Coming Out

Why do some people come out in middle school, high school, college, later in life…?  How does someone know when, or if, to come out?  Good question.  The answer: it depends.  Some people may have always known their sexual identity.  Others may not come to understand their sexual orientation until later in life.  For some people, sexual orientation may be fluid, changing through their lifetime.  Many students may begin to question their sexual orientation in college when they are away from family and meeting new people, experiencing new environments.  And coming out will be different for everyone, with factors such as family, religion, and support being just a few things that people who come out may consider.  For a guide on coming out, check out this link:  Also check out the questioning link on the right side of the page for a great list of other links.  -Becky

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5 Responses to Coming Out

  1. lgbtqa says:

    I am interested in guys, although not many people know it. How can I meet other guys?

    This is a very tough question that ultimately depends on you. While you could choose to wait for the guy of your dreams to figure you out and approach you, it probably isn’t going to happen. What the rest of us have to do is make the decision to come out in various times and places. Outing yourself doesn’t have to mean wearing rainbow attire though. It could mean approaching someone and telling them you have feelings for them or attending a Free 2 Be meeting. Ultimately you have to make the decision though. What is more important? Meeting other guys, or not letting people know that you want to? -Chris

  2. lgbtqa says:

    Check out this link:
    There are several video clips about coming out from many different people with different LGBT experiences.

  3. lgbtqa says:

    Thinking About Coming Out During the Holidays?

    Deciding when its the right time to come out to the most important people in your life can be incredibly difficult. Coming out is more complicated for some members of our community than others. It can feel risky to come out, even if family members have expressed support for LGBTQ people in general, but if people in your family have openly expressed negative feelings about LGBTQ people, or if coming out would challenge your family’s fundamental cultural or religious beliefs, it can feel especially difficult. Whatever the circumstances, thinking ahead and having support in place can make all the difference.

    Here are Some Helpful Tips

    It can be helpful to think ahead of time about concerns that might come up.
    Ask yourself a few questions:

    What makes this the “right” time to tell my family?

    • What do you hope to gain from telling them now? • What are you worried about, if anything?

    Should I come out while driving in the car with my family?

    • How long is the drive?
    • If it doesn’t go well, how comfortable will the
    drive be?

    Should I come out right when I get home?

    • Do you think the news will be well-received and celebrated for the rest of the visit?

    • If it doesn’t go well, do you have someplace else you can stay for the rest of break?

    • How comfortable is your family with tension?

    Should I wait and tell them as I’m walking out the door at the end of the visit?

    • Will you have enough time to talk about it? • Will you miss a celebration?
    • Why wait?

    Who is my coming out “buddy”?

    • Have someone you can call and let them know how it went.

    • They can celebrate if it goes well–they can pick
    you up and give a you a place to sleep for the night if it doesn’t.

    Credit goes to the University of Texas at Austin, Gender and Sexuality Center for these “Tips.”

    For more great tips for a happy holiday visit, check out this list from PFLAG.


  4. lgbtqa says:

    Thank you to the person who shared this experience:

    I know a lot of people have a rough time coming out, but sometimes it’s not as bad as you think it will be. I had a much more positive experience than I thought. I think I was harder on myself than anyone around me. Once I truly accepted that I liked girls, I slowly started telling the people that I truly trusted and I talked about it. You have to talk about it if you want to genuinely accept it. Telling my parents was scary but they love me and although they don’t get it, they want me to be happy. I guess my advice would just be to be yourself. Be happy with who you are because no1 will be ok with it if you’re not. I always wished I was straight but I know I would be missing out on the real me and I’m happy with my life 🙂

  5. lgbtqa says:

    Thank you to the person who shared this heartfelt story:

