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How Do I Know When to Come Out?

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question what's the average age people come out

A question about coming out submitted anonymously to Ellen.

Image (c) Ellen Friedrichs
Question: How Do I Know When to Come Out?
Even if you are comfortable announcing your sexual orientation, deciding when and how to come out can be tough. The most important thing to do is to make sure that you will be safe. Knowing that you have someone to support you can also make a huge difference in your experience.
Answer:

When and how to come out is a big concern for GLBT teens. Though TV shows and movies may make it seem as if people come out in one big dramatic announcement, maybe made over the school's PA system, or posted on Facebook, for most people coming out is more of a process.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want to tell people individually or in a group?
  • Who do you want to tell; close friends, someone who you know is GLBT, family, a counselor? Have you thought about the risks or benefits to each?
  • Do you have support and is there one person who you are confident will react positively when you come out?
  • Are you prepared to deal with a possible negative reaction? Do you know who to turn to if this happens?
  • Have you considered what you will do if your parents stop supporting you financially after you come out?
  • Do you want to come out when there is a specific reason,like you are dating someone or want to go to gay pride?
  • Do you want to come out before you have a specific reason, so that no one will be surprised that you want to go to the gay prom or hang out at the GLBT Community Center?

Here are a few tips:

  • Pick a time when you, or the person you are coming out to, won't be distracted or tired.
  • Don't come out in the middle of a fight, or an already tense conversation.
  • Some teens find that having a conversation in a public place is a good idea because people are more likely to keep their emotions in check publicly.
  • If you are concerned about your parents' reaction, consider coming out to a supportive relative, or other adult, first. Ask that person if he or she would be there when you come out to mom and dad.

Don't ever feel pressured to come out before you are ready. The most important thing is to make sure that you will be safe and supported. Good luck!

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