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Making a Coming Out Plan

When you’re ready to tell that first person — or even those first few people — give yourself time to prepare. Think through your options and make a deliberate plan of whom to approach, when and how.

You may want to ask yourself the following questions:

What kind of signals are you getting?

  • You can get a sense of how    accepting people will be by the things they say — or don’t say — when    GLBT-related issues come up. Try to bring them up yourself by talking    about a GLBT-themed movie, TV character or news event. If a person’s    reactions are positive, chances are he or she will be more accepting of    what you have to tell them.

Are you well-informed about GLBT issues?

  • The reactions of others will    most likely be based on a lifetime of misinformation, and in some cases    even negative portrayals of GLBT people. If you’ve done some reading on    the subject, you’ll be prepared to answer their concerns and questions    with reliable and accurate information. Learn    more.

Do you know what it is you want to say?

  • Particularly at the beginning    of the coming out process, many people are still answering tough questions    for themselves and are not ready to identify as being gay, lesbian,    bisexual or transgender. That’s OK. Maybe you just want to tell someone    that you’re attracted to someone of the same sex, or that you feel    uncomfortable with the expectations of cultural gender norms. Maybe you    just want to tell someone about a new same-sex attraction, or that you’re    feeling that your true gender does not align with cultural “gender norms.”    Labels aren’t important; your feelings are. Also, you may want to try    writing out what you want to say, to help organize and express your    thoughts clearly.

Do you have support?

  • You don’t have to do this    alone. A support system is an invaluable place to turn to for reassurance.    Sources of support can be other GLBT people who are living openly, GLBT    hotlines, school guidance counselors, a supportive member of the clergy    or, if you are coming out for the second or third time, perhaps the first    person you opened up to initially. A supportive mental health professional    often helps people become more comfortable. In fact, these are the first    people some of us come out to.

Is this a good time?

  • Timing can be very important.    Be aware of the mood, priorities, stresses and problems of those to whom    you would like to come out. Be aware that if they’re dealing with their    own major life concerns, they may not be able to respond constructively to    yours.

Can you be patient?

  • Some people will need time to    deal with this new information, just as it took time for many of us to    come to terms with being GBT. When you come out to others, be prepared to    give them the time they need to adjust to what you’ve said. Rather than    expect immediate understanding, try to establish an ongoing, caring    dialogue.

Remember, the whole reason you chose to be open with the person is that you care about them. If they react strongly, it’s likely because they care about you as well. Keep that in mind as you navigate trying times.

Learn what HRC says about making a plan

     
 

Having the Conversations

 

Fostering strong, deep relationships with your friends and family begins  with honesty. Living openly is important because it allows for closer  relationships with the people you care about — and ultimately a happier life  for you. For most people, coming out or opening up to someone new starts with  a conversation.

 

It’s normal to want or hope for positive reactions from the people you  tell, including:

 
  • Acceptance
  • Support
  • Understanding
  • Comfort
  • Reassurance that your      relationship won’t be negatively affected
  • Confidence that your      relationship will be closer
  • Acknowledgment of your      feelings
  • Love
 

All or some of these positive reactions can result from your coming out  conversation, but they may not happen immediately. Putting yourself in the  other person’s shoes may also be helpful.

 

A person who has just had someone come out to them often feels:

 
  • Surprised
  • Honored
  • Uncomfortable
  • Scared
  • Unsure how to react
  • Supportive
  • Disbelieving
  • Relieved
  • Curious
  • Angry
  • Anxious
  • Unsure what to do next
 

Give the person you’re telling the time they need. It may also be helpful  to remember that the person you’re really doing this for is you. When you’re  ready to tell someone, consider starting with the person most likely to be  supportive. This might be a friend, relative or teacher. Maybe you will tell  this person that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Maybe you  will simply say that you have questions about your sexual orientation or  gender identity.

 

Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. You are the expert in  knowing what’s best for yourself and what you are feeling. When you are  ready, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

 
  • Find a relaxed,      private place to have the conversation, and allow adequate time.
  • People will usually      take their cues from you in how to approach this — so be open and honest      and say that it’s okay to ask questions. Appropriate and gentle humor      can go a long way to easing anxiety for both you and the person you are      speaking with.
 
 

 

 

 

Learn what HRC says about having the conversations

 

Link to coming out stories: http://www.rslevinson.com/gaylesissues/comingoutstories/blcoming.htm

That one has LOTS of good stories from all different types of people.

 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center
354 Baker University Center
T: (740) 593-0239
E: lgbt@ohio.edu

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