You Need to Help These Ten People Come Out

Welcome to You Need Help! Where you seek advice and we try our very best to give it.

This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.

For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today you will help you to come out.

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I’ve never really had to officially “come out” to a close friend or family member. Sure, in the years between realizing that I liked girls and actually doing something about it, there were conversations where I’d communicate that information to my conversation partner. There were also conversations where I’d deliberately conceal or downplay that information. In my immediate post-college years, my sexuality was honestly the least terrifying of 3-4 major secrets I was withholding from most anyone who cared about me. And, because it’s not obvious that I’m gay from looking at me, I feel like life is often a constant series of micro-coming-outs to strangers.

But I’ve never sat down a friend or family member for the purposes of “coming out” to them. I started dating girls almost exactly around the time that I started writing publicly on the internet about my life (2006/7, when I was 26) and so everybody found out that way; through facebook or my blogs or other published writing. I’ve been financially independent and living away from home for something like 13 years now, so I’ve also got a lot less on the line than possibly some of you do.

So I feel totally unqualified to advise you on how to come out! But you ask me a lot of questions about coming out! So I’ve gathered them up and I’m going to post them here and hopefully our LOVELY READERS will give you the support you need, like a wet nurse for your soul!

OH ONE MORE THING! We also have these related articles:

+ How I Came Out to My Evangelical Christian Parents And You Can, Too
+ Coming Out at Work: What a Way To Make a Living
+ The “When I Knew” Series
+ Texas Is Not the Only State: Confessions of a Lesbian Exile in New York
+ It’s National Coming Out Day and We’re Thinking of You
+ National Coming Out Day Listling Without Commentary: Selections From Your Coming Out Stories
+ You Need Help: Lesbian Back-To-School Edition
+ National Coming Out Day OPEN THREAD: The Good, The Funny, The Awkward
+ “I Want the World to Know” Invites YOU to Share Your Coming Out Story
+ The celebrity coming out posts
+ How To Give Your Mom The Gift of The Gay Agenda

Now for the questions I need you to answer: 

1. My sister is a freshman in high school. I really want to come out to my family before I leave for college, but I’m scared that she’s not ready to deal with having a lesbian sister at the same small-town conservative high school. Any suggestions?

2. My girlfriend is 26 and came out at 18, after all this time her parents being Lutheran will still not accept it. at first being around them I had to be the “friend” and although I wasn’t okay with it, I put up with it for her sake. That didn’t last long. What do I do?

3. Riese. I want to come out to my Dad, but I think he might already know. But he might not. Well either way it’s going to be a super awkward conversation, but I feel like it’s something he should know/ I want him to. My mom also already knows. HOW.

4. Thinking of coming out to a family member. Is sending him the Wikipedia page of the Kinsey scale + a graphic of the scale w/my number circled once I’m 300 miles away an OK way to do it? I refuse to do it in person. Scared he’ll out me to everyone though.

5. Oh God, how does one come out to one’s parents after one put it off for so long? It’s like the longer the lie, the harder it is to fix it. I am newly 28 and i don’t know how to fix this. This will not be happy news for themmm.

6. I just came out for the first time to a girl from my elementary school that I haven’t seen in several years for no particular reason via facebook message and now I am pacing back and forth and sweating. Is that normal?

7. I have this straight friend who I hold hands with, cuddle with, joke about us being a couple but I love her. I know nothing will happen, but I want to come out and I don’t want her to think I was perving on her this whole time. Should I not come out?

8. My mum likes to take an interest in my life so she asks “do you have a boyfriend?” or “Does your friend, [insert girlfriend's name here] have a boyfriend?” I don’t want to come out to her but it just hurts me when she asks stuff like this. ): what do?

9. How do I stop avoiding home? What if I’m being a jerk and not giving my parents who love me enough credit? Will it ever be okay for the two people watched me grow up and the lady I love the most to be in the same room, maybe enjoying each other’s company?

10. Should I come out to my roommates? My straight friends think it’s sneaky that I haven’t, but it’s not something they have personal experience with so I’m taking that w/a grain of salt. I don’t want to hide it from them, but I don’t know how they’ll react.

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Please keep your questions to around, at most, 100 words. Due to the high volume of questions and feelings, not every question or feeling will be answered or published on Autostraddle. We hope you know that we love you regardless.

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1761 articles for us.

72 Comments

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    6. I think that’s very normal. I remember the nervous fit I worked myself into trying to come out to my friends. It was all in my head though.

    7. She may never have thought about it that way (definitely not if she’s as oblivious about girl/girl flirting as I am about girl/guy flirting). You could completely avoid the question.

    8. I HATE that question. I have come out to my Mum although she does not believe me, and am uninterested in being denied my identity a second time so now I just avoid the question, so I get the boyfriend question from her and other relatives too. If you work out a preventative method other than coming out, can you tell me?

    As for the cure, I think that being asked “do you have a girlfriend?” is very cathartic, as is complaining.

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    3. Riese. I want to come out to my Dad, but I think he might already know. But he might not. Well either way it’s going to be a super awkward conversation, but I feel like it’s something he should know/ I want him to. My mom also already knows. HOW.

    This was exactly where I was a year ago. Against the advice of most of my friends, I emailed my dad because that’s how we communicate — we don’t talk on the phone and we live in different states — and I said “you probably know this and i’m sorry for not saying it sooner but the girl i live with is my girlfriend and i am gay and i know you only ever wanted me to be happy and i’m very happy.” And my church-going, former-military-captain dad who I had been so afraid of just wrote back and said that he loved me and it didn’t matter even a little bit. All that mattered was that I was his daughter and I was happy.

    Not to say that it will be like that for you, but I think a lot of times it’s scarier before the words come out than after they’ve been said.

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      This is where I was.

      And then my mom came out to my dad for me and no one bothered to mention it or tell me for four months until I asked my mom because I realized she is awful at keeping secrets.

      To be honest, I was mostly upset because that meant I couldn’t use coming out as a reason to get my dad to buy me free burgers when I came to visit.

      I was also upset because now no one has mentioned it yet and it’s awkward bringing it up again since I’m pretty sure he knows that I know that he knows. WHAT DO I DO. Re-come out to my dad? <_<

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        Coming out to your parents isn’t just the initial announcement, it’s about transitioning to having a comfortable relationship where you talk about things that are important in your life. So, yeah, bring it up! He’s waiting for you to bring it up so he can respond, and you’re not really out to your parents until you feel like it’d be okay to reference your sexuality in the same vein that a straight girl might make a self-deprecating joke about being single or mention that fun concert she went to with a boy from English class.

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          “you’re not really out to your parents until you feel like it’d be okay to reference your sexuality in the same vein that a straight girl might make a self-deprecating joke about being single or mention that fun concert she went to with a boy from English class.”

          I totally disagree here, some people never get to that point, and it’s not because they are not open about it – it’s because their parents can’t handle it. The idea that everyone can get to the stage where it’s a non-issue is coming from a very privileged place. I came out to my parents 10 years ago, at age 14, and we still never talk about my sexuality. It’s not really logical, considering that people who are disowned by their parents would not be fully “out” by these standards.

          Coming out IS the initial announcement. You’re right that it’s not the end of the process, it’s the beginning. But many people never get to that utopian end-state of acceptance.

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          yeah that is true, point taken. I’d assumed from the line about wanting their dad to buy them free burgers, that their parents fall on the accepting-to-awkward end of the spectrum.

          also “fully out” was bad phrasing, should have said something like “your coming out process hasn’t been fully fulfilled to the hippiest state of completeness and acceptance”, which then yeah that process can be held up by either your own awkwardness or your parents’ hang-ups/bigotry

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          Seriously? Your life is fucking brilliant isn’t it? Thats not a qualifying factor for being out, thats one for having a nice family who wouldn’t start a fight if you did that. I’m out to my family for 2 years. We don’t talk about it unless its a fight, thats my damn out.

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          I’m sorry, yeah that was poorly phrased, it was directed at the commenter who wanted their dad to buy them burgers for coming out. i just feel like if you have that potential support you should take it, but someone who doesn’t have that obviously should act according to their situation and parental relationships.

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          I didn’t check this thread again, but lol, two weeks later. I more meant he was taking me out for a burger because WE NEEDED TO TALK and I was home visiting and also, for some reason, it’s less awkward having talks over food, but then we didn’t need to talk, really, and thus no burgers came of it.

