For many LGBTQ individuals, coming out of the closet can feel like the most stressful thing that they have ever had to do. Although, coming out can be a liberating and an empowering act, the process can be quite challenging for a lot of individuals. Studies have shown that both being in and coming out of the closet can impact one’s mental health, and have been associated with depression and anxiety.
Science has shown that coming out of the closet may not only improve your mental health, but also your physical well-being. Keeping your sexual orientation hidden can cause you to lose out on genuine happiness or a healthy lifestyle. When you feel secure and have a safe place to celebrate your sexual identity, it is more rewarding. In that sense, communities that support LGBTQ individuals can be an important wellness factor.
Although, a lot of individuals remain “closeted” because they feel that it shields them from the violence, rejection, bullying, and discrimination that is still common in many parts of the world, being closeted can take a toll on your mental well-being. Coming out of the closet does not have to be so stressful. Although, there is no one-size-fits-all way to deal with the stress of coming out, here are some things that can lighten the burden and ease your way into a healthier life.
Don’t Feel Pressured
Everyone should come out at their own time. Avoid feeling the pressure to come out because others are doing it. You may feel pressured to tell your loved ones or those around you that you are lesbian, gay, or bisexual before you are ready. Don’t. Coming out of the closet is about you and no one else. If you start to think about pleasing others, you will lose sight of what really matters. Focus on yourself and how coming out will help you and your mental and physical health.
Find a Safe Space
We live in a world where there is discrimination and hate everywhere. Be sure to find a safe space when you are coming out. Find a community that is accepting and supportive to help you through the process to becoming your authentic self. Sometimes, this community is your family, a lot of times, your family are the opposite of supportive. Remember, this is about you. Find a space where you feel safe and accepted for who you are.
Reveal It However You Want
Want to make it a big announcement, social media post, written in sky, or simply telling people one by one, or just be out one day? It is all up to you. Making a big announcement is a classic. You sit everyone you love down, take a deep breath, and tell them all at once. It will still be difficult, no doubt, but once you’ve ripped off the band-aid, you can then get on with your life. It does not matter how you do it, there is no correct way to come out of the closet. Remember that other’s hostility is not your problem. It is not your job to please other people or stay in the closet to protect them.
Coming Out Is Not an Obligation
Ultimately, it is your decision to make, and you don’t have to come out at all. If you feel that at a particular time, coming out is not worth the potential risk to your safety or livelihood, you’re not obligated to do so. Whatever decision makes you feel the most comfortable and safe is probably the right decision for you, and can be revisited when circumstances change.