To start only
those people who you want to know.
Coming out isn’t something that you do once and then it’s over. You might come out now to your family and later to friends, or the other way around. You could come out only to one parent, or to a brother or sister, and later to the rest of the family.
Many people come out more than once as they grow into their identities, or as their identities change. And disclosure can be more complicated when you need to disclose a trans identity, HIV status or other issues.
The people you tell first should be the ones you trust the most. You need to be able to trust them not to hurt you, to accept you for who you are, and to respect your privacy and not tell anyone you don’t want told.
Think about what you could lose by telling a particular person. If it’s a parent, might they kick you out of the house? Cut you off from your friends? If it’s a friend, are they likely to withdraw from you? Would they tell other kids at school? What would happen if they did?
Think also about what you could lose by not telling a a particular person. Is your relationship with your parents or your friend strained because you’re keeping a secret from them? Would you be closer with them, and be able to get more support from them, if they understood why you were acting withdrawn?
Think about what kinds of things you’ve been able to share with them in the past and how they reacted. If there’s someone to whom you want to come out, and you aren’t sure how they’ll react, try to feel them out first. You could get them talking about a book or a movie or a television show about gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people.
Keep in mind though that someone’s reaction to a GLBT person in a movie might not be the same if that person is their daughter or their brother or their friend. And it can work both ways people might seem either more or less prejudiced in a hypothetical or movie-type situation than they would when responding to someone close to them.
For example, because homophobia and transphobia are so common in our society and still so widely accepted a friend or a parent might, without thinking, joke about a GLBT character in a movie or might do so because they think you expect that but show far more thoughtfulness and desire to understand when responding to your coming out. On the other hand, parents or friends who seem accepting of GLBT characters in the media might be far less accepting of homosexuality, bisexuality or transgenderism in someone close to them.
To get a sense of how someone will react to your being GLBT, try to keep your questions specific, personal, and thought-provoking. Say you have a friend who has an older brother off at college, or in the military. You could say something like “I’ve been reading about gay groups on college campuses” or “I’ve been reading about gays in the military. Would you be upset be if your brother came home and told you he was gay?” Your friend might surprise you and answer, “My brother is gay.”
Adapted from “Be Yourself: Q&A for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual
& Transgendered Youth” written by PFLAG