How to Come Out As Gay or Lesbian

You have realised your sexuality, and have accepted it, and now you have decided to come out of the closet. You may want to stop and think about whether you are doing the right thing by confiding in certain people at this point. The key is to know if you are ready, then choose the first people you tell for their potential as positive supporters, and then decide whether or not you would like some of your more casual acquaintances to know. If you are in a gay or lesbian relationship, your partner will be able to support you.


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    Realize that you're making a brave choice, and you will be much happier in the long run than if you tried to hide it. Nothing is more important than being positive about your sexuality. Before expecting others to do so, Learn to accept yourself - if you are not comfortable with the idea of being publicly gay, bisexual or lesbian, think about it thoroughly. Not everyone is ready to let go of old prejudices, but by coming out and being a visible member of the community, you're making a difference in creating social change and acceptance. Although others may initially feel uncomfortable or awkward with your disclosure, the happiest and most authentic life is only possible if you are open with those around you.
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    Be prepared. Consider your family, friends, coworkers, and community before opening up to any of them. Do any of these people show homophobic feelings (remember that being opposed to homosexuality is not being considered as a homophobic behaviour)? Many religions do not condone homosexuality, and while the beliefs of others should be respected, there is no reason to tolerate religion/religious people that promote intolerance. It may take some time for others to come to terms with it and accept it, just the same as you did. Be reasonably sure that the first people you tell will be positive and supportive, and save coming out to other people until after you've had a little bit of practice in telling someone about it. It may help if you talk to or come out to other people that you know are gay. Your parents might be great about it, but they might not. If this is the case, realise that they are from a different generation and they may believe they have your best interests at heart.
    • Be prepared for questions they might ask. They might be afraid of how people will treat you, or that you'll never be able to have children - these are all very real concerns to them, so treat them seriously. If they are religious, you may want to find some material ahead of time to share with them that expresses a positive view. It may help to refer them to a religious leader that reflects a positive and healthy view of lesbian and gay relationships.
    • If you are in a situation where you believe you could be disowned or even outlawed, wait until you are safe and independent before you decide to come out.
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    Choose the first person you come out to wisely. A close friend or relative that you trust is a brilliant start, one who you feel is likely to support you. Discuss your sexuality with the people closest to you before making it commonly known. It is very important that you do not ambush them! They may feel confused or even angry if you do. Instead, tell them that you have something important to share with them, and that you have been thinking it over for a long time. Explain that you have realised you are different from others, but until recently, didn't really connect the dots as to why. By saying this, they will understand that you didn't keep it from them; you were simply trying to figure it out before saying anything to anyone.
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    Start coming out to more casual friends as you become more confident in your identity. Understand that it is not necessary to tell everyone at one time; everyone reacts differently, so tell each person separately at an appropriate time, when you have privacy and sufficient time to discuss it. As before, if you are in a situation where you believe you could be disowned or even outlawed, wait until you are safe and independent before you decide to come out. If you are comfortable with your casual acquaintances knowing, then the sooner the better. When people know who you are from the start, they are more willing to simply accept you as you are. It becomes harder to tell people after you've known them for a while, because they have formed an idea of who you are in their own heads without knowing properly.
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    Choose the method of coming out wisely. You might want to tell someone during a serious face-to-face conversation, or slip it in casually to show that you have accepted it and are comfortable with the idea. If you want to make it a determined conversation, take a deep breath and say it. Practice it alone first if you wish, but simply say it in a direct, forthright way.
    • If you don't want to make a big deal out of it, try to interject it into the conversation. The less of an issue it is to you, the more relaxed people will be when you tell them- there won't be that big overreaction you fear if you are calm when you reveal your orientation.
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    Be wise. Depending on your environment, you may come across extremes of rejection; it is important that you are prepared for potentially difficult times. Make sure that you are safe and ready before you take the leap. The whole community does not need to know unless you are comfortable in being totally out, and are safe and independent enough to do so. Unfortunately, you may be in a situation where you are dependent on someone or something that might potentially change if you come out; in a situation like this, you may need to change what it is you are dependent on before you come out. This may mean waiting until you have a home of your own, or in an area of safety where you do not run the risk of being outlawed or disowned.
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    Be proud of who you are! Hold your head up high and don't let anyone make you feel ashamed. Don't apologise or allow yourself to feel ashamed of it to anyone when you tell them the truth about yourself. Learn to not care what people say or do; allowing anyone to take a position that has you apologizing or feeling bad about your sexuality will only reinforce any negative preconceptions they have. Instead, be positive and firm in that happy outlook so that anyone who seems disappointed or sad about it will know that you are fine and happy. This is really important to show to those who love you - we all have a hard time imagining that anyone could be happy doing things that we ourselves might not be interested in doing; just as people who are happy rock climbing have a hard time understanding people who are happy sleeping in a hammock on their days off, straight people have a hard time understanding how a gay person can be happy. All you need to do is to assure them that you are.


