Suggested Do’s and Dont’s Of Coming Out
Coming out to parents and friends is rarely easy, so planning your strategy in advance can make things go much more smoothly. Remember that your fears and their fears will trigger reactions so stay cool and take things easy… the following are some suggested "do's" and "don'ts" from some counselors and researchers… Good luck!
- The time you have decided on for disclosure should have its own place and setting free of all other distractions.
- Try to choose a time when things are going well in the family or with your friends.
- Figure out how you feel about being gay/lesbian/bi/trans* etc - perhaps talk it over with another gay/lesbian/bi/trans* person first…this will make it easier to be clear and honest.
- Get a realistic fix on your relationship with your family/friends; clarify what you need from them.
- Actively prepare for your disclosure. Try role-playing the exchange or interactions with friends.
- Consider questions that might arise. Also be prepared to answer other questions… read and be aware.
- Remember that parents/friends might not know anything about being gay/lesbian etc.
- Prepare your parents/friends by saying something like "I want to talk to you about something that's really important to all of us…" Be positive and assertive (not aggressive!).
- Make the disclosure of where you are at in as positive a way as possible… stay clear of shock tactics.
- Make it clear you're not just talking about sex, but also about a feeling and caring for people of the same gender…what you like and appreciate.
- Let your parents/friends know you are willing to give them time to adjust… there is plenty of time.
- Follow up the initial disclosure by providing reading materials (the ‘Someone You Love’ booklet, info from PFLAG or books) on the subject. Don't expect them to read the information straight away.
- Remember that your parents have been through a lot in their life. If you can handle your sexual identity as an adolescent/young adult they can handle it as an adult…it's not your responsibility to make it easier for anyone but you!
- Hope for the best and prepare for the worst scenario…if you can face the worst the rest will be easy.
- Don't try to come out when something else important is going on in the family - weddings, funerals, birthdays, Christmas etc.
- Don't over-sensationalise the news for shock or attention seeking value - it doesn't work at all! You'll alienate everyone.
- Don't come out to your parents/friends if you're angry with them and disclosing your sexuality would be a way of punishing them.
- Don't expect others to see it the way you do…even if you explain your gay/lesbian/bi sexuality or trans*/genderqueer gender carefully and positively, your parents/friends may not jump for joy!
- Don't try to force more information on your parents/friends than they are ready for at any given time…this will only confuse and frustrate them.
- Don't hang around if their response is abusive or put-downs…leave as soon as possible without causing a 'scene' and catch up with a gay/lesbian/bi/trans* friend who you might have organised before hand to be ready for debriefing just in case…or phone the Gay & Lesbian Community Services counselling line (08 9420 7201, 7-10pm weeknights) and talk it over. Take a look at www.glcs.org.au
- Don't imagine, if things go badly at first, that it will be like that forever…things generally get better with time.