Trevor Support Center

Coming Out

No one can define who you are, except for you!

Coming out is when a person decides to reveal an important part of who they are with someone in their life. For many LGBTQ people, this involves sharing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Unfortunately, coming out isn’t always easy. After thinking it through you may decide not to come out – and that’s ok too. Many people decide not to for different reasons. Remember, there isn’t one right way to come out, and it’s YOUR choice.

You can download the full guide by clicking HERE.
To read the guide online, click the cover picture below!

“Coming Out As You” Worksheets:
The Coming Out Constellation is also great way to help organize your thoughts. You can also write out the pros and cons you might feel about coming out. Each arm of the star matches up with chapter questions from “Coming Out As You.” Click HERE to download the Constellation!

The Spectrum can help you visualize your sexual orientation and gender identity. These things can be fluid, and this worksheet can help you visualize your identity at any given time. Click HERE to download the Spectrum! There are also some advanced worksheets out there that can help too, like The Gender UnicornThe Gender Book, and Gender World.

FAQ

  1. I want to come out to my family and friends, but I am really scared. Should I do it? How do I know if I’m ready?
  2. I finally came out to my parents! They said it didn’t change how they saw me, or how they would treat me. Well, they kept their word – but now it feels like I never came out to them at all! Is there something I should say or do, or am I just being too sensitive?
  3. I already came out at my high school and my friends were super supportive, but next year I am going to college in another state. Does this mean I have to come out again?

Question:
1. I want to come out to my family and friends, but I am really scared. Should I do it? How do I know if I’m ready?

Answer:
Coming out can be a scary process for many people. You aren’t alone in feeling worried, anxious, or afraid. The first thing we’d recommend is reading through The Trevor Project’s “Coming Out As You” guide for young people. It’s a great resource that you can read online or download as a PDF file, and it can really help you navigate your coming out experience in a safe, thoughtful way. As you weigh the pros and cons of coming out, remember that there’s no wrong way, or right time, to come out. It’s your decision, and no one else’s.

There are many positives to coming out to the people around us. It can let people in your life know about an important part of your life, and help you to feel less alone by allowing you to meet new friends or even finding someone to date. However, there are also some risks to coming out, especially if you worry that your friends and family might not be accepting.

If you still live with your parents, consider whether or not they will react in a potentially dangerous or harmful way. Would you worry about being kicked out of the house if they knew how you identify? Is there somewhere safe you can go if you need to remove yourself from the situation? The most important thing is for you to stay safe, and know that any negative reactions your friends or parents might have are not your fault – they’re about them, not you.

Here are some sections from “Coming Out As You” that could really help:

SUPPORT (Pages 11-13): This section includes tips for figuring out how people might react to your coming out news, and offers ideas on how to fill in your family.

ENVIRONMENT (Pages 14-16): Think about when and where you might want to come out. Also, consider how you might want to come out if you’re still in school.

INTERESTS AND SELF-CARE (Page 17-21): Make sure you stay safe during your coming out process by taking care of yourself, practicing self-care, understanding the warning signs of suicide, and remembering what else makes you so amazing and unique!

You can view the guide online at TheTrevorProject.org/YOU or click HERE to download it.

If you ever want a supportive person to talk to, or need help, please don’t hesitate to call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386 – it’s available 24/7, no matter what. You are not alone!

Question:
2. I finally came out to my parents! They said it didn’t change how they saw me, or how they would treat me. Well, they kept their word – but now it feels like I never came out to them at all! Is there something I should say or do, or am I just being too sensitive?

Answer:
Congratulations on coming out to your parents! It takes tremendous courage to recognize who you are, and decide to tell others about your identity. We’re glad to hear that they were supportive of your news.

Based on what your parents said about treating you the same, you might not have anything to worry about. In fact, many other LGBTQ people would love to have a family like yours who accepts them for who they are! Still, it can be hard when it feels like nothing has changed after such important information has been shared. It may make us think that they didn’t really care, or that they aren’t respecting the new part of our identity.

Often times our parents go through their own coming out process, just like you did when you were figuring out how you felt about your own identity. They might be trying to show their support by making a conscious effort not to let your sexuality define you. Or, maybe they don’t know what to say, or how to bring up their feelings with you. Sometimes, after a child comes out, parents just don’t know what to do next. It might be a good idea to have a check-in conversation with them to see how they’re feeling, and to share your concerns. They might be surprised to hear that their behavior is making you worry and feel confused.

We know it’s not always easy, but sometimes having a safe and open honest conversation is the best way to clear things up. If you think they need some more help to be truly supportive, you might consider giving them some resources to learn more about the LGBTQ community.

Question:
3. I already came out at my high school and my friends were super supportive, but next year I am going to college in another state. Does this mean I have to come out again?

Answer:
One thing a lot of people think about the coming out experience is that once it happens, you never have to worry about it again. As you are starting to see, though, coming out is an ongoing process and happens at many different stages of your life. You may not want to come out to everyone you know all at one time, and that is completely normal. No matter what, the most important thing is to make a decision that supports your best interest and safety.

Before you get to school, see what you can find out about their counseling center. School counselors are often great resources that help students through all kinds of concerns. They’re also bound by certain rules of ethical guidelines, standards and confidentiality, so it may be a good safe place to come out for the first time if you need support. If you feel unsafe talking to the school counseling center, see if there is a residence life or wellness center available that might offer a more diverse range of resources. Every student should be able to go to school and feel safe, while expressing who they truly are.

Does your new school have a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) or LGBTQ student group? If so, you may want to consider attending a meeting, to speak with other LGBTQ students and allies. If there isn’t anything on your campus, go to www.GLSEN.org to find out more about GSAs and other school-related topics. You may even be inspired to start your own group in the future!

Also, you mentioned that you still have friends who accept you for who you are. Remember, those friendships aren’t going anywhere! You can use them for support even after you go off to college. They are just a phone-call, chat, or text message away – and so is The Trevor Project. If you ever feel alone, need help, or want someone safe to talk to, we’re here 24/7 through the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386. You can also chat with us at TrevorChat.org during select hours. Good luck at your new school!

Resources

Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.