If you haven’t come out of the closet yet, there’s one thing for certain in your life: Finding the right words can be hard. Even for those who have already come out, there are often others who you haven’t come out to yet that might be difficult for you to tell.
However, coming out of the closet is a monumentally freeing experience, and for anyone who is in a position to do so safely, it’s a great feeling to be able to say, with confidence, who you really are and what you really want. Sometimes, we just need someone to (figuratively) hold our hands and tell us it’s going to be okay.
Thankfully, with the internet, it’s not so hard to find someone who’s been in the place you are now. Even if your family is truly supportive, coming out can be scary – but knowing that someone else has been in your exact position can help ease some of your fears.
“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.”
― Rachel Maddow
This quote is powerful, and helps to placate a lot of the negativity associated with the labels of gay, lesbian, etc. When you come out to someone, you’re taking away the power of their words when used to hurt you. After all, you told them you were gay – how is it an insult to state the known?
“So, let me get this straight– You want me to stop being a lesbian and being attracted to women because it is a ‘sin’? Last time I checked, when you lie you are sinning. Sure, I could tell you I am no longer a lesbian or that I am no longer attracted to women and am straight, or I could even tell you the moon is made of cheese. I could tell you many things, but the moon will still not be made of cheese, and I will still not be attracted to men. I could tell you a lie in order to placate you, but isn’t the truth supposed to set me free? I choose truth over lies any day of the week.”
― Cristina Marrero
This quote is powerful for those who are afraid to come out to their loved ones because of religion. Marrero perfectly sums up the power of the truth – we gain power when we embrace the truth, even if a lie is easier to accept. If someone tells you that God will not love you anymore if you’re gay, you can gently remind them that God created you this way, and you are in no position to deny the facts!
“It’s hard not to be a fighter when you’re constantly under siege.”
― Cassandra Duffy
This particular quote doesn’t specifically deal with coming out, but it can apply to any part of your life. If you feel that you are under attack for who you are, it’s your natural instinct to want to fight back. Naturally, that means that in order to reach peace within ourselves, we must want there to be peace – and we must fight to destroy the negativity that surrounds us. Thankfully, the two go hand in hand.
“To those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender-let me say- you are not alone. Your struggle, for the end to violence and discrimination, is a shared struggle. Today, I stand with you. And I call upon all countries and people, to stand with you too.
A historic shift is underway. We must tackle the violence, decriminalize consensual same sex relationships and end discrimination. We must educate the public. I call on this council and people of conscience to make this happen.
The time has come.”
― Ban Ki-Moon
When we come out, our primary goal is usually to put an end to the bitterness we feel inside ourselves. However, truthfully, some of the bitterness will translate to bitterness from other people. Ban Ki-Moon expresses the importance of standing together to beat this opposition. If we keep it internalized, we won’t ever truly be happy. We may not face the discrimination if we remain in the closet, but we will be allowing the discrimination to continue without standing alongside each other. We protect each other when we stand together.
“But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”
― Becky Albertalli
This quote addresses the fact that “coming out” is not just a one-time-thing. There are a million things to come out about, a billion times to come out, and a trillion reasons why you should. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to make such a big deal about it – but there’s no such thing as perfection, after all, and there will always be another occasion to tell the truth about ourselves.
“It’s okay. It may not seem like it right now, but you are going to be fine. I know it’s scary, but don’t be afraid. You are who you are, and you should love that person, and I don’t want anyone to have to go through 22 years of their life afraid to accept that.”
― Connor Franta
When we think of it this way, coming out seems to be the obvious choice. Even those who consider themselves honest people will likely be hesitant about coming out. As previously mentioned, even if you have an ample support system (which hopefully you do!) coming out is hard. But that doesn’t mean that the truth isn’t precious.
“Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better.”
― Harvey Milk
While I don’t necessarily agree that we “have” to come out, there is truth in this quote that will ring true for everyone in the gay community. The only way we have to “disarm” our oppressors is by addressing the fact that we are real – we cannot allow ourselves to remain invisible.
Of course, for those who are in unsupportive situations, it may be in your best interest to not come out. If it isn’t safe for you to reveal your true self, you shouldn’t let anyone pressure you to do so. However, there is a huge relief that comes from the simple act of being true to yourself.
Once you’ve come out (the first time or the hundredth) you have given yourself the power to be real.
This realness you’ll feel is a magical and addicting feeling – if you’ve been living a lie for most of your life, you can understand how liberating it is to finally show your true self.
If you are afraid to come out of the closet, please don’t hesitate to speak to someone who’s been there. There is a wealth of places on the internet that will allow you to find like-minded individuals, some even anonymously. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to come out, and it’s important that you find the way that works best to you. Sometimes it may be subtle, and other times overt. The main thing to consider is how coming out will make you feel.
Be strong, be courageous, and be truthful – our community needs you!