How To Start The Decade Out of the Closet
By Lewis Oakley
January 30, 2020
Photo credit: Unsplash/George Kedenburg III
A new decade provides new opportunities, and for those who are in the closet about their sexuality, the start of 2020 may be just the motivation they need to come out.
Many LGBTI people may be tiring of acting the part of a straight character for their nearest and dearest. However making the decision to come out and following through can be a traumatic time for people.
As someone who put coming out off for years I can relate. I forced myself to come out by writing an article. I had a week to tell my family before they would read about it themselves in the news. Not everyone has that option.
Some non-LGBTI people may wonder what the big deal is about coming out? The motivation is different for everyone, personally, I was tired of having to tell lies and worrying people might find out the truth.
I also realized I was ready to argue with anyone that had an issue with who I found hot. More importantly, for bisexuals in particular — staying closeted can be dangerous. Research shows that the stress of concealment contributes to disrupted relationships, feelings of shame and guilt, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
And it’s not hard to see why, being in a situation where you feel the most important people in your life would dislike you if they knew the truth is depressing.
The truth is, every coming out story is different, there is no cheat sheet, everyone has different factors to deal with. Some have to consider their families' religious beliefs, or cultural differences and some have to worry about what Pat down the street might think.
With that said, here are a few things I’d recommend you try:
It’s often hard to come out to people we have established relationships with, friends, family, colleagues. They all have a narrative and perception of us that we often don’t want to shatter. That’s why trialing coming out with strangers can be such an effective tool as a first step on the way out. It’s safe because these people have absolutely no way to contact you again and no impact on your life.
When you come out to a stranger, one of two things will happen. You may have a good reaction, which will be reaffirming for you and give fuel to your fire with coming out to others.
Alternatively, you may have a negative reaction, while disheartening this can be useful — because you will be ready for it next time. I’ve certainly experienced being caught off guard when someone has made anti-bi comments and not said anything at the time, leading to me spend weeks arguing with them in my head and deciding what I "should" have said. The beauty is the next person to make comments like that didn’t see me coming as I took their head off, defending myself was like a reflex.
Find others like you
With only 12% of bi men out of the closet, this can be a tricky one for many bi people. But finding others like you is a brilliant way to boost confidence in yourself.
Seeing how others handle their sexuality, sharing experiences and tips can be empowering. There is also a lot to be said for watching other people who walk with pride and and how inspiring it can be to watch people comfortable in their own skin.
How to be comfortable and proud of your sexuality is not taught in schools so you’re going to have to go out and find these people yourself.
If you struggle to meet people in person there are some great social media accounts such as @fortheloveofqueers that show LGBTI people living their best lives.
Be out to yourself
As someone who has been out for years all I can say is being out of the closet, being real to those I care about and knowing people genuinely like me for me not a character I’m playing for them feels like a building has been lifted off me. And I hope you can have that too.
The motivation I found came from calling everyone’s bluff. It came from me accepting and liking myself and knowing I’d rather not have people with an issue with it in my life, no matter how long I’d known them or how much DNA we shared. It strengthens your hand, knowing that you are willing to drop people from your life if they want to make you feel bad about who you are. Yes, they may have questions and you’re going to have to answer them. But once the questions are answered folks should be onboard, or at least on a short path to acceptance.
That can only happen if you believe in yourself and your sexuality without hesitation or reservation. Knowing that you are right and you deserve respect. It's character building, and you’ve got this!