By Talia Porter
Many LGBTQ+ folk feel pressure to come out in today’s society, and although it can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience for some, others may find it incredibly stressful or dangerous. Every LGBTQ+ person thinks about what it will be like, how it will feel, and how the people who find out will react. If they are not outed by someone else (which is a horrible thing—you never will be in a position where outing someone is appropriate, I promise), an LGBTQ+ person may choose the location where they come out, what they are going to wear, and what they are going to say. However, many may decide to not come out at all.
On average, LGBTQ+ folk come out at age 16. For some, this can mean announcing it to the world, and for others, it can simply mean writing it down on a piece of paper and admitting it to yourself. This is not to say that there is a right time to come out other than when you feel comfortable, safe, and excited to come out. Everyone should feel empowered in their identity—you chose to let people into the closet with you, and you don’t have to feel as though you’re leaving a safe place when you tell people.
I personally have decided to come out to a few people, stay entirely in the closet with others, and for the most part, live the way that I would if I had already intentionally come out. Hetero/cisnormativity isn’t necessary and not coming out can help fight that, because of how everyone assumes that everyone else is cit/het until proven otherwise. This is why I have never really had the intention to come out to anyone, if it comes up in conversation, then most of the time it’s something that I’ll share, I just don’t feel the need to come out. However, coming out can be a beautiful celebration of who you are, so if you go all out coming out, more power to you.
A lot of people out there think that there’s a specific way that LGBTQ+ people should come out and interact with their sexuality afterwards. There’s a lot of judgement on LGBTQ+ folk, and especially passively when people say, “Oh, I’m fine with them being ____ identity, I just wish that they wouldn’t make it their whole personality.” You are not a burden by celebrating your identity in any way, from expressing your gender identity or being with whatever partner you want to wearing a pride pin. So, coming out doesn’t mean that you are making your identity your entire personality, and even if being a part of the LGBTQ+ community becomes a big part of your life, that’s amazing. Your identity in any capacity is powerful.