Stories and Commentary
Coming Out: Again and Again and Again
Coming Out: Parents Guide to Supporting Your Gay Teen
Ellen Degeneres: It's Scary to Say I'm Gay Out Loud
Ellen Page: It's So Toxic Just to Be Hiding
Advice: Coming out
as a Lesbian
People Who Should Know You're Gay
Girl Comes Out to Parents With a Cake
Dad's Note to Son About Coming Out
What Does it Mean to Come
About His Gay Son
Stages of Coming Out
Senator Portman's Gay Son Inspires Father's Change of Heart
Best Coming Out
10 Worst Ways to
Advantages of Not Coming Out
High School Senior Comes Out to Her Entire School
Coming Out Story of Preacher's Son
"I wanted to be out so
I could relax and be me."
-Melissa Etheridge / Musician
The term “coming out”
refers to the life-long process in developing a positive identity as a
gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person. It is not something that
just happens one day; it is an ongoing process of several steps. First,
the person must accept him/herself, and be somewhat comfortable with the
fact he/she is gay. Next, the person usually tells his/her closest
friend or group of friends to “test” how comfortable hey might be with
disclosure. Another step is when the person might find a partner or
start dating someone. Then come the most difficult step, in many cases,
when the person decides to tell his/her parents, other family members,
This process is very long and difficult struggle for many people since
they have to confront many opposing ideas and homophobic attitudes. Many
people first need to struggle with misinformation and stereotypes that
are taught them while growing up. Before someone can feel good about who
he/she is, the person will need to challenge his/her own attitudes and
move from wherever the person is on the homophobic continuum, which
might include feelings of repulsion, pity, and/or tolerance, to feelings
of appreciation and admiration. After many years of painful work to
develop a positive identity and attitude, many will then decided whom to
tell that they are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender.
"The world changes in
direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about
-Armistead Maupin / Writer
"When my friends and I
came out in college, the other students took an obvious dislike to us.
It was hateful. horrible rhetoric - and divisive. I lost some friends.
I felt like they just couldn't step up to the plate. It was very hard -
really hard - to deal with that, and to tell them that they were not
being very supportive. You learn many valuable lessons about what
friendship means. It's those first five minutes in coming out to your
friends and acquaintances that are really the hardest. But after that -
things get better than before. The most important thing you can do is
come out. People's hearts have to change - and when a person meets
someone who is gay, that more than anything seems to make them
understand and take on new attitudes."
-Suzanne Westenhofer / Comedian
In the Closet
Being "In the Closet" has been described
as "hiding your true self," "denying your real identity," and
"suppressing your authenticity." To be closeted about your sexual
orientation is to restrain yourself from revealing an important aspect
of your nature.
what does it feel like to be closeted?
It has been described as "exhausting," "stressful," "a fulltime job,"
and "keeping yourself in check at all times." It takes a lot of
time and energy to constantly hide certain aspects of your self.
Here are some collected comments:
"When I was fully
in the closet, I always felt the need to make sure there was no possible
way no one would ever find out. That's why I'm happy I came out, even if
it's just a few people."
“It's a very exhausting task. The majority of my family is aware of it
(with the exception of distant relatives), all of my friends, and one or
two of my co-workers. It's not a problem if people find out, or come to
terms with knowing. I tell who I want to tell, and I don't tell who I
don't want to tell.”
“Holding onto shame takes a lot of energy. And being in the closet is
about being in shame; not loving ourselves and not believing that others
will love us, or allow us to be part of their lives. It takes a lot of
energy to maintain a counterfeit persona, to fit in when you
aren't being authentic. It's a lot easier being who you really are.”
feel like I am constantly watching my behavior around others. For some
reason I'm not comfortable telling anyone I know just yet.”
“Every day is literally a struggle and I feel like I'm being held back
by being in the closet.”
does eat away at you consistently. You don't really realize how much
time and energy you spend trying to hide yourself on a daily basis until
you retrospectively look at it once you've come out. Now that I’m out,
I'm not trying to hide it I feel a lot better.”
“Being in the closet definitely feels like being in a full time job.
It's because we're all reflecting on something that we think might not
be taken in a positive light or be mocked or even worse, yet a lot of
people now will be supportive for the most part. Then there's trying to
not give away any clues that may be a bit suspicious to everyone else.
It's also such a major personal thing that is rather sensitive at the
same time, so that doesn't help.”
“Being in the closet is a full time job. It's exhausting sometimes. I
just wish I could let myself relax and let my guard down about it, but I
feel that I have to watch every word I say, or where my eyes wander to.
