Ask yourself these questions about the people you’re thinking of coming out to, then answer them honestly, thoughtfully & thoroughly,
- After each and every question ask yourself “What else?” Until you literally can’t think of anything else to add to that particular answer.
- Why is this person who you want to come out to, important to you?
- What is it about you, that you want them to know? (Go beyond the ‘coming out’ information, and think about what else it is about you that you want them to know after you come out)
- Why is it important to you that they know this about you?
- How are you hoping your relationship with this person will look, after this revelation?
- What clues might you notice that would confirm for you that it is the right time to come out to this person?
- How would you know that telling them really was the right decision, after you’ve done it?
- What do you know about them that gives you hope that, though this revelation might be tough, & they may take it hard at first, they will eventually be able to come through for you?
- What about you, do you hope this person is able to remind themselves of, as they process this possibly tough information?
- How might you respond to a tough reaction they may have, that may help remind them of these amazing things about you?
- If this is difficult for them to hear, and they don’t process it as fast as you hope they will, what is the best possible way for you to respond to the situation between now and the time that it gets easier?
- Having answered all of these questions, on a scale from 0-10, where 10 is you feel totally ready and safe to come out to this person, and 0 is the opposite, where are you now?
- How would you know it moved up, even just a little bit?
- What number would you need to be, on the day you do come out?
Was this helpful? Let me know here or at my email below
Rebekka Ouer, LCSW
Sometimes, in the process of self-discovery, folks in the LGBT community make realizations about their lives that require some painful honesty with the people that they love most. I frequently have conversations in my counseling office with individuals who are carefully navigating their steps towards a preferred future that they know will be incredibly difficult for some of the closest people in their lives. For instance, when someone in a heterosexual relationship can no longer deny that they are gay, or when someone in a long term relationship of any kind, can no longer deny that they are trans.
Whenever someone comes into my office at the tipping point this kind of difficult realization, I think that the best, most respectful place for me to be, is behind them, asking questions directed at the destination they are working towards. Why do I do that? Well…this quote sums it up best, I think:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I firmly believe that imagining the details of your destination is crucial when you’re looking to gain the courage to take the next small step towards it, especially when those steps involve saying or doing difficult things to the one’s you love most.
So I don’t give a lot of advice, or shine a light on a difficult step pointing out how hard it will be to take. Instead I choose to stand behind you, out of your way, and shine a light on the destination, knowing that because that truly is where you yearn to go, you will have no choice but to continue moving towards it.
Coming out as gay or lesbian is a process, and it means different things to each individual who goes through it. When a client comes into my office struggling with the coming out process, I typically take them through an exercise that creates a clear understanding of what they REALLY want, which is typically not to ‘come out’ per say, but to experience the positive IMPACTS of coming out.
So, if you are struggling with coming out, think about what positive impact coming out might have on your life, and make a list of ways you would notice those impacts. Maybe you’ll find that you can do some of those things on your list without taking a leap you’re not ready for yet, and those things may in-turn, help you gain the strength you need to take that leap.
Want an example to start with? Here is an example of a small list of typical ‘impacts’ clients say they think will occur as a result of coming out to themselves, and others. (keep in mind, my clients and I make lists of at least 25, and usually more…the more details you give, the more likely you are to notice the progress you eventually make.)
Signs of the positive impacts coming out might have:
1. Feeling more confidant
2. being more social with coworkers and friends
3. eating healthier
4. being honest about my weekend plans to folks who ask
5. looking people in the eye more
6. laughing more with acquaintances
7. walking taller at work or around town
8. smiling more
9. being more focused at work, getting more done
10. feeling calmer throughout the day
11. holding hands with my spouse in public more often
12. working out regularly
Still feeling a bit stuck?
Call me, I’m happy to help you find your unique solutions.
Rebekka Ouer, LMSW
Dallas Rainbow Counseling