          Also tbh, it would have amused me to be like, “lol btw Dad, I’m a big ol’ lesbo :))))” at a burger place called Dick’s. That was like 85% of it. The last 15% was the fact that I’m really poor and thus I never have burgers unless I’m visiting my parents. <_<

          Awkward part of the entire situation is my family just doesn't talk about anything ever. I've been basically totally out since I was about 14 or 15 (so for like 9 or 10 years now) to everyone else I know. But my family, we just don't talk about things. So basically everyone has been pretty sure forever, but we never brought it up? And it seems so awkward to just…bring it up for no reason when it doesn't tend to come up in conversation. :| If I was seriously dating someone now, or even just dating someone, that'd be a bit different, but alas. :/

          I don't think I'll ever be completely comfortable discussing my ~sexuality with my parents, but I wouldn't be comfortable with it if I were straight either because we just don't talk about things. But if I were with someone, I wouldn't have a problem bringing her around or talking about her or bringing her up. But discussions specifically regarding my sexuality would be so weird in my family.

          Also there's this thing where my dad used to be pretty homophobic. When I was about 10, right when I was figuring out that I was gay because it was the first time I could really put a name to what I was feeling, a gay couple moved across the street. My dad proceeded to tell us that we couldn't go near them because a lot of gay men liked to molest kids. :/ Awkward as shit.

          Now he's at a point in his life where he can't give a single fuck about anything anymore. So now he's friends with some gay people, even if he still does make stupid comments occasionally because he is simply ignorant, has been invited to a lesbian wedding, and just generally doesn't get too upset about anything my brother and I do anymore since we're officially Old. Unless someone leaves the jam out of the fridge or something, in which case shit is going down.

          I TYPE ALL THIS BUT IT IS LITERALLY A MILLION YEARS TOO LATE IN INTERNET TIME TO BE RESPONDING. I JUST FORGOT I EVEN ASKED THIS. Thank you muchly for your response though. :) And I'm sorry you got jumped on because I really don't think you meant it in the way most people seem to be interpreting it. :<

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          Oh i’m so glad to hear this follow-up! Did you guys allude to the subject at all? Did it feel like anything had changed between you and your dad?

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          I feel like these responses don’t really address what Dana is trying to say, though they may address how her comment may be misconstrued/may be coming from a privileged place. Though at the same time, I feel like the “normative” narrative for a queer coming out is 1 of 2 things – 1. parents are totally disgusted, reject you or 2. they love unconditionally and now ask every 3 seconds when you are adopting a child with your significant other – so in a way Dana is trying to break out of that mold and address other common issues/scenarios in the coming out process…one of which may not be a “one time end all times” coming out.

          To try and address what she’s getting at, it’s that the ask-ee specifically wondered about “coming out 2.0″ to pops. She knows he knows, she knows he knows she knows he knows…it’s confusing…etc. I’m in the same place with my Dad (told my mom ages ago, am pretty sure she told him because they share everything, etc.). My father has expressed homophobia in the past…but has since toned down. I think Dana’s suggestion is that you don’t HAVE to see coming out as this dramatic announcement. If you have a girlfriend, you can casually mention it (and see if it results in a fight or not…). If he asks about a boyfriend, you can correct him. Etc.

          FOR MANY OF US – both the more privileged and less privileged – Dana is right. Coming out to my parents didn’t mean they exploded in rage at me and sent me to get-ungay-camp. It didn’t mean they now ask about my girlfriend every 2 seconds – or ever – either. It often leaves people in this awkward half place, where you feel out, but not out. If you want to be MORE out to your parents – i.e. not just thinking they might know, probably, and not just thinking it’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell but not being sure – it’s essentially on your shoulders to determine what parts your life you think a loving daughter should share with her loving parents, and test the boundaries…if you want anything to change/get less muddy that is.

          If you’re in a place in your life where you don’t want to take the risk……then don’t……….but coming out, standing up for yourself, and staking out your ground is always /A/ right answer, even if it’s not /THE/ right answer.

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          Yes! thank you for phrasing what I was trying to say in a way that didn’t accidentally sound like advice for everyone in every situation.

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          I feel like these responses don’t really address what Dana is trying to say, though they may address how her comment may be misconstrued/may be coming from a privileged place. Though at the same time, I feel like the “normative” narrative for a queer coming out is 1 of 2 things – 1. parents are totally disgusted, reject you or 2. they love unconditionally and now ask every 3 seconds when you are adopting a child with your significant other – so in a way Dana is trying to break out of that mold and address other common issues/scenarios in the coming out process…one of which may not be a “one time end all times” coming out.

          To try and address what she’s getting at, it’s that the ask-ee specifically wondered about “coming out 2.0″ to pops. She knows he knows, she knows he knows she knows he knows…it’s confusing…etc. I’m in the same place with my Dad (told my mom ages ago, am pretty sure she told him because they share everything, etc.). My father has expressed homophobia in the past…but has since toned down. I think Dana’s suggestion is that you don’t HAVE to see coming out as this dramatic announcement after which all responsibility on your part to move the relationship forward ends. If you have a girlfriend, you can casually mention it (and see if it results in a fight or not…). If he asks about a boyfriend, you can correct him. Etc.

          FOR MANY OF US – both the more privileged and less privileged – Dana is right. Coming out to my parents didn’t mean they exploded in rage at me and sent me to get-ungay-camp. It didn’t mean they now ask about my girlfriend every 2 seconds – or ever – either. It often leaves people in this awkward half place, where you feel out, but not out. If you want to be MORE out to your parents – i.e. not just thinking they might know, probably, and not just thinking it’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell but not being sure – it’s essentially on your shoulders to determine what parts your life you think a loving daughter should share with her loving parents, and test the boundaries…if you want anything to change/get less muddy that is.

          If you’re in a place in your life where you don’t want to take the risk……then don’t……….but coming out, standing up for yourself, and staking out your ground is always /A/ right answer, even if it’s not /THE/ right answer.

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          As someone whose mother won’t stop telling me she wants me to be straight so I can give her grandchildren, and whose grandmother keeps telling me she doesn’t want to hear about this lesbian nonsense, have I got a boyfriend yet? I respectfully tell you bollocks to that idea.

          All my male parental figures are, weirdly, fine with it.

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        THIS HAPPENED TO ME.

        I wish I had come out to my dad in person because
        a) my mom asked if I wanted her to tell my dad, I said only if she wanted to, so she did. And then, because she thought it wasn’t a big tell, forgot to tell me that she had told him until I sent her an email the next week and at the end was like “… have you told dad?”. THAT WAS A WHOLE WEEK I WAS NERVOUSLY ZOMBIE-LIKE WANDERING AROUND CAMPUS.
        b) the next time I saw my dad he was like “…. do you not feel comfortable talking to me?” and it was mad awkward and I was just like “nooooo i was just going to back to school and you were asleep when i told mom and I didn’t want to wake you up but I had promised myself I’d tell someone before I went back to school”)

        I guess I don’t have any advice, just verbal diarrhea.

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    @10. You know, I really hate it when straight people try to tell LGBTQ people how to come out. It’s not like they’ve ever been there. They are absolutely wrong–you are NOT obligated to tell your roomies that you’re gay/bisexual. You don’t know how they’ll react, and that could put you in danger. I would say the best course of action is to talk to them about LGBTQ issues and gauge their reactions. Based on their reactions, you should get a feel for the risk involved in coming out. Trust your gut–if you have a bad feeling about coming out to these people, then don’t! Similarly, if you feel safe telling them, go ahead. Good luck!

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    Feel free to use my coming out story . . .
    My sister told me she had a dream that she was at a wedding in the church we went to as kids, but did not know who was getting married. Then the bride walked in wearing a beautiful gown, and she did not recognize her so still did not kow who was getting married. Then she saw me, also in a bridal gown and realized I was marrying a girl.

    I said “I can’t believe you dreamt I was getting married in a dress”

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    4. If you don’t want that person to out you to everyone, then maybe it’s best not to come out. :(

    6. Yes.

    8. Coming out to your mom might not stop the “do you have a boyfriend?” questions. I still get them. I don’t know, you know your mom better than I do, but here’s one thing I do know: Outing your girlfriend inadvertently by coming out yourself is Not Cool.

    10. You don’t owe your roommates anything but your share of the rent, yo. True story: I came out to my first roommate and for the rest of the year she wouldn’t talk to me and insisted on changing in her closet. I kid you not. It’s none of your roommate’s business. Your straight friends need to check their hetero-normative straight privilege. Not running around draped in a rainbow flag doesn’t make you sneaky. Maybe they’d be cool with it, maybe they would not but framing your gayness as “sneaky” makes you sound like a creepy predator, and I take offense to that.