But right now in middle school kids are jerks about that kinda stuff, so
I am waiting until High School until I tell anyone outside of my
have to watch what I’m saying and doing constantly. It’s so
home, I have to constantly be careful with my internet browser,
especially since I have nosy siblings always in my space. And then when
people talk about their significant others, I have to try to sidestep
the question as to not bring attention to myself. Also, having to hear
people's annoying gay jokes is frustrating because then I have to
pretend that I don't care or people will get suspicious.”
What It's Like to be in the Closet
Coming Out at Work
What Does it Mean to Come
Stages of Coming Out
NY Times: Anderson Cooper's Coming Out Story
Adam Lambert Comes
Wikipedia: Coming Out
To Anybody Still in the Closet, Listen Up
Best Coming Out
Dad's Note to Son About Coming Out
Girl Comes Out to Parents With Help From a Cake
Coming Out: Gaining Confidence From God
Coming Out: A Cadet With Questions
Coming Out: Alone Among Many
Coming Out: Finding Joy in Difference
Coming Out: I Told Them I'm Transgender
The Coming Out
The Cass Model (Vivian Cass, 1984) is one of the more well-known and
widely used models for coming out and LGB identity development. It is
very common for individuals to move from one stage to another out of the
listed order or even be in more than one stage depending on the
situation. Individuals often move back and forth between stages and are
sometimes at a midway point between stages. The model should be thought
of more as a continuum that people can move about freely. It should
also be noted that the primary participants in Cass’ original study were
white gay men. Thus, this model should not be assumed to be equally
applicable to gay and lesbian people of color, bisexual or transgender
people, and women.
Identity Confusion: "Could I be gay?" Person is beginning to wonder if
"homosexuality" is personally relevant. Denial and confusion is
Task: Who am I? - Accept, Deny, Reject.
Possible Responses: Will avoid information about lesbians and gays;
inhibit behavior; deny homosexuality ("experimenting," "an accident,"
"just drunk"). Males: May keep emotional involvement separate from
sexual contact; Females: May have deep relationships that are
non-sexual, though strongly emotional.
Possible Needs: Exploration of internal positive and negative judgments.
To be uncertain regarding sexual identity. May find support in knowing
that sexual behavior occurs along a spectrum. Permission and
encouragement to explore
identity as a normal experience (like career identity, and social
2. Identity Comparison: "Maybe this does apply to me." Will accept the
may be gay. Self-alienation becomes isolation.
Task: Deal with social alienation.
Possible Responses: Begins to grieve for losses
may experience by
embracing their sexual orientation. May compartmentalize own sexuality.
Accepts lesbian, gay definition of behavior but maintains "heterosexual"
identity of self. Tells oneself, “I'm just in love with this particular
Possible Needs: Important that the person develops own definitions. Will
need information about sexual identity, LGB community resources,
encouragement to talk about loss of heterosexual life expectations. May
need to keep some "heterosexual" identity (it is not an all or none
3. Identity Tolerance: "I'm not the only one." Accepts the probability
of being homosexual and recognizes sexual, social, emotional needs that
go with being lesbian and gay. Increased commitment to being lesbian or
Task: Decrease social alienation by seeking out lesbians and gays.
Possible Responses: Beginning to have language to talk and think about
the issue. Accentuates difference between self and heterosexuals. Seeks
out lesbian and gay culture (positive contact leads to more positive
sense of self, negative contact leads to devaluation of the culture).
May try out variety of stereotypical roles.
Possible Needs: Be supported in exploring own shame feelings derived
from heterosexism, as well as external heterosexism. Receive support in
finding positive lesbian, gay community connections. It is
particularly important for the person to know community resources.
4. Identity Acceptance: "I will be okay." Accepts, rather than
tolerates, gay or lesbian self-image. There is
continuing and increased contact with the gay and lesbian culture.
Task: Deal with idea of no longer subscribing to society's norm.
Congruence between private and public self.
Possible Responses: Accepts gay or lesbian self identification. May
compartmentalize "gay life." Maintains less and less contact with
heterosexual community. Attempts to "fit in" within the gay and lesbian
community. Begins some selective disclosures of sexual identity. More
social coming out; more comfortable being seen with groups of men or
women that are identified as "gay." More realistic evaluation of
Possible Needs: Continue exploring loss of heterosexual life
expectations. Continue exploring internalized
"homophobia." Find support in making decisions about where, when, and to
whom he/she self-discloses.