    At age eighteen, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about myself. I was confident, carefree, and about to start college. When I turned nineteen the following summer, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a fuzzy, distorted image. Every piece of me was exposed, out of place and hanging on by a thread. I had fallen in love with a girl. I needed to accept that.
    I first met Courtney at my work-study job on campus as a telemarketer. Along with making some money, I was hoping this job would make me some friends. I had only been in college for a month. That first day, I sat across from her at the long table and she introduced herself. She seemed like the friendliest face in the room. She was a junior and had worked at the phonathon the previous year. Between the short dark hair and the jokes the manager made with her, I understood she was gay. I had lots of friends who were gay and for some reason this made me more comfortable around her. The conversation flowed between us easily. We instantly connected when we found out that we were from the same area of Massachusetts. In fact, we only lived five minutes from each other. Despite our friendly bond, Courtney and I remained acquaintances for the semester.
    When second semester rolled around I seemed to run into her on campus more than normal. I even saw her at the movies and then again at a book sale in Boston.
    “Are you stalking me?” she joked.
    “I guess so!” I said playfully. We walked around the bookstore together making small talk and then went our separate ways.
    I don’t know when our friendship really began. It may have been the day in February that she and I worked together alone. We goofed around and she persuaded me to watch an episode of Glee on her computer instead of calling alumni like we were supposed to. We exchanged numbers and eventually she invited me to a charity event on campus with her and her friends. I was ecstatic. I hadn’t been invited anywhere beyond my freshman dorm, never mind by an upperclassman.
    The event was semi-formal. I borrowed a short blue dress from a friend and curled my red hair. I found myself wanting to impress her, but I didn’t think anything of it. She answered the door at her dorm wearing a light blue shirt with a black tie. She looked adorable. That night was the most fun I had had at a school event. Even though I didn’t know her friends, I felt safe and relaxed around her. We had a blast.
    I think back to that spring often, trying to figure out when my feelings for Courtney turned from “just friends” to something more. There were clues along the way, but I denied them up and down. I could have taken a hint from the first time she invited me to drink with her. As soon as my fingers started to tingle from the alcohol, I kept trying to sit closer to her. In the days that followed, I craved that same affection without Rolling Rock to serve as justification.
    I figured that I had found a best friend. She was my favorite person to be around. Freshman year had been socially stressful. I didn’t feel like myself with anyone until I started spending time with Courtney. She brought out the silly side of me. She also helped me relax about school. Since I didn’t have a big friend group, I put all of my energy towards my classes. She cut my study time in half.
    “Amy, you know this,” she would say as I went over my notes for the sixth time.
    She was right, I did. I needed to unwind and she always found a way to persuade me.
    It was like we started dating before I even realized it. We would go on “friend dates” to get coffee. We liked to play get-to-know-you games by asking each other random questions.
    “Okay, what’s your dream job?” I asked with a soft smile.
    “Hmm, To travel and write articles.”
    “Really? I want to travel and take pictures!”
    We joked about growing old together and working for “National Geographic,” roaming around the globe. Looking back on it now, this was our way of flirting. We couldn’t get enough of each other.
    I would disappear to the library each day of the week because I knew she would be there. I would sit across from her with my laptop in front of me and glance up at her every chance that I got. When we met eyes for a split second there was energy. So much that we had to look away with nervous smiles. It happened all the time. When I wasn’t in the library with her she would surprise me by showing up to my dorm. I was charmed by her spontaneity.
    She enjoyed the simple things in life just as much as I did. There was a jetty down the road that she would bring me to so we could sit close and stare at the ocean for hours on end. The stars always seemed more amazing when I was around her. The world seemed more amazing.
    We woke up early one Saturday morning to catch the sunrise over the water. It was absolutely stunning. When we got back to school, it was still early.
    “Are you even tired?” she asked.
    “Nope!” I replied with enthusiasm.
    “Me neither. Come with me.”