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      Wow your #10 story is kinda like mine, except my roommate only started changing in the closet after she failed all of her exams and threw herself into fundamentalist Xtianity, before that she used to camp out in front of my bed with her bf and listen to my homo-stories. Anyway, I grappled with Q#10 a couple years ago and I think the best way to come out, really in any situation, is to do it organically, like mention an ex gf or something so gay-tastic so they just do an ahh thing. If its organic, rather than a sit down conversation, it presents your sexuality as a non-issue, gives you an air of confidence and doesnt open up your sexuality for discussion, in the event they are assholes. Good luck straddler

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      To Q. 4 and the comment “ If you don’t want that person to out you to everyone, then maybe it’s best not to come out.”:
      No one has a right to out you. Talking to someone about your sexuality does not give them permission to go and tell others about you. I think it’s important to understand that you do not have to be ready to be the subject of family gossip just because you want to tell one family member. That being said, it is also important to recognize the risk and make sure you are prepared to deal with being outed if it happens (i.e. you are in a safe place and not reliant on people who might stop supporting you upon learning that you are queer). If you are worried that someone will intentionally out you beyond your comfort zone, maybe you should not tell that person- they don’t respect you if they would have that reaction. If you are worried that it would be shared out of excitement or a lack of understanding of your boundaries- communicate!

      Here’s a delightful anecdote from my own (very supportive and privileged) coming out: My father sent me a chain email joke that said “If you don’t like gay people, get mad at all the straight parents who keep creating them” (or something to that effect) in rainbow font. I clicked to expand chain of forwards to see that he received it from a coworker who wrote to him “Saw this and thought of you and your daughters!” I had two simultaneous significant reactions to this (and one insignificant reaction, which was “LOLZ”). 1- My father shouldn’t feel entitled to make my sexuality his water cooler conversation, or divulge my personal life to people I have never met. It also seemed kind of like he was stealing a bit of my identity by making himself an honorary member of the queer community at his office- that’s supposed to be my place, not his. 2- It’s fucking awesome that my dad is an honorary rockstar in the queer community at his office! It is wonderful that his awkwardness around my sexuality manifests itself in rainbow text chain emails and chatting up the office lesbian mom about how he totally wants his gay babies to have babies because he’s the coolest dad ever. For that reason, I am okay with a little undesired outing.

      If your context for worrying about being outed is “my mom would tell my grandma about my girlfriend because she tells my grandma what I had for lunch” you are lucky! Your family loves you and is likely to listen to you when you request that they let you control your coming out process. You might want to prepare for a few awkward overshares, but they will probably try to contain themselves. If you are worried that your aunt will tell your super Catholic grandma because she wants grandma to disown you, don’t share your life with that aunt, she’s not worth it (for the record, my super Catholic super old grandma just said “ooo that’s exciting! What’s it like? You girls get everything you want these days, that’s just so wonderful… so no boyfriends at all…just girlfriends like boyfriends? Well, lucky you.”)

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    Okay so I have an account under this name but I cba to sign in, I’m on my phone. And this kind of thing is important so I wanted to reply right away.

    I came out this year and some of last year. I told my friends and old classmates late last year/early this year, and my parents and brother on 24th April. I remember it all very clearly. It does that to you.

    Now, I’m 17 (18 on 4th January) so I’m utterly unqualified to talk about coming out ‘late in life’ – although, let me tell you, I feel like I came out late. I’ve always been an early bloomer and it felt like it took me an age to do it.

    But what I’ve learned about coming out from my own experiences – and bear in mind I am also unqualified to discuss rejection, as I’ve only had that in the case of an acquaintance/childhood friend telling me it is only a sinful phase, so of wasn’t a big deal – is that whatever way you’re comfortable with is the way to do it. I told my friends over text and my folks face-to-face. You don’t have to go the whole hog.

    If coming out were to compromise your safety, and you don’t have an escape plan yet, it might be best to keep it under wraps until you can more or less guarantee your safety.

    Tl;dr – come out in whatever way you’re comfortable with. You should worry about your feelings first, not whoever you’re coming out to’s. They just have to deal.

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    Before I start giving my many cents, I have never had trouble with coming out, my parents I never told, they just knew at some point. But I have compulsive commenting disorder.

    3. “Dad, I love you, I have to tell you something about myself. I like girls. Do you still love me?”

    4. Too little information but sounds like a super fun way to do it. Should’ve thought about that for my mom :-). But from experience I know that it’s easier for some people to deal with this through a joke. It lightens the mood and the people feel like they don’t need to be super eggshell-y around you.

    5. Why doesn’t one wear a t-shirt that says ‘parental units, oneself is a lesbian’.

    7. If you really love her, come out, confess her love. You may get a toaster oven in the end. This I do have experience in.

    10. Straight people often think that because they suspect you sneak a peek when they change. Also because you obviously want to fuck every female being on the planet, which you don’t (if this is indeed the case, no offense, you’re special). So only come out to them if you want to/feel comfortable with it!!!

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    1. My sister is a freshman in high school. I really want to come out to my family before I leave for college, but I’m scared that she’s not ready to deal with having a lesbian sister at the same small-town conservative high school. Any suggestions?

    I would say that being true to your identity is more important than your sister’s feelings about it. I’d say the same thing to any parents who take their kids’ alternative sexualities personally. Decide what is best for YOU and make your decision based on that. Besides, your sister will adapt. Telling her now, while she’s young, might even make her more likely to become an LGBT ally than if she didn’t have to deal with the issue until later.

    4. Thinking of coming out to a family member. Is sending him the Wikipedia page of the Kinsey scale + a graphic of the scale w/my number circled once I’m 300 miles away an OK way to do it? I refuse to do it in person. Scared he’ll out me to everyone though.

    Hmm… I’m not sure. When I came out to my parents at age 14, they freaked out because they thought gayness was too *sexual* for someone my age, and not something I should be thinking about. (Then again, they are ridiculously prudish – they freaked out when they found out my 22 year old self wasn’t a virgin.) It might be ok if your parents are sexually open, but if not, I’d bring it up in terms of love and dating rather than sexuality.

    6. I just came out for the first time to a girl from my elementary school that I haven’t seen in several years for no particular reason via facebook message and now I am pacing back and forth and sweating. Is that normal?

    Completely normal.

    10. Should I come out to my roommates? My straight friends think it’s sneaky that I haven’t, but it’s not something they have personal experience with so I’m taking that w/a grain of salt. I don’t want to hide it from them, but I don’t know how they’ll react.

    Your straight friends don’t know what they are talking about, and their attitudes are frankly quite homophobic. Even besides the danger that another poster brought up, your emotional health is important.

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      True life- when I came out to my mom at 14 she asked if I was having sex. I was like uhhhh I’ve never even been kissed…Parents don’t have to be all that prudish to believe a gay sexual orientation is too sexual for a 14 year old. It’s not, but eh. they’re parents.

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      Re 1: it depends on what kid sis will have to deal with. I don’t mean coming out to the kid, because she should just deal, end of, I mean being out in public in their community. Yes its important to be true to yourself but if its going to end up in the kid being bullied and you’ve only a year to go then I’d say its worth keeping schtum. Or atleast talking to the kid and having her input first before you make a decision.

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        I see what you are saying. But I focused on the OP’s right to establish her own identity first because queer people’s coming out is so often overshadowed by family members taking the issue personally. (i.e. “What would the neighbors think? No one can know my family member is a freak.”) And quite frankly, I have zero sympathy for that.

        You have a point about being out to a few people vs. out to the whole community. But in my case, coming out to one person turned into the whole community knowing in less than a day. I know my case was pretty extreme, but even if the OP decides to be selectively out, that might not be possible in a small community.

        Also I admit I assumed that the asker of the question felt somewhat safe coming out in the community (based on her considering doing it in the first place, and the fact that her main worry was her sister’s feelings, not herself), and I answered the question accordingly. I would have answered differently if the OP gave an indication that this might be an issue of safety or extremely severe bullying.

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          I have zero tolerence for the what would the neighbours think attitude too. I really was only talking about situations where things were going to be made miserable or dangerous for the kid sis. The thing is, the op being willing to out herself doesn’t actually mean it wouldn’t be hellish for both her and kid sis. Or even that it would be totally safe to do so. Sometimes people come out when its not as an act of activism.

          Yeah that pretty much happened with me too. My favorite bit was when someone whose name I didn’t even know threw a can at my head in the hallway.

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    Can I get in on the holiday advice gift festival? I need some.

    I feel like I reverse-closeted myself.

    Last year, after going through months and months of a god-awful demise of a (straight) marriage, which included an open relationship period during which I dated both girls and guys, I decided I really only like girls and clearly being with guys is what has fucked up my life so much.

    *cue agonizing coming out to my family, my ex’s family, my friends, etc.* I was 32, and it was one of the hardest things I have done. Fortunately, everyone was cool.

    Now, a year later, things have calmed down. I’m divorced. And I’ve started dating guys (as well as girls still) again. But I feel really weird about telling people about dating men again! I don’t want to minimize my previous coming out — or give my mom hope that I’ll get my head screwed on straight (ha! no pun intended) and settle down with another guy. Because, honestly, I’d still rather settle down with a girl. But now I just feel like I’ve backed myself in to a corner because, in hindsight, I should have told people that I’m queer (I hate the term “bi” because I am open to being with anyone, regardless of gender/sex/identification) and that I wanted a divorce because he was a shithead, instead of letting things fall on me coming out. It was just easier at the time.

