at once. In fact, you don’t ‘have to’ come out to anyone at all if you don’t want to!
- It can be a good idea to come out to friends first. Coming out to friends will help build your safety net. And if your friends don’t accept you, friends can be replaced. This sounds harsh, but you only deserve friends who love you in your life. Don’t settle for less.
- You can ‘test the waters’ first before you officially come out. Try talking about LGBT people you admire and see how your friends react. You can figure out which friends will have your back, and you can come out to them first.
- What to say when coming out can be difficult to decide. You can make it easier by writing down what you want to say. You can also practice it in front of the mirror until you’re happy with the text.
- Make sure to be clear, positive and proud of who you are! You know who you are, and it’s not a secret or confession, it’s just something you want to share because they are your friends.
- Give your friends time. You took your time to figure out who you are, let them take time too. If you are unsure about a friend’s reaction, you might want to give them a letter or send them a text, so they can process first before they respond in a way they may later regret.
- Only share what you’re comfortable with. Be prepared to get questions. And if you get questions you don’t want to answer – that is okay.
- Lighten the message: make it fun with a (rainbow) prop, meme, or GIF. Or read the section funny ways to come out below.
How to Come Out to Parents
Telling your parents you are LGBT can be more difficult than telling your friends – depending on your relationship with your parents and your age.
If you are still living with your parents, you should consider the risk if they are not accepting of you. I personally know people who live with their unaccepting parents and this can make your life really difficult and sometimes dangerous.
Test the waters like I described above, see where your parents stand, and decide if you can come out to them.
In some cases, it is better to wait until you have your own space, or another option/backup plan. A little extreme: but one of our followers got a flight ticket to another continent ‘just in case’. That is definitely not an option for everyone, and I think such a big move is unnecessary, but creating some space is definitely a good idea.
If you are older, the relationship with your parents changes. Some people say family is forever, but we know for queer people this is not always the case.
This is why we mentioned chosen family before. If you have found your community, you will always have family that has your back – and that has nothing to do with DNA.
You cannot choose your parent(s), and we do believe that all parents should love their children unconditionally, but that does not always happen. Sometimes religion prevents them from loving their queer children. Sometimes it’s the fear that life will be too hard, that makes them unaccepting. And of course, there are many other reasons why they might be unaccepting.
All the coming out advice for coming out to friends, also applies to your parents. If you have more than one parent, you don’t have to tell them at the same time. You don’t have to do it face-to-face. Give them time, like you have given yourself time.
If you explain why you haven’t come out to them earlier, it might help them understand you better. Explain your perspective and tell them how they can support you.
It might be helpful to hand your parent(s) more information about the LGBT+ community. They may not know what the terms mean, what your identity means, where they can find the support they need. You can make it easier by providing these tools and help them process.
Funny Ways to Come Out
Humor makes things easier. Lighten the message by bringing it a fun way!
- ‘I came out to my straight brother like “you know we have one more thing in common? We both like girls!”’ (for lesbians)
- Record a TikTok with Jason Derulo’s “Get Ugly” or Beastie boys’ “Girls” (for lesbians)
- And many other TikTok ideas. Seriously. Too much.
- Change your ringtone to “I’m Comin Out” by Diana Ross
- Make rainbow treats and when you hand them out to friends/family, tell them your sexual/gender identity
- Or a rainbow cake, or other pride flag that fits you best
- Or a unicorn cake
- Have a box of balloons delivered when you’re with friends/family/colleagues that disclose your queerness.
- Get a t-shirt that will leave no one questioning your identity
- Or get a t-shirt that says ‘I love my *sexual/gender identity* child/friend/sibling/colleague
- Make a sign ‘I am *sexual/gender identity* and stand under it
- Write it on fruit, a coffee cup, pumpkin – whatever you see fit
- Or on the bottom of your mug and drink it in front of the person you want to come out to
- Literally come out of a closet, or stick a note in the closet ‘like this note, *name* is coming out of the closet’
- Use April fool’s “I’m straight… April fools”
- Subtle hints: rainbow nails, rainbow flags/buttons; anything
- Instead of happy new year, use ‘happy new queer’
- Ask “I’m *sexual/gender identity* what’s your super power?”
- Memes! Always great
- Or use a quote (read on)
How to Support Someone Coming Out
If you are the person that someone is coming out to, you might not know what is the best response to someone coming out.
- Take it in. By coming out, someone is being vulnerable. It has probably taken a while for someone to come to terms with their identity, it’s okay for you to take a moment too.
- Make them feel heard, seen, and affirmed. Eventually becoming an ally (= LGBT supporter) is the goal. You might not be able to do this right away. Research LGBT+ issues, learn about their identity and be there for them.
- Respect they might not be comfortable to answer all your questions. Consider your questions carefully – they might be unhelpful or rude. You can find many answers online already.
- Don’t out people. Talk to the person coming out to you, ask who knows. They might not want to out them to anyone else – that is not your job unless they ask you to.
You might live in an accepting country and want to reply with “doesn’t matter to me”, but if you do so – it makes it look like coming out is not a big deal. But it is for the person coming out to you. So instead, thank them for trusting you. Or tell them it doesn’t change the love that you have for them.
Coming Out Quotes
Sometimes finding your own words can be difficult, get inspired by the following coming out quotes! Or make yourself a little queer quotes corner (in a safe space)!
Queer by birth, proud by choice
Being straight was my phase
I find happiness in rainbows
There is no such thing as ‘too young to know’
Maybe I’m born with it, maybe it’s none of your business
If being gay was a choice, I’d be gayer
Don’t ever be afraid to show your true colors
If you won’t accept a queer child, don’t have kids
Being *sexual orientation/gender identity* is my superpower, what’s yours?
If I could have chosen to be gay or straight I think I would have simply chosen to be happyKevin Kidwell
Pride is everyday
It’s okay if you feel kinda super weird right now
Life isn’t binary and neither am I
Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.Mandy Hale
Stop splitting humans into pink and blue
I can’t even think straight
There’s nothing wrong with youChris Colfer
there’s a lot wrong with the world you live in
National Coming Out Day
October 11 is World Coming Out Day, first celebrated in the United States in 1988. And if you are planning on coming out, or ready to start supporting LGBT+ people around you – you can take this day as an opportunity to listen, to learn and get the courage.
This day is a day to raise awareness for LGBT people, and how much progress still needs to be made for them to be treated equal in this world.
We hope this article has helped you on your journey to coming out – if you are safe to do so. If you are not out, your sexual/gender identity is just as valid as those who are. You, do you!
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