    I always agreed to spend more time with her. That morning seemed to last forever or maybe it’s just that I didn’t want it to end. We ran around on the warm turf of the football field laughing and finding foolish ways to throw a Frisbee. When we got tired of that we went down to the beach to take our shoes off and run around some more. I felt as happy as a child, completely carefree. No one else was around. They were all sleeping, probably hung over, but I was awake with this remarkable girl, enjoying the innocent pleasures of life. That morning was ours and I treasured every second of it.
    In the evenings, I would run off to her dorm so we could watch TV show episodes. It was just an excuse for us to lie next to each other. I would put my head on her shoulder and not think anything of it until someone else would enter the room. At that moment, I would tense up and push away from her. Why was I pushing away? It didn’t mean anything. We just liked to cuddle. That was normal, right? I was straight. Have a crush on my lesbian friend? No way! I had other lesbian friends. They were gay, not me.
    I loved the attention I got from her, but eventually I started to feel guilty. I was constantly questioning my motives behind hanging out with her. I knew that I felt differently around her than I did around any of my other friends. I thought it was just an infatuation. She shared the same infatuation, but was that fair? I was straight. She was gay. Was I leading her on?
    The answer was no. “Leading someone on” is a term used to describe someone who is flirty without any intention of being romantically involved with the other person. I didn’t tell anyone but I had thought about Courtney in a romantic way. It scared me. Every time the thought came up, I pushed it to the side. I swallowed the truth.
    “It’s so crazy how I can talk to you about anything,” she would say to me.
    “I know, right? I feel the same way,” I would reply. I was lying. She knew all of my secrets except for one, the one about her. I almost let it slip once without even realizing it. We were sitting on her bed just talking about life and relationships, typical girl talk. An unexpected knot started to twist in my throat as I stared into her beautiful brown eyes. She was so good to me.
    “Courtney,” I said hesitantly. My eyes started to sting.
    “What’s wrong, Amy?” she asked with concern.
    I swallowed the lump. “I’m afraid that I will never find a guy as good as you.” I blinked away a tear. More tears started to filling in, blurring my vision. I could tell that she was looking back at me in disbelief. There was a long pause between us. I couldn’t comprehend what I had said to her or why I was crying, but I knew it was the truth. She knew it too. We remained silent as she gave me a long hug. I was still in denial of my feelings for her, but this was the moment that she started to catch on. We didn’t talk about my comment much after that, in fear of how the other person felt.
    The 9th of May, 2011 was a Monday. Most people hate Mondays, but from the following Tuesday on, Courtney and I would always refer to “Monday” with ridiculous smiles on our faces. I slept over her dorm that night. It was nothing new. We watched a few episodes of The O.C. and then turned off the lights to go to bed. It was the last week of the semester. My feelings for Courtney were bubbling below the surface and I was terrified, but I wasn’t going to do anything about it. “I just need to get home so I can figure this all out,” I would repeat to myself. My plan was to talk to my friend Nicco. He was gay and the only person I could imagine telling. He would help me out. And who knows, maybe these strange feelings would just go away.
    My eyes were wide open as I rested my head on Courtney’s chest. I wanted to cry. She meant so much to me. My body tingled every time we were close. I was so damn confused. Overwhelmed by my thoughts once again, I rolled away from her. She turned her body towards mine.
    “Are you okay?” she whispered. She had an uncanny sense of when I was upset.
    “Ya, I’m fine,” I lied.
    We were resting on our sides, our faces inches from each other. She put her arm over me to rub my back. Somehow we slid closer together. Neither of us spoke. I could hear myself breathing, but I couldn’t stop! Her nose was touching mine. My heart was racing. Suddenly, our lips touched. The amount of tension that was built up behind that first kiss was indescribable and wonderful. When we separated, I held my breath once more.
    “Oh shit,” she said “Sorry.”
    She was completely vulnerable. To her surprise, I started to laugh. “Sorry?” I said giggling, “Why are YOU sorry?” She began to laugh too. That’s what I loved about us. We were comfortable with each other, comfortable enough to share our final secret. We spent the rest of the night kissing and laughing about all the moments that we had suppressed our feelings. For that night, I was fearless.