    Oh, rambling. And the holidays and all of the stressful family things. Hellllllp!

    /threadjack

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      To attempt to clarify, I am currently dating two girls and a guy, all of whom know of each other but haven’t met and none of whom are coming home for the holidays with me. So, there’s that in the “things I don’t have to stress about” column.

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      OMG I’m so glad you brought this up…I know exactly what you’re going through and I actually think about it a lot.

      I was in a really similar boat a few years ago…Before I came out, I’d had three long-term/serious heterosexual relationships. Although I had decided that I was totally open/ready/excited to embark on my new lesbian life, I found that I was still dating and flirting with guys within the first year that I came out.

      Why? because it’s what I was used to. Dating men was all I knew how to do, because I had been doing it for nearly 21 years. Like I was on dating-autopilot…my mind was conditioned to seek out men, even though my heart had decided it wanted women.

      I also think that when you’ve lived a certain lifestyle for so long, it’s hard to transition into a different lifestyle, no matter how ready you think you are or how comfortable you might be, or how “right” your new lifestyle feels.

      And lastly, I think that coming out is such a delicate time in one’s life, that attention/affection from ANYONE/ANYTHING is appreciated and accepted because you become really self-conscious,desperate, and needy. I would have slept with a rock if it came onto me strongly enough during that time in my life, because I was so scared and confused and I just wanted to feel loved.

      I don’t know you so I can’t say this with certainty, but maybe the reason you feel weird telling people that you’re dating guys again is because deep down you FEEL weird about dating guys again…that was the case for me at least. If you’re worried that people will judge you for going back and forth, fuck it. Haters gon’ hate. Know what I mean? YOU JUST DO YOU (isn’t that Autostraddle’s motto or something?) because those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter (DR SEUSS RULES!)

      As with all things, I think figuring out your sexuality just takes time. So maybe you’ll be like me and continue to date both men and women for a while, until you realize that one of the two just “does it” more for you than the other. Just take everyday (and every date) as it comes and be honest to yourself about how you’re really feeling.

      Hope this helps.

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        THANK YOU. I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one who has gone through this in some form.

        I completely relate to your analogy about being on dating auto-pilot. I have tried explaining this to my (straight) BFF and it resulted in a “Huh?” look. It’s just easier, more comfortable, doesn’t make me feel like I’m in high school all over again like dating girls does. Sometimes it’s SO much more work to date girls and I really just want to get laid. Ergo: guys.

        You’re right… it just takes time, and I need to stop rushing myself to figure it out just because I feel like I need to explain myself to other people. On the other hand, I think that compulsion comes from being tired of the years and years of NOT being able to be honest about my feelings… then having the relief of coming out, and now feeling stuck in some weird limbo closet again.

        *le sigh* So many feelings. Thank you for understanding.

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      I also identify as queer (bi doesn’t work that well for me either) and I had some feelings when I read your post and the subsequent responses! My first comment is the complexity of how being queer will continue to play into your own thoughts/feelings/life as well as those around you (family, friends, lovers). In my experience, I continue to learn about who I am attracted to and who I want to date, and this inevitably plays out in all kinds of conversations with the people in my life (as well as a hell of a lot of assumptions). Luckily, when I came out to my family and friends, everyone was cool. But they all started assuming I was a lesbian after I got into a LTR with a woman. *poof* – there disappeared the queerness, and in popped the being a lesbian. I am pretty easygoing with language, personally, and while queer fits best for me, sometimes I use dyke, gay, lesbian, homo, whatever… and if someone I barely know calls me a lesbian, and I am busy, I just leave it. No big deal. However, I have gotten into countless, sometimes hilarious, conversations with my family (and friends too) about my sexuality. The most recent being at my mom’s 60th birthday at a fancy restaurant. I kinda keep needing to school them on the fact that I still identify as queer, am attracted to women/men/genderqueer folks/trans folks, etc. We continue to have all kinds of conversations, they ask questions, I reply as best as I can. I even spat out the idea that I have only really been drawn to women/genderqueer folks for quite some time lately, and they were like, “but do you think that makes you a lesbian?” and I was like, “No.” The reason that I am writing ALL of this (I know, it’s a lot) is that with your story, I see a lot of room for continuous conversation around your sexuality (IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT, IF YOU DON’T, NO WORRIES, LEAVE IT). In my experience, it doesn’t have to be one all or nothing conversation that defines your sexuality for ever. And if you don’t feel like telling them that you are hooking up with or sleeping with a whole crowd of folks (genders be damned) then it’s none of their business. But you could say that you are dating both women and men and leave it at that, or have long deep convos by the fire about it all. You may end up only wanting to be with women down the road, or you may continue to identify as queer until forever… my experience is that I can’t possibly know who I will be attracted to next (people always want me to predict this, which feels weird), but when I am with someone of one gender, I never want to leave them for the other gender (like, I need to fulfill some type of bisexual urge or something) – I am happy with them as they are (I am saying this because of the curiosities that seem to exist about bisexuals wanting it all/needing to have both/wanting to leave one for the other – THIS IS NOT MY EXPERIENCE!!! I FALL IN LOVE, STAY IN LOVE, AND AM NOT A CRAZY BISEXUAL THAT WILL LEAVE A WOMAN FOR A MAN). Sorry, that was a lot of feelings. I feel like I need to a. support my other queers experiences and b. state my queer position so others stop questioning me.

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        Also, two more things.

        “You’re right… it just takes time, and I need to stop rushing myself to figure it out just because I feel like I need to explain myself to other people. On the other hand, I think that compulsion comes from being tired of the years and years of NOT being able to be honest about my feelings… then having the relief of coming out, and now feeling stuck in some weird limbo closet again.”

        1.) Be kind and gentle with yourself. It sounds as though you have made some major transitions, have made some big disclosures, and have come clean with a whole slew of people = tiring, emotional, whew! But I hear that the relief of coming out and the accompanying catharsis and feeling of honesty is what you are seeking right now. That is when the conversations explaining the complexity of who you are might be helpful, so that others can see you as you really are. (This is what I seek too – just being seen honestly and authentically).

        2.) Conversations about what a shit he was might lead nicely into the above conversations about your sexuality. i.e. – “He was such a shit, these are the reasons why I/we ended it…. ” and then followed by “and that’s why the relationship ended, not just because I identify as queer. By the way, I identify as queer, not a lesbian, and that means…. ”

        From one queer to another, good luck!!

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    1. My sister is a freshman in high school. I really want to come out to my family before I leave for college, but I’m scared that she’s not ready to deal with having a lesbian sister at the same small-town conservative high school. Any suggestions?

    It sounds like you’re worried about your sister getting picked on (I hope I interpreted that correctly). That is a valid concern, and it is super sweet of you to be anxious about how your coming out will affect her. But here are some things to consider: first of all, coming out to your family doesn’t have to mean coming out to your whole high school! Based on your question, it seems like your biggest priority is communicating with your parents and your sister, and you can totally do that without anyone else in your community knowing.

    But maybe you DO want other people besides your family to know, and maybe you DO want to be more open with your identity at school. That’s awesome! But you’re worried that doing so might negatively impact your sister. That would be less awesome. I don’t know your sister, but I think that your best option would be to talk to her about it first and see how she feels – is SHE worried about what her friends will think? Is SHE concerned that people will say nasty stuff about you in front of her? If she has those fears, then maybe consider holding off on being out and proud at school. If she’s like, “No, don’t even worry, do your thing,” then trust her!

    It’s been my experience that younger brothers and sisters tend to be strong (they have to deal with us picking on them for years, so of course they’ve got thick skin), and they tend to look up to their older siblings in a very meaningful way (even when they say they don’t), so they often make really wonderful and supportive allies. Coming out to my little brother was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, and there is no one in my life who has my back like he does. To be fair, he is an unusually awesome dude, but it sounds like you and your sister have a good relationship, and I think that just having a conversation with her would be a good first step.

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    7. I once had this doubt, I didn’t come out to her and I don’t regret it. I think, specially with that sort of touchy feely boundary stablished with a straight girl you fancy, lines get blurry sometimes, you can get your hopes up even if you don’t want to, and I personally didn’t want to see myself having to tell her and knowing it was potentially plausible she would freak out, thus scarring me for life and never coming out to anybody else ever. The best thing I did was get over her/it/myself pretty fast so I could come out to a few other close friends and to my family. I also never hid or censored myself with anybody or on Facebook so I am sure she knows. Everybody is different but if that situation is any similar to mine and specially if you don’t know where your crush stands re: homosexuality in general/lesbians in particular, don’t do it, that’d be my answer.

