Sticking a toe out of the closet: help me come out with the least amount of trauma. Who should I confide in first?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(Warning: this is long.) Mid-20s girl here. Have basically known I was gay since age 14, but for various reasons involving terror, have never told anyone. I'm very, very shy and there are only a few people in my life I'd call close. After a decade of confusion, I've finally accepted that I am who I am and am ready to start living that way. I'm bursting to talk to someone about it. The question is, who?
Unfortunately I'm not ready to come out to everyone. There are two people especially who will NOT take it well:
My roommate. She's homophobic and judgmental, and I have enough anxiety without dealing with a confrontation from her. I'm pretty sure the first thing she'd do is attempt to pray for me, and she would almost certainly tell other people. Another hitch: we're coworkers. So if I were to tell anyone at work and word got around to her... ugh, nightmare. Moving out is not an option right now. (FWIW, I don't think my other roommates would be thrilled to know they've been living with a gay girl either, but they would be more accepting on the whole.)
My mother. In college I broke up with a great guy after just a few weeks, and when she asked why, I said rather vaguely that I didn't know. For a moment she got this horrified look, like, "Oh no, please don't let it be THAT." She is very religious and calls herself a traditionalist, all of which has led me to conclude: she would not be okay with a gay daughter. It's a major reason I struggled to accept myself for so long. But don't judge her too harshly; she's very important to me, and I don't want to hurt her or ruin our relationship. Therefore I do NOT want to come out to her, preferably ever, although I understand it may be beyond my control at some point. She lives across the country and we only communicate by phone (I'm not on Facebook or anything), so I could conceivably keep it a secret for a long time. The same goes for the rest of my family.
That said, there are two people in my life I could potentially tell:
My sister. Now that we're both in our 20s and living on our own, we've gotten much closer than we ever were growing up. She's a terrific listener, and she knows me better than anyone in many ways. She's the first person I thought of to tell. But there are complications: 1) She lives two hours away, so we'd have to talk on the phone, which neither of us has much time for. 2) She just got a new job and is incredibly busy and stressed; I don't want to dump a big confession on her and ask for a lot of emotional support right now. She would give it willingly, but I think it's unfair to ask. 3) I also think it's unfair to put the burden of secrecy on her. She's not the best at keeping secrets, and it might stress her out if she didn't feel free to talk it over with her friends/our family.
My ex-boyfriend. Hear me out. We were together for five years, but we were always better at friendship than romance (for obvious reasons). Although we broke up a few months ago, we still talk every day and hang out often. He is the person closest to me in this city. I think it might be decent to finally explain to him why I so often flinched when he tried to kiss me, etc., that it was because of the gay and not anything he did. He's wonderfully nonjudgmental, and I can imagine his reaction being along the lines of, "Well, that explains so much! Let's go find you a nice girl." But I also wonder if it would be cruel to admit that I basically spent five years lying (well, being confused) about being attracted to him. He has his own hangups/insecurities, and I don't want him to feel betrayed or even more hurt (the breakup wasn't exactly easy on him). To boot, he is not especially great at keeping secrets either.
Two reasons I want to come out (at least partially) right now:
- I've started dating girls. Actually, I went on my first date yesterday. I really like this girl, and when I got home I was grinning from ear to ear and all I wanted to do was TELL someone about it. Not being able to do that makes me feel especially lonely.
- When boys ask me out (it happens occasionally), I want to be able to say the real reason and not make lame excuses. I'm so tired of pretending.
Thankfully I live in a very gay-friendly city, so I'm not worried about general homophobia. Talking to a therapist would be lovely, but I'm not in a financial position to do that at the moment. A lesbian friend would also be nice (I have exactly zero gay friends), but it takes me a very long time to open up to people, so someone I already know and have a rapport with would be ideal. This is why I am leaning toward telling my ex. Is that crazy?
Thoughts? How do I navigate this? I'm looking for constructive comments only, please, not, "If they don't accept you for who you are, that's their problem." I'm really trying to minimize the fallout here. Throwaway, if you'd like: firstname.lastname@example.org