    The next week was an exciting adventure of stealing kisses behind closed doors and finding empty beaches so we could be alone. She knew I was afraid to be seen in public, and she respected that. My feelings for her were still overwhelming, but this time it was because no one else knew what I was doing. A flood of assumptions consumed my every thought as I walked around campus. No one would believe me. No one would understand. I didn’t even understand! I didn’t know anyone else who felt the way that I did. I had many gay friends from high school, but I didn’t feel like I was gay. I didn’t struggle much with my identity. In fact, I was a very confident and comfortable person my senior year. What was going on with me now?
    I desperately searched the internet for someone with a similar story. I didn’t find hope. I found stories of “straight” girls who had one-time relationships with other girls but no success stories. I guess I was looking for someone to say, “I was attracted to guys my whole life, then I met this woman and we’ve been married ever since. We lived happily ever after.â” I started to get the picture that this was no one’s happy ending.
    My friends in my dorm were suspicious of my disappearances that last week. Eventually one of my close friends squeezed the truth out of me. I cried. I cried almost every day trying to figure out what I was doing. Courtney was patient with me. I was so happy with her and she knew that, but I wasn’t ready to tell the world.
    When we departed for home at the end of the semester we decided to leave in open terms. We knew how we felt about each other, but I needed the summer to figure myself out. We still talked every day. I am very close with my family, but I decided not to tell them before I left for camp in late May. I wasn’t ready.
    I was a counselor at Camp Calumet Lutheran, an overnight camp for boys and girls. I had limited time to talk to Courtney, but when I did I tried to reassure her that I was going to be fine. She could hear the wariness in my voice. Each conversation got more and more serious. The happy-go-lucky, free-spirited Amy that she had met that spring was hiding. She tried her best to comfort me and tell me that things were going to get better. I had trouble believing her.
    That summer, being away from her, my thoughts were out of control. I was in New Hampshire. She was in New York. I was surrounded by friends who had known me for years. They had a perception of me: I was straight. Until recently, I would have agreed with them. How was I supposed to rip down that image and replace it with one that I didn’t have a label for? I was attracted to her but I couldn’t explain why. I wasn’t a lesbian. I wasn’t straight.
    The previous four years, I attended Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public High School. As you could assume from that name, there were a number of students there who identified as gay. My family was baffled by how many gay friends I had growing up, not only from my high school but childhood friends as well. I became accustomed to listening to “coming out” stories and enjoyed giving advice. I also became a self-proclaimed gay activist. I seized any opportunity to discuss sexual orientation and defend my friends who were gay. Unfortunately, I realized that summer that I was terrible at defending myself. I felt weak on the battlefield. The crazy part is I was surrounded by some of the most open-minded young adults. It was my own battle. It was all in my head.
    Near the end of the summer, I told Courtney to move on. She had told me that she loved me. I didn’t know if I loved her. I didn’t know what it meant to say that to someone. I was afraid to say it. I was exhausted of all my “what ifs.” I was terrified that one day I was going to wake up and I realize that I wasn’t attracted to her anymore. I didn’t want to hurt her like that. I didn’t think I was being fair. I let her go.
    A few weeks later, she found someone else. It was someone I knew well. I was so hurt, I was nauseous. I was nauseous for weeks. Weeks turned into months. I finally understood. I assumed, since I was attracted to guys I could never be attracted to a girl. Since I had never been attracted to a girl, I never thought that one could break my heart. That August, I realized just how wrong I was.
    Four months later, I have come much closer to accepting my identity. I still don’t have a label for myself, but I have found that I am not alone. There are other people with similar stories. I joke around and call myself a “stray” (“straight-gay”). I have told my parents since then and many of my friends as well. They have all been wonderfully accepting. It is still hard to explain from time to time, but I feel like it is my duty to share my story, to open people’s minds. I don’t know who I will end up with in the future, but I realize it doesn’t matter. Love is intangible and unpredictable. I’ve always been told, “Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t make assumptions about other people.” It turns out I jumped to conclusions about myself at a very young age. Eighteen is not the time to pretend like you know yourself. It’s a time to begin the journey self-discovery. I hope to never end that journey.

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