    8. Also in my experience, my mum asked all this stuff even though she pretty much knew I was gay. I think she kinda wanted me to tell her. I realize maybe this isn’t common, but there’s no solution for parents asking about that stuff, so I’d just ignore it or give vague answers until you’re ready to come out to them, if you ever are.

    10. I just feel like coming out is YOUR choice – you decide if you want to tell your roommates or not. It’s not being sneaky, I’m sure they have personal stuff they don’t share with you. Ultimately if you tell them it is because you feel comfortable enough to do so, because you trust them enough or because you like them and you want to share that piece of you with them, not because of what other people may think you should do.

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    Let me tell you something #7. I was in the same situation as you with my straight BFF a while back… like joking we were a couple was kind of the worst but also sort of the best, I guess. And we had sleepovers and cuddled and stuff. And when I confessed my ‘crush’ AS I came out, she took it well (as good as it can be when there are no reciprocal feelings), but she did tell me later that she felt sort of betrayed in a small way when it came to the crush part, like she thought that it was all platonic and she was just with her friend and it made her a bit self-conscious looking back. idk, so that’s what she said.

    But the important thing to remember is that YOU’RE doing the big thing here. I think a good friend will recognize that and will deal with whatever weird feelings she has in a mature way.

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    1. My sister is a freshman in high school. I really want to come out to my family before I leave for college, but I’m scared that she’s not ready to deal with having a lesbian sister at the same small-town conservative high school. Any suggestions?

    Your decision to come out is yours, your identity is yours, but the experience of coming out is something you are sharing. Maybe the ultimate picture is one where your sexuality is a trivial component of your relationships with family, but the coming out process can impact family in some genuine ways.

    In this specific situation it’s relevant whether there are people (maybe your parents or other family) that are supportive, so that your sister could ask questions or share her feelings. I also don’t know whether you are worried that she will be bullied for sticking up for you, or if she will be confused and have trouble understanding what you are going through… so I guess I’ll just answer from some of my own family politics.

    If you are going to tell your sister, be prepared to lightly follow up and maybe share some resources. You don’t have to go all after school special or academic on her- you could just talk about TV shows or share an autostraddle review of pretty little liars. The conversation can be mostly comedic, but it can still convey that she has a venue to talk to you about sexuality in general so that she doesn’t feel like it’s something she doesn’t understand and can’t learn about (since from the sounds of it, she probably doesn’t see many out peers or adults in your community). Realize that it might be a lot for her to handle– especially at her age so much agonizing happens over lunch table friend drama… this news is going to be big news whether or not it should be big news. You also probably want to be ‘in the know’ about where she is getting her information- if you drop the “I’m gay” thing and leave she might end up talking to a friend whose father is an evangelical minister… or she might only hear about homosexuality from a Rick Perry ad. If she doesn’t have a schema of sexuality and relationships that your queer identity fits in to, you might want to help by exposing her to positive representation.

    If your family is the anomaly in your small conservative town, maybe she knows that nothing has changed just because you came out and she is prepared to be supportive. It still will change her role in the community. She undoubtedly hears people make homophobic comments. Maybe in her classes homosexuality, marriage, or religion are topics that come up. She is going to have to navigate different responses to that environment, and it will probably affect her personally. You might want to talk to her about how out you plan to be in your town (i.e. is everyone going to know she has a gay sister), and if you are okay with her talking about your sexuality with her friends (i.e. if she tells a friend because she just needs to talk, but that friend tells another, and so on… is that going to jeopardize your safety in the town or make you feel uncomfortable? Let her know your boundaries and wishes too).

    The point is- it’s probably going to matter to her that she’s now the family of a gay person, letting her know that it is okay for her to have a personal reaction (i.e. it’s not selfish) might be a good way for you to be supportive and get her support. If things don’t go so well, acknowledging that it’s something that will impact her might help you moderate your reaction to any negative fallout. It might allow you to take a deep breath and give her time to adapt, rather than winding up blindsided by your family making it their issue too. Your family shouldn’t be making your choices for you, but acknowledging that your choices impact them and giving them a little space to process is probably a good rule of thumb.

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    4. Thinking of coming out to a family member. Is sending him the Wikipedia page of the Kinsey scale + a graphic of the scale w/my number circled once I’m 300 miles away an OK way to do it? I refuse to do it in person. Scared he’ll out me to everyone though.

    If he’s going to out you to everyone is he really worth all this stress? Only come out to people you care about and who care about you if you’re worried about outing. Either way, do it by phone at least. Never write anything down you don’t want in the paper.

    7. I have this straight friend who I hold hands with, cuddle with, joke about us being a couple but I love her. I know nothing will happen, but I want to come out and I don’t want her to think I was perving on her this whole time. Should I not come out?

    Come out and tell her everything. Like right now. I went through something similar to this except I was out to the person in question and she was bi. It got to a point where everyone else thought we were in a relationship, I thought we were in an agreement of some sort. What do I find later? She was fucking one of my friends the whole time while still leading me to believe we had something. These are not issues you want to leave unclear, people get hurt.

    10. Should I come out to my roommates? My straight friends think it’s sneaky that I haven’t, but it’s not something they have personal experience with so I’m taking that w/a grain of salt. I don’t want to hide it from them, but I don’t know how they’ll react.
    Your straight friends have never come out and never gone through all the accompanying crap so they can go fuck themselves and their homophobic attitudes frankly. You come out when you damn well feel like it, if ever.

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    Hey, #7. I’ve been #7.

    I told her I liked girls and when she didn’t say anything I asked “Is that okay?” and she said “Of course it’s okay, as long as it’s okay that I don’t.”

    Looking back, I do Not, Not, Not recommend ever asking someone if it’s “okay” for you to like girls but I do think it’s important that you let her know you’re not necessarily expecting her to feel the same way. Also, not going to lie, I don’t cuddle with this girl anymore, though we stayed good friends. She was actually super excited for me when I finally started dating girls. I think she knew I’d had some misplaced affection for her and pursuing girls who weren’t straight did a lot to alleviate that.

    Good luck!

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      a million times this.

      I’ve also been #7. I knew the whole time she would be ok with it, but I spent about 6 months trying to figure out if she might feel the same way. Realized there was no chance despite all the cuddling and hand holding. Then spent another 6 months trying to get over her. Came out to a few other friends first. Then to her, but never told her I had feelings for her. I think she could have made that assumption though. Now I’m in a real relationship with a girl who reciprocates my feelings. It’s extremely refreshing!

      I would do whatever it takes to get past this stage you’re in cause it’s kind of the worst. If that means telling her, go for it. If that means secretly going on dates with girls on Ok Cupid until you have more confidence (may or may not be my personal experience), go for that! Just don’t let your life get consumed by this situation for too long.

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    Hey #1. I came out in high school, and was fairly open about my identity. My sister is in high school now, and the most she has to deal with are rumors about her older sister. The same was true for the younger sister of a (straight)girl in my year who had an older sibling who was out. Rumors, insubstantial stuff. If your sister has a thick skin, she’ll be fine. If you are concerned she might not be on your side if things got ugly in coming out at school, I’d say come out to your family when you feel your skin is thick enough to withstand her possible rejection, and then wait until come out at school when the dust has settled with your sister.

    In general, I’m pro telling siblings before parents. But my sister and I are pretty close, for being 5 years apart.

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    10. Two things:

    a) I think you need new friends, and

    b) seriously fuck those friends, because however “sneaky” it is to not tell your roommates (which is not sneaky at all, that is totally fine, no one is entitled to know every last thing about you for any reason), you’re the one who has to live there, and being safe and comfortable in your living situation is a hell of a lot more important than your roommates being aware that you would like to date/bang/own cats with someone in a non-heteronormative way. It really only affects them if you’re bringing people home and having loud sex or PDAs and even then it shouldn’t be the sex or gender that matters, it’s the poor roommate etiquette.

    Speaking of loud sex! If you do decide that you want to come out, I think you should get a male friend to come home with you, pretend to have really loud sex, and then a few nights later bring home a female friend and be super quiet the whole night and then maybe hold her hand in the kitchen while your roommates are around, and they will just be so glad you’re not having loud gross sex with that one dude again that maybe they won’t care.

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    With regards to #10, my roommate was one of the first people I came out to because I’d known her for two years when I started coming out to people, we were wicked close, and we had (and still have) a lot of mutual friends who are gay so I knew that she wouldn’t be weirded out by it.

    She then started pressuring me to come out to EVERYONE EVER. Like I was agonizing over telling my parents and she was like, “why don’t you just call them right now and tell them? then you won’t be worried. my parents are on their way over to drop off some groceries. WANT TO PRACTICE COMING OUT BY TELLING MY PARENTS? … no? How about telling my sisters? It totally doesn’t matter you only met them once for ten minutes, they’ll be totally chill with it.”

