The phrase, “coming out of the closet”, refers to the act of telling an individual or group of people that you are LGBTQ+. Because this step can feel so big, many people don’t know where to start, or how to do it. Developing your own coming out plan can help give you a roadmap when navigating these often difficult discussions. While you are creating this plan, consider the following:
How to do it safely?
We still live in a society that doesn’t support the LGBTQ+ community. Youth under the age of 18 are particularly vulnerable, as they don’t have the freedom, autonomy, and independence that comes with adulthood. You may be in a situation where you are forced to be around people who don’t support the LGBTQ+ community, like being at home with unfriendly family, or in an unsupportive school environment. If you have reason to believe your physical, emotional, social, or moral safety is in jeopardy by coming out, consider if this is the right time. Your safety should come first, and you can always come out once you aren’t as vulnerable.
What can you do to increase your safety?
As stated above, you should consider if this is the right time to come out if you’re in an unsafe situation. Unfortunately, there may be certain things about your situation that are out of your control, such as someone threatening to out you or a high likelihood that your parent or guardian will find out you are LGBTQ+. In these circumstances, some may decide to come out to control the narrative that will be communicated to this potentially unsafe person. If you are in a similar situation, make sure you think ahead. Pack a bag ahead of time with the essentials in the event that you need to stay elsewhere, tell a trusted friend or adult about your plans so you can check in with them later, or create a self-care plan to remind you of your coping skills when your feelings are escalated.
What could go right?
We as humans have the tendency to think of the worst possible situations. This serves a purpose as we use it to survive and avoid potentially dangerous situations. However, thinking, “What could go wrong?” can be an extremely limiting mindset that creates fear, and stops our personal growth. Think about the things that you are looking forward to after coming out, or think about what negative things you’ll be letting go of once you do. Remember, there are people out there that will love and accept you exactly as you are; you just may have to look for them.
Who are you planning on coming out to?
Do I feel physically and emotionally safe coming out to this person? (if not, consider if this is the right time)
What identity/identities are you wanting to share with this person(s)?
I will come out to this person by:
— Phone call
— In person
— Other __________________________________________________________
Please note, social media is a high risk option as a way to come out, or communicate your identity. This is because there’s very little privacy on the internet, and anyone can find things you’ve posted if they look hard enough. If you do come out on social media, you need to be ok with everyone in your life (family, teachers, coworkers, classmates, etc.) knowing this information about you.
When are you going to come out to this person? (date/time/during an event/etc.)
What are you going to say?
Who will you check in with after you come out?
Remember, this is supposed to give you a general idea of how things may go. It may not happen like you thought it would and that’s ok so long as you’re safe. Below are some resources if you are in a crisis. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Trans Lifeline (crisis hotline for trans people, run by trans people)
Trevor Project Hotline (a suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth)
TrevorText (The Trevor Project’s text line)
text START to 678678
Blog Author: Morgan Dodge, Care Coordinator with the Orchard Place Integrated Health Program