Coming out of the closet is a term used to describe when an LGBTQ+ person shares their sexual orientation and/or gender identity with other people. A person does not come out just once in their life, but regularly throughout their lifetime, sometimes in explicit ways and sometimes more subtly.
Every LGBTQ+ person comes out in their own way. There is no ‘correct’ way or time to come out. Everyone’s journey is different, and everyone should be empowered to only share their LGBTQ+ identity when/if they feel safe and comfortable to do so, and in whatever way they feel best works for them. Some people choose to come out in a way that is loud and proud, while others may choose to never come out at all. It’s each person’s own choice!
Our society is rife with prejudice, and many LGBTQ+ people experience prejudice from a very young age. Everyoneshould be empowered to come out, but some potential barriers may be:
We live in a society that not only automatically assumes that everyone is straight and cis, but actively erases the existence of LGBTQ+ identities. This is also known as heteronormativity and cisnormativity, systems of oppression that shape social consciousness and institutions in ways that exclude LGBTQ+ people. So straight and cis people don’t need to come out, everyone has already accurately assumed their identities, while LGBTQ+ people have to share their identities in order to live their truth.
Anti-LGBTQ+ hate and hate crimes are on a scary rise in this country. In order to support someone with coming out, it can help to be openly pro-LGBTQ+ and to fight against anti-LGBTQ+ hate wherever it occurs. This can help those around you know that you are affirming and supportive. Then, if they come out to you, be sure to be encouraging and celebrate their identities. At the end of the day, just be kind. #IChooseKindness