Young LGBTQIA+ Person

Tips for coming out

Coming out might feel scary and overwhelming which is totally normal! The most important thing is to make sure you are ready and you do it on your own terms and in your own time. If you are wondering where to even begin, here are some tips to think about before you take the plunge!

Take your time

Everyone should come out at their own speed and on their own terms. Asking yourself whether you are ready to come out is really important. You might feel some pressure to come out to the people closest to you but remember that coming out is about you and only you. Take your time to figure out who you want to tell, how you want to tell them, and even IF you want to tell. There’s no rush. If you don’t want to come out that’s fine too.

You don’t have to choose a label

Labels like gay, lesbian, non‐binary, or queer can be really helpful for some people but they don’t feel right for everyone. If you don’t feel like you fit into any particular “label” that’s totally OK, don’t feel pressured to identify with one if you don’t want to. Similarly, it’s ok to change your mind about a label you’ve identified with in the past. You might initially come out as gay but later decide you are actually bi or pansexual.

Learn about other’s coming out experiences

Hearing about or reading about the experiences of others can be really helpful. Most people have had similar anxieties and fears around coming out so learning how they got through it can be really validating. There are heaps of videos on YouTube of coming out stories as well as blogs and forums where people share their experiences. You might even have some LGBTQIA+ friends and family who you could talk to about their coming out stories.

Start small

If you feel like you are ready to come out, start by telling one person. That’s it. Sometimes breaking the ice is the hardest step. It might be easier (or safer) to start by telling a close friend, teacher, or sibling before or instead of telling your parents/guardians. The important thing is to tell someone you can trust more than anyone else. This can give you the confidence you need to slowly start telling others – don’t feel you have to tell everyone straight away!

Find someone to talk to

Talking really does help – find someone who you can talk through all your worries, excitement, and fears. This can give you the opportunity to figure out how you want to come out to others and bounce ideas off with someone who supports you. This might be a friend, sibling, headspace worker, or even someone online.

Do it your own way

There’s no right or wrong way to come out. Some people might like to write a Facebook post, others might write a letter or text message, and some people prefer to do it face‐to‐face. How you choose to do it is up to you and you shouldn’t feel pressured to come out in a certain way just because others have done it that way.

Give people time

You’ve had time to come to terms with and understand what your identity means, but it might be completely new information for the person you’re telling. It might come as a total surprise to them, or they might not understand to start with so it’s a good idea to be patient and give them a chance to process it. They’ll probably have some questions, so think about what these might be and how you’ll answer them. If you don’t feel comfortable answering their questions (you’re not obligated to), give them some resources or weblinks so that they can read up and learn for themselves.

Safety is key

Let’s be real. Things don’t always go to plan. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan in place for when you are ready to come out. This might mean having a friend or support person present, or organising to stay at a friend’s house if it’s not safe for you to stay at home. It might even be a good idea to wait until you’re independent from your family before you come out to them. Look after your safety first and foremost, and decide what the safest option for you is.

Remember there is lots of support available online and in person if you need it. Don’t hesitate to seek help, there are heaps of people out there who can and want to support you.