Public support for same-sex marriage is at an all time high — with roughly 65 percent of the U.S. population in favor. It’s no surprise that our country's stance on many LGBT matters has come a long way in just a few years. But even in 2017, there’s no denying it — coming out is hard.

While what’s right for one person may not be right for everyone, below are a few tips that may help you come out to friends and family.

 

Know that you don’t have to come out. While many in the LGBT community find it liberating to come out to family and friends, there’s no rule that says you have to come out to the people around you.

 

You also don’t have to label yourself. Some people feel like they can only come out once they identify as gay, lesbian, transgender or bi. In reality, there’s nothing wrong with coming out by saying you are going to explore your sexuality or gender. Instead of listening to labels and definitions, listen to your feelings!

 

Do it on your own time. Days like National Coming Out Day (October 11) celebrate LGBT people and encourage them to live their authentic selves. That being said, there’s never one day or time when you should come out.

 

Allow people to be a little surprised. If someone is initially surprised, that doesn’t mean they won’t be accepting and loving in the future. If someone is surprised or has questions for you, try to sit with them and answer any questions they may have.

 

Consider writing a note. If you’re really nervous about someone’s reaction, or just don’t want to tell them face-to-face, consider writing them a note. Again, there’s no wrong way to come out!

 

Tell those closest to you before telling the world. While some people enjoy using tools like social media to tell their friends, family, and acquaintances all at once, most people find that it’s better to tell small groups of close friends first.

 

Be clear about who knows and who doesn’t know. If you come out to your parents, but don’t want your grandparents to know, make sure your parents understand that. Make it clear to whomever you come out to that not everyone knows, and you want to keep it that way.

 

Remember: you don’t need anyone’s approval. Coming out doesn’t mean you’re asking for approval, it’s telling your loved ones that this is who you are. While there’s always the possibility of someone not accepting you, that in no way diminishes who you are.

 

Come from a place of love. If you think someone will react negatively, make it clear that you are coming out because you love them and want to be closer.

 

Make it clear that this is the beginning, not the end. Coming out, especially to people who are not supportive, is not a one-step process. Not every question has to be answered right then and there. If your coming out is a surprise to people, they may need a few moments, even days, to respond with appropriate questions and to start a dialogue.

 

For patients receiving medical care at CIRCLE CARE Center, our Mental Health specialist offers individual and group counseling to support your emotional and physical well-being. If you want to learn more about the services we offer, give us a call at (203) 852.9525.