    I had to pull her aside and tell her to stop making me uncomfortable, it’s just kind of hard to work into conversation and I didn’t want to make it a big deal.

    tl,dr: Don’t listen to your straight friends. This is one thing they don’t know what they’re talking about.

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    1. My sister is a freshman in high school. I really want to come out to my family before I leave for college, but I’m scared that she’s not ready to deal with having a lesbian sister at the same small-town conservative high school. Any suggestions?
    I’m in a very similar situation, although my sister is only a year younger (but young for her age). My family is so delusional that they literally have ZERO idea, which makes it hard. I’ve weighed coming out to my family (already have to my friends) for years now, but still haven’t yet (but largely because I just know it will be awk^10 w/ my parents). But with regards to your sister, I definitely think 14/15 isn’t too young to realize that you’re still you, despite who you like. Although her reaction– and perhaps the reaction of your/her peers– might be adverse, at first, people do come around.
    I know that’s cliche, but for the vast majority of people it is true. These are your last days with your family before you leave for god-knows-how-long. You gotta make the most of ‘em. And in your case that means coming clean about who you are to the people that love you most.

    3. Riese. I want to come out to my Dad, but I think he might already know. But he might not. Well either way it’s going to be a super awkward conversation, but I feel like it’s something he should know/ I want him to. My mom also already knows. HOW.
    This is tough because here you’re coming out to an uncertain audience. But when you’ve got an uncertain audience, all you really have to do is broaden your scope. You say you want to come out to your dad; do so. But if my interpretation is correct, your mom knows, or you think you do. Solution? Put ‘em both in a room, sit ‘em down, and come clean. Yeah, it’ll be awkward. So make it short and sweet. If your mom already knows, hopefully she won’t randomly burst into tears, and will (hopefully) serve as a figure of stability and calm in the room, should your father react emotionally or otherwise. And you say they both might even know. I know that coming out is awkward (trust me, I’ve done it all the wrong ways), but when you get down to it, coming out is just revealing another personality trait. It doesn’t HAVE to be about the fact that you want to get down with the ladies. They’re your parents, they don’t need to know the details. But they do deserve to know. Especially if you want to tell them, I think this one’s a nobrainer.

    4. Thinking of coming out to a family member. Is sending him the Wikipedia page of the Kinsey scale + a graphic of the scale w/my number circled once I’m 300 miles away an OK way to do it? I refuse to do it in person. Scared he’ll out me to everyone though.
    Unless he is a behavioral psychologist slash college professor slash has a strange sense of humour, I would highly advise you not to send him a personalized Kinsey scale. But you seem to not want to come out to him in person, which is fine, especially if you think he might react poorly/angrily. In this case I might suggest handwriting a well-thought-out letter. Doesn’t have to be long, just informative. Make sure to write about your worry in coming out to him in person, not as an accusation but more as an explanation.
    Caveat– you say that you’re worried he will out you to everyone. This is tough because you may WANT somebody to know but they just happen to be a huge blabbermouth. You have two options here: one is to simply hold off, until you’ve built some more trust/ come out to more people. The other is to CLEARLY explain in your message to him that this is something very personal, something you want to tell others personally, not through a rumour or by word-of-mouth. But again, you are running a risk.

    6. I just came out for the first time to a girl from my elementary school that I haven’t seen in several years for no particular reason via facebook message and now I am pacing back and forth and sweating. Is that normal?
    Entirely normal. The first person I came out to — this is rather a source of shame for me– I came out to on FB. It went well (we’re actually together now), but facebook can be tricky. Like with text and email, tone doesn’t come across as effectively as if you were to be talking on the phone, or face to face. But it sounds like you don’t really know this person well / you don’t see them often / you don’t intend to be roommates in college, etc. So what’s the WORST that can happen. She logs off?

    8. My mum likes to take an interest in my life so she asks “do you have a boyfriend?” or “Does your friend, [insert girlfriend's name here] have a boyfriend?” I don’t want to come out to her but it just hurts me when she asks stuff like this. ): what do?
    This is basically a recounting of all of my teenage years; my mom still does this, as I haven’t come out to her yet, but less often. The problem is that I think your mom MEANS well. She certainly doesn’t sound like she’s trying to hurt you by asking if you’re involved; i think she’s really just trying to be an active parent, and make sure you aren’t going to get pregnant and die. What I’ve done for years is just make a game out of it, laugh it off. Pleasantly but firmly tell her you aren’t involved with a boy (which is a truth), that you have school / [insert activity here] to worry about. Then smoothly change the subject. It’s foolproof, for me. But again, if you don’t desire to come out to her just yet, don’t take the questions too hard.

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    Wish I could help with any of these but I really can’t. I told my mom about my girlfriend last week and it went rather badly. Basically first she told me I was confused and then she told me I was making my life harder for myself and then she told me I was sinning. Now I’m at home for the holidays and she only talks to me in one word answers. Hooray for family!

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      This happened to an ex gf of mine when she came out to her super Catholic mother while she was visiting for a week during the summer. It’s been a few years and things are “better” for them. They don’t talk too much about her personal life (i.e. her homogay lifestyle), but they are back to having the same kind of mother/daughter relationship after those initial painful conversations. I guess my point is: hang in there and I hope it get’s better for you soon!

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    (slightly OT:)

    ohmygod, that scene with paige and emily made me bawl my eyes out.

    “if i say it out loud; if i say “i’m gay”, the whole world’s gonna change”
    “yaa, it will”

    *AWWWW TEARS*

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    #8 I hated that question with a passion when i was 17. It made me so aggro and strained my relationship with my mom. To be honest, the only reason she is asking those questions is because she has an idea or just knows.
    The best thing you can do for both of you is to answer her honestly. Do some yoga before hand, clear your mind, be in control of yourself and go for it. It won’t be any less scarier if you do it today or a month from now.
    Try to keep it together. Don’t get mad if she reacts poorly. Show her you’re being mature and not just a dumb kid going through a phase. Tell her how you feel when she asks you these questions and tell her truth.

    That was my mistake. I got mad and yelled. a lot. We ignored that i was really gay for a long time. I had to come out to her again when i was dating my current gf about 6 years after i first came out to her. This time i was asking for her acceptance, i didn’t cry, i was as together as i could be. I told her that i was starting to see a girl, who i really liked for a a month or so. i told her, because i thought she should know as normal mother-daughters tell each other these things. I’m past her approval, but i wanted her to know because she’ll be coming around the house soon and often. My mom for once actually listened. Its been over 3 years since i came out the 2nd time. My mom really likes my gf and vice versa.

    #10 theres no need for you to make a big thing about it unless you’ve been pretending you’re straight all along. The thing i’ve found the easiest is to just mention it in passing. I recently did this. If your roomates are like any “liberal” straight people. They won’t make a big deal about it either. The last thing straight ppl want you to think is that they’re homophobic. So they’ll try and play it off cool.

    If you don’t have a gf right now, you can mention an ex-gf somehow. Like maybe you’re talking about a movie, “oh i saw that last year with my ex-gf, we both hated it” etc etc.

    I’ve learned that slipping it into the conversation like any normal straight person would, is the best way. I’ve done it twice this week. Once with my roomate and the 2nd with my cousin’s friend who i’m showing around. Neither followed up with questions, they just went about the convo as if nothing.

    the sooner you get it out of the way the sooner you”ll be comfortable in your own home.

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    1. Before I came out to my family, I worried way too much about how they would feel and not enough about how I felt. The way I see it, how would anyone at school know about you unless she tells them? If she’s concerned about people bothering her, she probably won’t mention anything. But yea it’s not about her, it’s about you.

    2. If she’s out to them, why were you introduced as a friend? If I were in that position, I don’t think I’d be ok with it either. I don’t have much more to really advise on this other than continuing to talk it out with her on how this makes you feel.

    3.You didn’t really mention why he might or might not accept you and you know it’s bound to be awkward either way so what do you have to lose? If you want him to know and clearly it’s important to you that he knows, then tell him.

    4. Yeah, you’re not ready to come out. If you’re going through a planned out process while hiding behind a computer, 300 miles away and STILL afraid of being outed, then leave it alone until you are ready. Maybe he shouldn’t be the first family member you tell?

    5. Depends on what it is that you’re fixing. Did you commit some elaborate lie to a point you were about to marry a man? Have you been hiding a girlfriend from them in plain sight? I don’t have much to offer on this one since I didn’t wait long to tell my parents but if you want to fix a lie, start with the truth.

    6. I’d probably be a bit nerved up too so you’re not alone there but if she’s just a facebook friend, I wouldn’t have given it much thought eventually. Do you plan on seeing her in person? Did you have a crush on her as a kid? (or still do now?)

