Coming out checklist
If you're considering coming out then you have to be prepared to handle the impact it will have on your life. Here are some of the things to think about first.
There is no set time as to how long you should wait. Gay men and women who have come out will each have different experiences, but most will have been fairly confident about their sexuality first. So ask yourself if this is something you've been thinking about for a long time, or a sudden urge that you haven't had a chance to think through. Because basically once you're out, it's very difficult to get back in.
Who shall I tell?
Kick off by confiding in someone you trust who can give you the support and understanding you need to tell others. Also use the opportunity to talk through the way you feel with them. If this is first time you've ever discussed your sexuality, it might help you get a clearer perspective on things.
What shall I say?
There is no script, but if you can come out with honesty and openness, and you show respect for the person you're telling, then at the very least you can expect a similar response. Just be aware that you don't have to justify your sexuality to anyone but yourself.
What if they react badly?
Sadly, this is something you should always be prepared for. Whether it's shock or anti-gay sentiment that's prompted a negative response, try to stay calm. Stress that being gay doesn't make you any different as an individual, and that essentially you're still the same person as you were before you came out. All that's changed is their perception of you, so don't despair if at first they don't respond as you had hoped. Attitudes can often be changed, and you may find they just need some time to get their head around things. If you are worried about violence or being thrown out of your home, make sure in advance that a friend can put you up.
What will coming out mean to me?
It can mean as much or as little as you want. What's important is that your comfortable with your sexuality, and confident that coming out is the right step for you to take. If you'd like to talk to someone about it anonymously and in confidence, there are various helplines and support services available.
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