A Look Back on Coming Out Week

October 11th marked the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day and reflecting on that day, I’ve felt the need to write something in honor of that day. People across the nation cerebrated by coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or as an ally, as well as celebrating people who have already come out. Founded on the concept that silence and ignorance are what feed homophobia, it is emphasized that coming out is the most impactful form of political activism, as exposure to the LGBTQ+ in one’s personal life and community fosters tolerance and disintegrates oppressive views. Here at UMaine, LGBTQ Services, the RRC, and Wilde Stein hosted an entire week dedicated to coming out.  It consisted of a variety of social and educational events. Even if the “political duty” aspect of coming out doesn’t particularly resonate with you, coming out truly allows you to start living your life as the most authentic version of you! As someone who came out as bisexual my senior year of high school, there were some things I wish I had known about coming out that really would’ve made the process easier for me, so here are some tips that will help you if you’re considering coming out!

 

 

1.     Don’t overthink it

When I was considering coming out, I started to overthink EVERYTHING! Was I really bisexual? Was it even worth coming out? Would my friends still accept me? Yes, yes, and yes! Go with your gut, don’t second guess yourself!

2.     Tell someone you trust first

The first person I came out to was my best friend. I was worried about how she would react because I had never shared my sexuality with anyone, and I was scared that it would alter our friendship. Of course, I trusted her more than anyone and telling her turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, because she came out to me as bisexual too! Telling her and then using each other as sources of confidence made me feel so much more secure in my sexuality and much more open to sharing this part of myself with the world. 

3.     Make sure the timing is right

When you’re coming out to your family and friends, make sure you’re in a private place where you feel safe, and you have plenty time to have a thorough discussion without being rushed.

4.     Be prepared with what you’re going to say and how you will respond to the reactions

Rehearsing what you’re going to say and sounding confident will make you feel confident, and confidence, especially when coming out to people who may not be the most open, is super important. Consider what the person’s reactions may be and how you can deal with them effectively, even if that means simply pointing them toward LGBTQ+ educational resources or stating that you don’t want to answer any more questions.

5.     Get support from LGBTQ+ services on campus

Surrounding yourself with a supportive community is a great way to find a sense of belonging and pride in your sexuality! LBGTQ+ services and the Rainbow Resource Center here at UMaine strive to empower the LGBTQ+ population here on campus, and can be found at Memorial Union, room 224 or on the UMaine website at maine.edu/lgbtq/ . LGBTQ+ services holds a variety of events throughout the year, as well as provides resources, education, and other support services.

6.     Don’t feel pressured to come out to everyone

There are some of my family and friends who I didn’t necessarily feel the need to come out to, and that’s perfectly okay! I didn’t want to formally come out to everyone, because, after all, heterosexual people are not expected to come out as straight. Tell who you feel comfortable telling, and if you don’t go out of your way to tell someone your sexuality, that doesn’t mean you’re not still proud! What’s most important is that you don’t feel like you’re hiding your authentic self.

7.     Don’t feel obligated to prove your sexuality

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Wait, you have a boyfriend? So, you’re straight now??”, or “Wow, you don’t even look gay!” Your sexuality is your own, so forget stereotypes, you have nothing to prove!