Identity Pride: "I've got to let people know who I am!" Immerses self in
gay and lesbian culture. Less and less
involvement with heterosexual community. Us vs. Them quality to
Task: Deal with incongruent views of heterosexuals.
Possible Responses: Splits world into "gay" (good) and "straight" (bad).
Experiences disclosure crises with heterosexuals as
is less willing
to "blend in." Identifies gay culture as sole source of support.
Possible Needs: Receive support for exploring anger issues. Find support
for exploring issues of heterosexism. Develop skills for coping with
responses to disclosure of sexual. Resist being defensive.
6. Identity Synthesis: Develops holistic view of self. Defines self in
more than just terms of sexual orientation.
Task: Integrate gay and lesbian identity so that instead of being the
identity, it is on aspect of self.
Possible Responses: Continues to be angry at heterosexism, but with
decreased intensity. Allows trust of others to increase and build. Gay
and lesbian identity is integrated with all aspects of "self." Feels all
right to move out into the community and not simply define space
according to sexual orientation.
National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day is
an internationally-observed civil awareness day for
coming out and discussion about
issues. It is observed by members of the
LGBT communities and their supporters ("allies")
on October 11 every year. NCOD founders Dr. Rob Eichberg and Jean
O'Leary encouraged all people, of all sexual orientations, to "take your
next step" in living openly and powerfully on October 11th.
Wikipedia: National Coming Out Day
About Gay Life: National Coming Out Day
HRC: Event Ideas for
National Coming Out Day
Google News: National Coming Out Day
Preparing Yourself to Come Out
Have a serious talk with yourself. Clarify specifically
what you hope will happen as a result of disclosure and what you expect
will really happen. Without a clear purpose, your presentation of self
may be a scary and risky experience without an attainable objective.
Select the particular
person or persons to whom you wish to disclose. Tell the person(s) that
you want to share something important, that you want to have a serious
personal conversation. Although you cannot make someone ready to hear
what you have to say, you can create a situation in which the other
person feels ready for a serious personal conversation.
Select a time and a
place. Avoid situations that may result in a lack of time or privacy.
Neither you nor the other person can interact honestly and fully if he
does not feel there is enough situational privacy. Coming out is a
continuing process, not a hit and run bombing mission or something done
well in a crowded public place.
Keep your disclosure
clean. That is, don’t clutter it up with attempts to punish, cause
guilt or gain sympathy. Talk about yourself, your feelings and your
experiences. Stay with “I” statements. Being LGBT is no one’s fault.
What you as a person decide to do with your LGBT identity is your
Allow time for
surprise reactions. It is doubtful that you came into self-acceptance
overnight. Asking that another accept and appreciate you faster than you
have learned to appreciate yourself is self-defeating.
Be ready to clearly
identify learning resources that are available to the person. For
example, books, films, magazine articles, journals, counselors etc. As
your learning has taken time and energy, the “significant other” will
need time to digest your disclosure and ingest a new understanding.
An important step,
certainly not the last priority, is the setting up of a LGBT support
system. Participating in a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
support group can help prepare you for disclosure to significant others
in your life. It can also provide you with support and understanding
during and after the disclosure. If this type of group is not available
to you, having supportive friends, teachers, relatives, etc. is also a
good source of support for the coming out process.
Coming out in our
society is an endless process and being proud of being LGBT requires
constant affirmation of self.
Coming Out to Your Parents
Are you sure about your sexual orientation and/or gender
Don’t raise the issue unless you’re able to respond with confidence to
the question “Are you sure?” Confusion on your part will increase your
parents’ confusion and decrease their confidence in your conclusions.
If you do decide to come out before you are certain, you may have your
parents’ support in your period of confusion, but you may also have
pressure and their homophobia to contend with.
Are you comfortable with your sexual orientation and/or
If you’re wrestling with guilt and periods of depression,
you may be better off waiting to tell your parents. Coming out to them
may require tremendous energy on your part; it will require a reserve of
Do you have support?
In the event that your parents’ reaction devastates you,
there should be someone or a group that you can confidently turn to for
emotional support and strength. Maintaining your sense of self-worth is
Are you knowledgeable about homosexuality and gender
Your parents will probably respond based on a lifetime of
information from a homophobic society. If you’ve done some serious
reading on the subject, you’ll be able to assist them by sharing
reliable information and research.
What’s the emotional climate at home?
If you have the choice of when to tell, consider the
timing. Choose a time when they’re not dealing with such matters as the
death of a close friend, pending surgery, or the loss of a job.
