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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coming Out to Your Friends As Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual

The words 'coming out' has different meaning for different people. For some men and women, identifying as a lesbian or gay means self acceptance, acknowledging that they are attracted to people of the same sex and want to develop sexual, romantic relationships with them. For others, it means, letting people they care about know that they are not heterosexual; that it is necessary to verbalize a word that lets them know you're different. Most importantly for most, it's because they want to be truthful with their friends and not hold any secrets. Whatever your reasons, identifying as a lesbian or gay man can be a liberating and even euphoric experience.
Coming out, can be a lengthy painful process, or a short, celebratory one, it really depends on your unique circumstances and your mindset. Most North American societies have laws that protect lesbians and gays however, many women and men still remain in the 'closet' mainly due to fears of how others will react.
These thoughts may be prevalent in your mind: 

  • Will they stop being my friend?
  • Will they stop talking to me?
  • Will they tell everyone they know?
The following suggestions may help you come out to your friend:
Thinking about all the possible scenarios and outcomes can be stressful and create a lot of anxiety. Begin to change your way of thinking from the negative to the positive. Visualize how you will come out to a friend and visualize their positive response to you. Do this often and until you feel comfortable and at ease with the notion of being out to your friend.
Engage Conversation
Engage your friend in a discussion about a lesbian or gay issue, for example: What do you think of Pride? How do you feel about lesbian/gay marriages becoming legal in NY (first lesbian couple to wed, Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd).
Listen to your friend, accept whatever opinion he or she expresses to you, then add your opinion, making sure you express a favourable viewpoint. Do not over talk, change conversations if it starts getting heated. If not, and your friend shows a lot of acceptance in relation to the lesbian/gay theme of your discussion, than you know that your friend may accept you well.
Watch a Movie
Today there are many movies or TV shows, that have a gay/lesbian theme, Imagine Me and You (for women), Priest (for men). Ask your friend to see one with you. Later, over a coffee or tea talk about the movie, and specifically the gay/lesbian character. Make sure you do not judge your friend, and always present a positive view of the film and it's lesbian/gay content.
Once you start getting positive responses from your friend, you can start bringing the issue closer to home by initiating a discussion about someone you know that is lesbian or gay. Talk about this person in a positive way, referring to how others have accepted his or her's sexual orientation.
Come Out
One day, and do not plan the day, come out as a lesbian or gay man to your friend. Don't plan the day or the time, as this may create anxiety. However, make up your mind that you will be coming out to your friend when the opportunity presents itself. Make sure you're doing something fun, and that you're both in a good mood. The words you use to come out are entirely up to you, some like to say: "I'm a lesbian, I am gay" ` I now identify as lesbian, I now identify as gay", "I'm attracted to women,`` I am attracted to men" " I prefer to only date women/men" "I am a gay woman", "I am bisexual" and so forth. Whatever manner you choose, do it with confidence and with the certainty that you'll be accepted, most likely your friend will feel your positive energy and will accept you wholeheartedly.
Esmeralda Carvalho is a writer for Lesbian Moms Today, a website for lesbian moms and their families to connect, talk about parenting, family, relationship, healthy living, films, travel and events.
She has an Honours BA in Sociology and Psychology, has founded a lesbian/gay association and has chaired various committees on lesbian/gay issues, parenting and health.

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