Coming out later in life can be a daunting task, whether you’ve just discovered your sexual orientation or gender identity or have known for a long time but have felt like sharing your identity with others would be impossible. That being said, making the decision to finally come out can also be an incredibly liberating experience.
There are many factors to consider when coming out, such as your personal circumstances, your support system, and your readiness. Here are some tips to consider to help you on your journey.
Do your research
Before you come out, learn as much accurate information as you can about the LGBTQ+ community. This can help you understand yourself better and connect you to language to describe your feelings and experiences, which will help you to feel more confident and prepared when you come out. People may have a lot of questions about your sexual orientation or gender identity, and it is helpful to be prepared to answer these questions honestly and in a way that feels comfortable for you.
Find a support system
It is important to have a support system of people who will love and accept you for who you are. This could include friends, family, or other LGBTQ+ community members. Additionally, you may wish to consider joining an LGBTQ+ support group, or seeking out a therapist who specializes in LGBTQ+ issues.
Come out on your own terms
You could write a letter, have a face-to-face conversation, or come out over the phone - there is no right or wrong way to come out. Come out when you feel ready and comfortable, there is no need to rush or feel pressured. Start by coming out to one or two trusted people, this can help you to gauge how you feel about coming out and to get some support from people you know and trust. If you are in a relationship, consider whether you should come out to your partner first. This can be a difficult conversation, but ultimately it will be necessary to be honest with your partner about your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Be prepared for a range of reactions
When you come out, people may react in different ways. Some people may be accepting and supportive, while others may be surprised, confused, or even hostile. It is important to be prepared for this range of reactions - on one hand, you may have more support and acceptance than you expected, and on another hand you may experience negative reactions that can be very painful. Remember that people who react in an unsupportive fashion do not have to dictate your coming out journey - you are not alone, and that there are many people who will support you.
Know when to stay hopeful
Coming out can be a process. It may take time for people to adjust to your new identity, either because they have to overcome their initial surprise or because they have to challenge negative or stereotypical ideas about LGBTQ+ people that they previously held. It is okay to take your time and explore whether some people are willing to grow and walk with you on your journey.
Seek more support
Coming out later in life can be a challenging experience, but it can also be a rewarding one. Getting the support of a therapist can make the coming out process a little bit easier. Click on the button below to set up a free phone consultation with one of our experienced LGBTQ+ affirming therapists - we’re ready to help you begin this next chapter of your life.