Can you be patient?
Your parents will require time to deal with this
information if they haven’t considered it prior to your sharing.
What’s your motive for coming out now?
Hopefully, it is because you love them and are
uncomfortable with the distance you feel. Never come out in anger or
during an argument, using your sexuality as a weapon.
Do you have available resources?
Homosexuality is a subject most non-gay people know little
about. It can help to have available at least one of the following: a
book addressed to parents, a contact for the local or national Parents
and Friends of Lesbian and Gays, the name of a non-gay counselor who can
deal fairly with the issue.
Are you financially dependent on your parents?
If you suspect they are capable of withdrawing college
finances or forcing you out of the house, you should consider how to
best manage the possible consequences of coming out.
What is your general relationship with your parents?
If you’ve gotten along well and have always known their
love and shared your love for them in return then it is more likely
they’ll be able to deal with the issue in a positive way.
What is their moral/societal view?
Take into consideration what your parents generally believe
is morally and socially acceptable when deciding whether or not they
will be accepting of your sexuality.
Is this your decision?
Not everyone should come out to their parents. Don’t be
pressured into it if you’re not sure you’ll be better off by doing so.
Coming Out Resources
All Things Queer:
About Lesbian Life:
Real Coming Out
Coming Out Stories
About Gay Life:
of the Closet
12 Tips for
Coming Out of the Closet
When Someone Comes Out to You
Don’t judge. Regardless of your own personal or moral belief about LGBT
people, keep in mind that the person has made himself/herself vulnerable.
Simply listen to the person.
Acknowledge them. Let them know that you heard what they said and ask
open-ended questions to show that you are interested and care.
Recognize the trust. If someone voluntarily comes out to you
putting a lot of trust in you and has used a lot of courage. It can be
good to acknowledge that courage and trust.
Match their words. Remember that this is about how they identify. It
is important to use the same language that they use. If the person
identifies himself/herself as gay, then use the word “gay.” If
then use the word “queer.”
Mirror emotions. You should be mindful of their emotions concerning
coming out. If the person is happy, don’t talk about how difficult it
Don’t let sex be your guide. Don’t assume, just because someone
has had a same-sex sexual encounter, that the person identifies as gay.
Also don’t assume, just because someone identifies as gay, that the
person has had a same-sex sexual encounter.
Maintain contact. Let the person know that they are still important to
you. You don’t need to change the way you interact or how often you see
the person in the future.
Keep confidentiality. LGBT people face many forms of discrimination and
harassment in society. It is important to make sure to never share a
person’s identity unless it is with someone he/she has told you knows. A
good rule of thumb is, “if your not sure, don’t share.”
Give resources. When someone comes out to you, it is possible that
is already very knowledgeable about resources, but he/she also might not
know of any. Share what resources you have and make an active effort to
learn about new useful resources.
Just listen. The most important thing you can do is to listen. Being
LGBT isn’t a problem that needs solving or something that becomes easy
to deal with given just the right resource. LGBT identities are part of
who people are. When you listen to people tell you about their
identities, you learn more about who that person is.
Punny Coming out Story
story really takes the cake! It is about a unique and creative way
that one 15-year old girl came out to her parents. The girl's name is
Laurel and she left her parents a cake and a note.
Coming out to your
parents isn't usually easy, but Laurel
did her best to make the conversation a
piece of cake. Actually, make that a
whole cake. Laurel baked cake for
her parents as a way of announcing that
she is a lesbian. Loud and proud in
bright green frosting, the cake reads,
"I'm gay." Accompanying the cake
was a note:
parents, i'm gay. i've wanted to tell
you for a long time. i thought doing it
this way would be a piece of cake. i
hope you still love me. i mean, it's
hard not to love someone who baked you a
cake. all my friends know and still love
me. your acceptance would be the icing
on the cake. i hope you, much like
this cake, are not in tiers. i
hope we can look back on this and say
"boy, this one really takes the cake."
it gets batter. love, laurel
(sorry for so many puns).
The coming-out cake
did the job. Laurel reported, "My mom
saw it and cried of happiness. We hugged
and cried together. Then, we all ate the
cake and talked. I am very lucky to have
such supportive parents!" Her dad was
supportive, too. "My
dad saw the cake and came into me room
and hugged me and laughed," said Laurel,
"He said he loved me and the cake and
the letter and everything was perfect."
Yahoo: Girl Comes Out to Parents With Help From a Cake
Association for Lesbian
Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama