There are two things you will hear when you come out to the people you have known your whole life: either “I knew all along/I am not surprised” or “I am so shocked/I had no idea.” Big shock to the queer out people reading this article: neither of these responses are all that validating. The words that follow are usually a blur, like a passage from a self-help book. It’s kind of strange how in the moment you can hear their words, but in the days that follow they bounce around in your head like when you reach for a steak knife that is falling off the table. They never leave you. These lines become your script for yourself: “I don’t really believe it’s your fault”, “How could you let this happen?”, “I am disappointed in you”, or my personal favorite, “Seeing you with a women would make me want to throw-up on myself a little bit” The new narration to your life.
Coming out at any age can be difficult but your 20’s is an especially challenging time. You're too young to really separate yourself from the ones who have the power to really hurt you but old enough that you feel like you have missed too much of your life trying to be someone else. I am not saying that a 20’s something should wait, or that a teenager should rush it, but I am recommending that a closeted person make themselves safe before coming out. I’m not going to tell you it gets better because honestly I am not really sure of that myself. What I do know is that life moves on, weather you are ready for it or not.
I probably shouldn’t be the poster child for the best way to announce your gayness but I can recommend a few things. If you want to come out, do it for yourself. When you come out, try not to expect a certain response from anyone. Know that whether you decide to come out or not, your bravery is unrivaled by many. Understand that you are a beautiful soul and somewhere out there is acceptance, you just have to find it. I might also tell you that people’s initial reactions may be stronger than how they actually feel.
There are a lot of resources out there to get support before you come out but once the cat is out of the bag I recommend telling your parents/family members to look at P-flag to get more information. If you yourself feel like you need support there is always Kaleidoscope, Kalamazoo College’s LGBTQQ club, and/or the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center. There are a lot of resources in any area a quick Google search can reveal.