    7.I’d be a jerk if I didn’t say that I’m still having issues with this even after being out to straight friends. Not as bad as when i first came out to them but every now and then I’m still kind of awkward around them. In my case, most of them don’t care and don’t really put as much thought into it. I can only name one person that’s made me feel like a perv and it annoys me to no end. I can’t compliment or make the random ‘wrong’ jokes I used to before I came out because they think they’re being hit on. Maybe tell her how you feel and why you were putting off telling her?

    8. Snark and Sarcasm are a way of living in my household. Depending on how you and your mother are there’s three approaches.

    The nice one: Either tell her—which might or might not get her to stop asking or just keep saying “no” and drop the subject/change the subject.

    The smart ass one: Record the word “no” and just hit ‘play’ over and over until she leaves you alone. Bonus: record the word no in different languages. I.E. “No” “Nyet” “Nein.”

    The snarky one: “You keep asking me like I’m going to tell you something new.”

    9. Sorry about skipping this one. I can’t relate. :(

    10. Sneaky for what? Do they think you’re doing secret lesbian dance moves or something while your roommates are sleeping? Are you going to pounce on your roommates on a full moon? It’s completely your call if you want to come out to your roommates and no it’s not “sneaky” to keep something from them that’s technically not their business unless you want it to be.

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    There is no right way to tell anyone. I would wait until I’m in a stable relationship before telling anyone in my family. If there is a Pride fest or parade in your state, I would suggest you ask the folks that you live with it or your closest friends to come with you, and while there you tell them that this is the community you also belong to not just the one they are a part of. That you would appreciate a little respect from them and for them to treat you the same as before. Your sexuality is like your race, you can’t choose to be white, black, asian, hispanic or any other races. The timing has to be right for you, not everyone is going to be happy about it. If you lose family, friends or make new ones at least at the end you’ll know where you stand. As long as you are honest with yourself and to the ones you love everything else can kiss your butt.

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    9. Will it ever be okay for the two people watched me grow up and the lady I love the most to be in the same room, maybe enjoying each other’s company?

    The short answer is yes, but it could be awhile.

    The summer after high school I was supposed to spend two weeks with my girlfriend at her parent’s house. To them I was just her best friend. On the second night her mother walked in her bedroom without knocking and BOOM we were outed in the most uncomfortable way possible. Her parents separated us for the night, wouldn’t even let us talk to each other. It was like we were criminal conspirators or something. The next day her mother drove me 5 hours IN SILENCE back home giving me evil glares ever so often in the rear view mirror. That was about 16 years ago and that same woman just sent me socks for Christmas.

    I think parents want to blame somebody and the first girlfriend makes a pretty good target for their feelings. But then they calm down and eventually realize that they do love you, that you love this other person, and if they want to continue to have a relationship with you they will accept her. Maybe they’ll even send her socks.

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    The first time I told my mom was fairly nerve-wracking, even though I really did know she wouldn’t care. (Back story: we were watching a Lifetime movie once when I was 13-ish, and one of the characters was gay, and all of a sudden she says all thoughtful-like, “you know, honey, if you or your sister were gay, we wouldn’t care. We’d still love you just the same.” And I was all like, “psssh, ok mom, whatevs, not gay, but thanks I guess.” I still don’t know if she was trying to tell me something or just being super-progressive.)

    I was home the summer before my junior year of college, and I made her take me out to lunch at this Japanese place, and totally-not-smoothly told here we should play a “secret” game. So first I told her that I’d done mushrooms, and she told me that she still smokes pot with her bff sometimes. And then I told her another secret that I forget, and she told me that when she was in college she dated her good friend’s dad for a while. And then I told her I was gay, and she was out of secrets, but totally cool with the gay thing.

    I don’t know if this helps any of the above ladies, but I think that if you’re really nervous about it, but it’s likely that it’ll be ok, then working up to it with smaller revelations can help you get up the nerve to finally say it. Also, you might learn some really weird things about your mom.

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    #9

    I would like to figure this one out too. I always avoid home. I recently came out to my mother and it received a very lukewarm reaction. Basically I have a lot of feelings and would really like to not dread coming home every year.

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    These holigays, when I am forced to break bread (gluten-free!) with people that think Im a sub-human for being a homo-gay, seeing autostraddlers helping one another is so bloody heartwarming. Like a big hug..I WISH WE COULD BAKE A CAKE MADE OF RAINBOWS AND FEELINGS AND WED ALL EAT AND BE HAPPY

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      I can’t even make the SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE joke because I agree so much! I’m in an incredibly homophobic country and I can’t tell anyone and seeing all this support and love is making me FEELINGS.

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    About #10. Your straight friends are being homophobic and they don’t know what they’re talking about.

    But if you have a chance to move out now, like if you live in a dorm room and you can transfer to another one without a big mess, you should probably tell your roommates. Just so you don’t have a big shitshow later if they find out you’re a homo and suddenly remember all those times they changed clothes in front of you or whatever.

    Also um… I’ve had roommates who really liked hanging out while naked, and who didn’t do that around me because I came out to them like the first time I met them. It was nice having boundaries like that worked out early. As opposed to roommates who keep sitting around half-dressed leaving me worrying about if they know I’m gay, how I should act so that they won’t get uncomfortable, etc…

    Anyway, sorry for rambling here, my point is: If they seem cool and you’ll be able to gtfo if you need to, tell them. If you don’t know how they’ll react and you’re stuck there, keep playing the pronoun game.

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    To #6: Yes, perfectly normal. The first time I ever came out to someone was via livejournal messaging to a girl I barely knew and it was A BIG MOMENT. So yeah, lots of pacing and sweating and feeling like oh god why did I do that WHAT NOW. But as it turned out, coming out to her led to coming out to my family and friends, and I’m so glad I took that step. But yes. Coming out to anyone if it’s the first time is scary and BIG and any reaction is understandable. *hugs*

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    2. My girlfriend is 26 and came out at 18, after all this time her parents being Lutheran will still not accept it. at first being around them I had to be the “friend” and although I wasn’t okay with it, I put up with it for her sake. That didn’t last long. What do I do?

    This sounds more like a problem with your girlfriend than her parents. If she already came out to them, then I really doubt she’s fooling anyone. I would talk to her and tell her that you find it disrespectful and hurtful to lie about it. But of course, I understand not wanting to create a weird situation around the parents and just because she doesn’t call you a “friend” doesn’t mean that she has to call you a girlfriend. She could just introduce you by your name and let them connect the dots.
    Worst case scenario: you try and your girlfriend refuses to budge, but you still want to keep her around, just pretend it’s a war reenactment in the DADT days to keep your sanity.

    5. Oh God, how does one come out to one’s parents after one put it off for so long? It’s like the longer the lie, the harder it is to fix it. I am newly 28 and i don’t know how to fix this. This will not be happy news for themmm.

    You’re just going to have to face the music because unfortunately, lies cannot be covered by more lies. Start this by looking deep within yourself and asking why you lied in the first place. Fear is most likely your motivating factor and that is probably what you should focus on when you do fess up. Accept that it is likely your parents might have some hurt feelings and apologize for lying, but explain why you did it.

    10. Should I come out to my roommates? My straight friends think it’s sneaky that I haven’t, but it’s not something they have personal experience with so I’m taking that w/a grain of salt. I don’t want to hide it from them, but I don’t know how they’ll react.

    I always find it the best policy to put it on the table BEFORE actually living together. I actually interviewed one girl that would have been perfect, until I threw that little side note in at the end. Turns out it was a BIG FUCKING DEAL to her. I made a note after that to always mention it.
    It’s irritating because in a way, I don’t think it should be an issue. I don’t think I should have to disclose something like that because even the suggestion makes it seem like there’s something wrong with it. But in this sort of scenario, I have to just accept that it’s a problem with THEM and not ME and really, I’d rather not live with a homophobe.
    However, the way your question is phrased, it makes me think that you might live in a dorm or another situation in which you didn’t have a choice in your roommates. In that case, you have no obligation to tell them. But let’s face it, eventually they’re going to find out, so you can soften the blow by leaving some items that are obviously gay around and hope they get the hint.
    Suggestions: L Word DVD set, rainbow/equality sticker, lesbian magazines.
    Avoid: Strap-on.

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    #7 If you really really don’t think she will reciprocate, come out to her and some other friends simultaneously. For instance, if you have not told Sam and Joe and Marlene, get Sam and Joe and Marlene and this girl you like all in the same room, and then tell them all that you want to have sex with many women. This, I think, will dispel a lot awkwardness on her part. You will be publicly making her less associated with your queerness by including her in a group you come out to. Then everyone deals with you being gay, and maybe you can make a joke about how she was unintentionally cock-blocking you all those times she pretended to be your girlfriend. Does this make any sense?

    Also, I have cuddle parties with my straight friends all the time. We are like kittens or puppies. Sometimes we fight in the fetal position. It’s normal (maybe? I don’t think fetus fighting is normal, but cuddling probably is), so if she isn’t homophobic it shouldn’t be a major problem.

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    3. You could ask your mom to tell him for you, if you want. Or you could write him a letter if you don’t want to do it in person. If you live at home and want some space for a while, maybe you could stay at a friend’s house for a night or two.

    4. If you don’t want to be outed to everyone, and you aren’t confident that he’ll respect your request not to be outed, then don’t tell him. If you want to come out to him more than you want to not be out to everyone else, then sure, of course sending him a Kinsey Scale graphic is okay. It’s your coming out and your choice, and honestly? I think that’s a pretty cool way to come out.

    6. Ahahahaha, YES. I guarantee you that people around the world read your question and went, “THANK GOD I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE.” When I came out to my best friend who I knew would be totally cool with it, I was shaking and hiding under the covers. Even though it was already dark so she couldn’t see me anyway! No matter how ridiculous you might feel, there is always someone who is even more ridiculous (for example: me), and even if you somehow manage to be the single most ridiculous person in the world, that is okay! You will have good stories to tell someday.

    10. Not if you don’t damn well feel like it. Nobody gets to tell you when, how, or to whom to come out, and especially not straight people. Here’s how I think of it: not telling someone isn’t a final, irreversible act. You can always change your mind and tell them later. But telling someone IS irreversible. If you tell them and then regret it, there’s no going back. So you might as well bide your time, wait for clues as to how they might take it, etc. Your roommates might reveal themselves to be raging homophobes, and then you’ll likely be glad you didn’t tell them; or they might reveal themselves to be completely accepting, and then if you want to tell them, it’ll be much less scary.

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    I remember when I was #7 like months ago and at a new college. I came out to all my guy friends first. And then I came out to my straight chick friend who I was super close with and had sleepovers with and deep meaningful conversations. She said she was okay with it but eventually she stopped inviting me to go out to point that she straight up ignores me when I’m in the same room as her. That’s like the worse case scenario I guess. But I’m glad I came out to her. Sucks that I have to put up with three more years of this shit, because she’s basically being a child about it.

    I mean it still hurts that I don’t exist to her and I cry sometimes (like right now as I type this out) but she was the type of person to expect that reaction from. I had to do it for me, because not doing so was making me so anxious. Does that make sense? Like what I take away from this is that I’m damn hot and I’m a better person for it.

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    #5: I came out at the ripe old age of 28 too and, despite having old school, conservative, Republicatholic parents, it went really well. I hadn’t given them enough credit.

    I introduced them to my girlfriend as a friend before I told them we were a couple. My parents were initially a little tentative about our “friendship,” because she’s butch, obviously out, etc.. My mom actually said, “What if she develops feelings for you?” at one point. But, because she’s great, they also liked her almost immediately. When I told them that I love her, it was way less intimidating because it was less abstract. I also enlisted my mom’s help to tell my dad, which I highly recommend. Not just “I like girls,” more “I like *this* girl that you already like, but also other girls too.”
    They were more surprised than upset. I explained why I’d waited to tell them (I was confused about it myself for a long time, etc…). Expect lots of questions and be patient and thick-skinned. I responded to everything from, “How long have you known?” to “Does this mean you’re going to cut off all your hair and quit wearing make up now?” I emphasized that I was telling them now because I love them and I love her and I didn’t want to deal with excluding anyone from any important parts of my life.

    I’d honestly reached a point where I thought it was too late to come out to parents and coworkers. That wasn’t the case. And it’s awesome to bring my gf to Thanksgiving dinner or work events. In fact, my mom just emailed me to tell me about what she got her for Christmas.

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    1. My sister is a freshman in high school. I really want to come out to my family before I leave for college, but I’m scared that she’s not ready to deal with having a lesbian sister at the same small-town conservative high school. Any suggestions?

    I can relate to this, but it’s a slightly different scenario. I was a freshman in high school, I had a sister that would be leaving for college soon, AND I had a little brother who was approx. 7 years younger than me. I feared that his life would suck because I would be the known as the ONLY lesbian our small ass town.

    I came out to my friends when I was a freshman in high school, and I was attempting to keep a secret from my family. Turns out that my sister and I had mutual friends because it somehow got back to her. She freaked out saying how disgusting it was because we shared a bedroom. I had to make a clear distinction on the fact that I was a lesbian and not incest because apparently that was assumed. Stupid.

    That then forced me to come out to my parents. The tricky thing was, I don’t talk to my parents. I always write them notes if I had something important to say. So, that’s exactly what I did. I came out in a page long letter saying that I was a lesbian, that I had a girlfriend, and I didn’t feel like it was fair for me to be lying to them about who I was. I left it in my mom’s car compared to the usually stove top that way I could get away with leaving for school, and STRESS about it ALL day. (I’d recommend not doing that. I was paranoid all day.)

    I came home and my mom was totally cool with it. She sat there and hugged me told me how much she loved me, and then proceeded to try to explain that lesbian sex is the same as boy-girl sex. Most AWKARD conversation of my life.

    Anyhow, back to having a younger sibling and them dealing with it. I’m still the only out girl known from the small town. My brother is now a freshman in high school. My brother has always been the most supportive person of me because he has always seen at as normal. He’s a religious freak, but he still loves me dearly.

    I’m not sure how to put this lightly, but no one will compare the two of you. You’ll be the freak not your sibling. They’ll formulate their own conclusions. You coming out will benefit you and only you. It may seem like it harms those around you but it won’t. You’ll be forgotten about soon enough because something more interesting will come around town. You know how it is. Someone will find out something else, and you’ll still be the lesbian, but someone may become the slut that got pregnant. It won’t hurt your siblings future. Just come out both of you will be fine.

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    #7- I was in that exact situation. I told her I was gay. Turns out she already knew; she wasn’t as oblivious as I’d thought- and she wasn’t as straight as I’d thought, either. ;)

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    Jeez, it’s like most of these have just been copied and pasted from my life.

    3.I was in the same boat for a number of years. I wanted to come out to my dad, but I was afraid that his ultra-conservative, church-going existence would cloud his ability to be a loving and understanding father. I hemmed and hawed for about 3 years about telling him, but just found excuses as to why I couldn’t. Part of me thought he already knew, but part of me was afraid it would be a complete shock. I decided to rip the band-aid off and came out to him a couple months ago. I just said it real fast and explained my situation. He said he and my step-mom knew because they followed my blog, where I obvi talk about being a lesbian. He said he loved me and that we would probably disagree about most things, but he loved me anyway. Chances are, if your mom knows, your dad knows. Or if you think they know, they know. Parents have superpowers or something.

    7. I have quite the experience with this, but I can’t say anyone should follow what I did. Maybe if you come out to her she’ll tell you she loves vaginas too, and you’ll be partners for life. Or maybe she’ll be really weirded out and feel like you were using her. Or maybe she’ll just accept that you’re gay and still want to be your best friend, but won’t have any romantic feelings attached. I am a pretty touchy-feely person, so it was normal for me to be snuggling or holding hands with my straight friends. Some of those times I felt guilty because I knew I felt like I was taking advantage of them (i.e. had a big fat crush on them, or wanted to have their babies, or loved the hell outta them). The ones that I felt guilty about and told them that I was gay definitely did not react well. I think it depends on what your intentions are – are you going to confess your love for them since day 1, or are you just going to open that fabulous closet and stroll right out? I think you know what you need to do or not do. If you truly feel like you have to come out, then maybe it’s best if you do. If not, there’s probably a reason. Best of luck.

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    So I want to add an 11th question:

    I pretty much have to just face facts and accept that I am gay. Which is actually way scarier than I ever imagined. What I don’t get is why I would have to “come out” to my family. I don’t do big emotional conversations, and even though my family have never displayed the slightest bit of homophobia in the past I really don’t want to have to conversation with them.
    I guess my question then is, is it ok to not officially come out, but to one day just drop “my girlfriend” (not that I have one yet) into conversation? Or do I have to sit my mum, stepdad, dad, stepmum, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins down and actually say “I’m gay!”?
    Any advice would be gratefully received!

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      This is super late because I was bored and scrolling through old posts and saw that no one replied so I just wanna say; yes. It is ok if that’s how you feel comfortable doing it. That’s how my older sister did it and that’s how I did it. If you know your family is going to be completely ok with it then I don’t think there needs to be a big conversation about it unless it’s something you want. People don’t have to come out as heterosexual, so why should you have to officially come out as gay? Granted in some situations it may be important but that’s for you to judge.

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