Choosing to come out to family and friends can be a difficult decision at any age. You may find yourself wondering what you have to gain from telling those closest to you that you don’t identify as cis or heterosexual. Let’s look at the benefits and risks of coming out and how to adapt with both of them.
Benefits and Risks of Coming Out
The Cost/Benefit Analysis
The truth is that the answer is different for each person. You will have to do your own cost/benefit analysis in order to determine when and if you are going to come out to certain people.
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to worry. And in fact, you wouldn’t have to come out at all because there wouldn’t be this automatic expectation of cis heterosexuality.
In reality, coming out can be an incredibly freeing experience that allows you to recognize and be your complete self. It can also be isolating and even dangerous depending on your circumstances, which is why you are the only person who can make this decision.
Cultural norms are always evolving, and while politics have recently demonstrated a flair for the regressive, the dominant culture trends suggest a more progressive stance in much of the country.
Even so, it is still very possible that you will encounter family members and friends who will not understand your identity and your choices. If their views are particularly homophobic or transphobic, coming out could put a serious wedge in your relationship.
From dismissive responses to outright violence, negative reactions to coming out can vary greatly. If you think there is the slightest possibility that the people you want to tell will react negatively, then you should consider those risks and the strategies you would like to use.
Making a Personal Decision
Ultimately, this is your life. You can choose to stay closeted with those people, go no contact, or announce who you are and deal with it from there. Whatever your choice, it is imperative that you are safe and have somewhere to go if coming out doesn’t go to plan.
Asking for Help
If you are concerned about how family or friends will react to you going out, then you should discuss it with a trained therapist or counselor. A therapist specializing in sexual and gender minority services in Los Angeles can be a particularly strong tool.
Pretending to be something you’re not is an exhausting experience. You have to constantly police what you do and say to avoid alluding to your real self.
Protecting Your Mental Health
Whether you like it or not, your denial of who you are will eventually cause the development of negative internalized perceptions of yourself that will only fester with time.
Treating Your Mental Health
If you are already struggling with this feeling, then cognitive behavioral therapy in Los Angeles can help. However, it is better for your mental and physical health to just be true to who you are from the beginning.
Building Your Community
Coming out can give you access to support systems that don’t require you to mask who you are. It can give you a freedom of movement that allows you to stop worrying about who sees you where, etc. It can give you a community of people with similar experiences and interests.
The Beauty of You
Coming out allows you to reveal that the dirty secret you thought you were keeping is actually this beautiful thing, your authentic self.
Even if you aren’t ready to come out with everyone right away, you should talk to a therapist or a counselor to ensure that your happiness and health are protected until the time that you are ready to be “out” to everyone if that is something you even want.