Gay Men and Women – How and When To ‘Come Out’?
Worldwide, as we speak, men and women, young and old, are agonizing on their private secret: ‘I’m gay, and I can’t hide it anymore’. People who just want to live a life as a regular couple with someone of the same sex. Many of us have family and friends who consider homosexuality as ‘abnormal’ or ‘wrong’, so it’s natural for people who are gay to have reservations about telling those special to them how they feel.
The first thing to consider: who NEEDS to know? You aren’t obligated to tell anyone it doesn’t concern. Who you tell comes down to several things. Firstly, who do YOU feel you want to know? Who do you want to talk to about your love life, your attractions, your relationship ups and downs? These people will be close friends, possibly family, too.
Consider your current lifestyle. Do you have a partner now? If so, is it becoming more important to share them more in your daily life, with other people special to you? Often, people in love, straight or gay, want that person involved in their life more as a relationship grows. When in a relationship, we like to bring our partner to special occasions, celebrate, have support during the bad times. Maybe you wish to live together, and have realized that those around you will need help understanding this. Some people choose to tell their loved ones they are gay because they don’t wish to feel that they are ‘hiding’ anymore. These are all ‘turning points’ that will lead to a person wanting to let others in their life know that they are gay.
There are times when a person decides to wait for an easier time to tell loved ones, particularly family. It’s sad to admit, but oftentimes true that families can have a harder time dealing with the news that a family member is gay. Attending high school can make ‘coming out’ an extremely stressful situation. Students may be fearful of being teased or not accepted by their peers. No student should be treated badly because they are gay, obviously, but it consider this – if you are at school and aren’t dating, is it anyone else’s business? If you’re fortunate to have some very mature friends, of course, tell them if you think it will help you.
Some high school students find they prefer to hold off telling family until necessary, perhaps until they are older, have left school, or even have left home. This gives parents time to see that children have grown and matured, and it isn’t a ‘phase’ or something they can try to stop. There is of course, always the exception, and there are a lot more open minded parents around, whose reaction could surprise you.
Another common situation is homosexuality in heterosexual marriage. This can be extremely stressful for both husband and wife. One person feels trapped in a lifestyle that is no longer making them happy. A gay husband or wife can suffer a lot of guilt over the way they feel, to the extent of staying in the relationship as a way of ‘making it up’ to the other partner. If this is you, ask yourself: are you helping your husband or wife, in holding off dealing with your feelings and telling them? Not only are you prolonging your happiness, but theirs too. They’ll need time to deal with the marriage’s end, and you should make this as easy and painless as possible. If this means ending the marriage sooner, then it’s possibly the best way. The longer you stay married, the more the chances are your partner will grow more attached. If your spouse truly loves you, they’ll only want your happiness. Yes, they’ll miss you, want to stay married, but few people want to keep someone in a marriage if they’re unwilling.
Many gay people divorce their husbands or wives and stay best friends. But of all the people who need telling, husbands and wives rank highly! Or, at least, if you don’t tell them you are gay, they deserve an amicable split.
The next suggestion may sound trite, but still bears mentioning. Why not talk to a counselor? It can be ‘practise’ for telling your loved ones. What’s great about counselors, is they can help you work out what’s the right thing for you to do, and how to say it best.
Which brings us to the next question– what to say? Honestly? Whatever you want! But, a good guideline is to start with why you are telling them. If you are single, you might just want to say that you prefer dating people of the same sex. If you are in a relationship, you could just let the person you are telling know that you have a boyfriend/girlfriend. It helps if you make a short simple statement to start with, then give the recipient a moment to process this news.
Some people you ‘come out’ to will say, ‘I knew it all along!’, ‘good for you!’ or, ‘so?’ These people are a breath of fresh air, and will make you wonder why you didn’t tell them sooner. Others will have questions, some may be angry or upset. Please remember, that although you need all the love and support from these people, that many people have been raised in families that taught homosexuality is ‘wrong’. Go in with a willingness to work through the feelings with your loved ones. For parents, it can be a shock, for the reason that they may feel scared about not having grandchildren, even if they accept homosexuality.
It isn’t acceptable, however, for anyone to abuse you. If this happens, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Let tempers calm down, protect yourself from others’ anger. Realise people often calm down and accept things with time. Some people may never accept this, and it’ll be your decision how to handle those people.
Above all, be true to yourself! It’s your life, and you’re the one living it. As mentioned, you may wish to wait, and there are many good reasons for doing this. However, there’ll come a time, when you’ll wish to live and love the way you want to. Take time, and you’ll always find a way. If you know who you want to inform you are gay and why, you’re halfway there! All there is to do now is to wish you the best of luck. People can surprise you with their acceptance, and people who are gay are often overwhelmed by the freedom this experience can bring.