  • Don't be afraid to show your partner or spouse in public/around parents. This is your choice and your life, and you have to be confident in your relationship.
  • If you do wish to be totally open, you can say something along the lines of: "Thank you, but I'm already taken. My partner and I have been together exclusively for..." or "I'm flattered, but I'm gay/lesbian/straight" or "Thank you, but I don't date men/women".
  • Prepare a response to people hitting on you. If someone is flirting with you, you need to answer as you feel appropriate. In an environment where you may not want to divulge your sexual orientation you might say: "Thank you but I'm involved with someone".
  • Try to make friends with new people - gay, straight, or bisexual; sometimes they can be very understanding and help you to get through this if it becomes a rough patch in your life. Use the Internet to network and meet other gay people for support. Don't take it personally if people ask you questions about your sexuality - see it as your opportunity to be a good liaison for the LGBT community.
  • Have patience. Remember that you yourself took time to get used to your sexuality, so others may need time to get used to the idea too. Be moderate - it is okay to find pride within yourself, but don't push your views or beliefs on others. Some people may struggle to accept it, but make sure they respect you. If someone shows any disrespect, sometimes it is best to just ignore it.
  • Show some pride symbols if you can - the six-coloured rainbow and the upside down lavender triangle. Perhaps try wearing a rainbow necklace or bracelet or a sweatband.
  • If you just want to get it off your chest, you could always talk to another LGBT person. They will sympathize with you and might be able to help you through the road ahead.
  • Try to wait until it comes up naturally in conversation, if the setting allows for it. Not every "coming out" has to be a huge event, especially with a crowd you're fairly sure won't be surprised or shocked. For example, you might bring it up casually, without a big moment of revelation, if you're playing a game of truth or dare, or talking about celebrity crushes.
  • Ask if there is another member of your family that is part of the LGBT community. If so, ask to see if you can speak/text/call/write to them. They can help you in your coming out, or can supervise when you do come out, as a protective figure should things go bad.
  • Consider coming out by writing a note or making a video if you're too nervous to say it to the person's face.
  • If you're going to tell your family don't be nervous. You can leave clues that lead to your family finding out that you're Gay / Lesbian.


  • Keep your safety in mind when choosing when and how to come out. If you live in a very conservative place, you may want to seek out other members of the LGBT community first to learn about their experiences.
  • Don't bother to retaliate to people who say things like "you will go to hell". It is best to reply with something like: "I appreciate your concern, but I feel comfortable with who I am and I'm sorry that you feel that way", and to walk away from that person. It's not worth the stress.
  • Avoid gossip! People may not feel like they can trust you if they have to hear it through the grapevine. If your decision will have a definite effect on certain people in your life, tell those people first. A good example: your girlfriend or boyfriend. If you've been dating a straight boy or girl, you need to let him or her know first. Don't keep stringing them along, it makes them feel foolish and it wastes their time, which is not fair of you.
  • Keep a close eye on your relationships with friends, family and acquaintances, and note any changes in their behaviour toward you. If you sense discomfort or awkwardness, give them time. If it doesn't pass, address it with them as soon as you're able to.
  • Coming out to the whole community is sometimes not ideal. Make sure that you are safe, and not breaking the law in being in a homosexual relationship.
  • If you are suffering from harassment at school or the workplace, don't be afraid to ask for help from authority figures.
  • The possibility of having negative encounters will be higher after you come out, but be strong, and remember that you do not need to be accepted by anyone but yourself!

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