Only if you want to, and only when you’re ready. Don’t come out just because someone else thinks you should.
Hiding the fact that you’re GLBT is called “being in the closet.” Being open about it is called “coming out.” You can come out to one person, to friends and family only, or to everyone you know. It’s up to you. There’s no reason you have to come out if you aren’t ready.
Sometimes there are very good reasons not to come out. There are real risks in coming out. There are people who won’t accept you if you’re GLBT, people who will do and say terrible things. They could be our parents or your friends or your classmates or our teachers, people you love or depend on for financial help, companionship, encouragement, or other support.
There are also very good reasons, however, to let some people know that you’re not straight. Hiding your sexual orientation or gender identity keeps the important people in your life from knowing about a big part of you.
By coming out you can live with integrity, begin building community and forming healthy relationships. At some point, many GLBT people find that the loneliness and isolation of keeping a secret is worse than any fear of coming out.
Whatever your reasons for thinking you should or shouldn’t come out, it’s your decision and no one else’s. It’s also one you should take at your own speed.
Before you come out to others, you have to come out to yourself. That means not only knowing you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, but being comfortable with being GLBT, and being sure of who you are as a person.
Keep in mind that knowing you’re GLBT is just being aware of one more piece of who you are. You’re the same person you were before; you just know more about yourself. A lot of GLBT youth have learned to say to themselves,” I’m not straight and that’s OK.”
Before you come out, you might want to be educated about homosexuality, bisexuality and gender identity for your own information and because many people will have wrong ideas. You’ll feel proud to know the facts if someone ask you a question or if you want to correct someone’s lies about people.
Read more of the articles in the ‘Coming Out’ section and personal stories of those that have come out in the ‘My Story’ section. By learning about other's experiences and talking about yourself, you’ll know more about who you are and what to expect when you come out. Let your friends and allies know that you’re getting ready to come out so they can support you.
That kind of support system is really important when you’re coming out. You’ll want people around who care about you and will be there for you, whether it’s just to talk or to give you a hug when you need oneor to give you a place to stay, if you need that.
Adapted from “Be Yourself: Q&A for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgendered Youth” written by PFLAG