It's National Coming Out Day, But Even Then, It's Perfectly OK If You're Just Not Ready To Be Out Yet
Coming out is a process that takes time, so don't feel obligated to do so if you're not ready quite yet.
Every member of the LGBTQ community knows what it's like to be in the closet.
The term "in the closet" is more accurate to the experience than one might initially think. Being closeted is like cowering in a dark, tight space, forced to remain unseen due to fear of what might happen if you're found.
You see the outside world through the cracks in the door as tiny fragments of light reach in and give you a taste of what it might feel like to be out there with everyone else.
But you stay hidden because it's safe in the closet. The outside world is vast. It's dangerous.
In the closet, no one can reject you or hurt you. To come out is to leave the closet behind and show the world your true colors.
National Coming Out Day falls on October 11, and every year I watch as members of the LGBTQ community from around the world celebrate being loud and proud about who they are.
Those who haven't experienced being closeted could not even begin to imagine the pure joy that might stem from being able to openly express yourself in a world that's finally starting to accept you.
I myself can only imagine it, since I'm still closeted as an adult. I still get overwhelmed with happiness as my community celebrates the triumph of self-expression and acceptance.
That's right. I'm still in the closet as an adult. There's nothing wrong with that.
So many LGBTQ people feel pressured to come out. While coming out may be freeing, it's also a daunting responsibility. Once you come out, you never really stop coming out.
Wherever you go, whoever you meet, you will have to come out again and again. The sad truth is that, in this world, being cisgender and heterosexual is considered as default.
More times than not, people will always assume you identify with the default unless you tell them otherwise.
I wish we lived in a world where we didn't have to come out at all, but at least for now, such a world remains out of our reach.
We must at this time accept that coming out isn't a one-time event. It's a lifelong ordeal.
It's a responsibility you have to be ready to take on. It's OK to stay in the closet until you're ready for that responsibility. Additionally, some people have more personal reasons to not come out yet. Society may have made big steps in recent years towards LGBTQ acceptance, but not everyone has.
There are people who remain adamant in their homophobic and transphobic beliefs. There are countries that still outlaw gay marriage and uphold discriminatory laws.
There's always a chance that, anywhere you go, you'll face discrimination for your gender or sexuality.
That's the way the world is, unfortunately. Not everyone is in an environment where they'll be accepted if they come out. Never feel pressured to come out if doing so will potentially put yourself in danger. It's OK to stay in the closet for as long as you need until you're in a safe enough environment to come out.
Even if you don't have any tangible reason not to come out yet, it's normal to not feel ready quite yet.
Your journey is your own and no one else's. You get to decide when and how you come out, as well as who you come out to. Know that you are valid, your identity is valid, and someday you'll show the whole world just that.
Take as long as you need until then, because you know what? Coming out is scary. That's one thing that remains constant amongst everyone in the LGBTQ community.
We all sometimes wish we could stay in the closet forever.
We wish to stay where it's dark and lonely. We fear our family saying they don't love us anymore because of who we are. It's OK to not be ready to come out yet. It's OK to wait until the coast is clear.
When that day comes, when you finally open the closet door and feel the sun shining on your face, it will have been worth the wait.
I know it will be for me too, as soon as I'm ready to face the world outside the closet.