How do I come out of the closet...a little?
January 17, 2011 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Sticking a toe out of the closet: help me come out with the least amount of trauma. Who should I confide in first?

(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:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Tell your sister.

Even if you were with your ex for five years, as he was previously someone you were emotionally entangled with, there's a chance this will raise some awkward feelings in him, especially if the break-up was a difficult one. You need unmitigated emotional support right now, and your sister is willing to give it. She can also help you navigate your mother and other family members and offer support on that front. I promise you she won't mind if you call her up and tell her at all. She'll make time for it, really.

And you don't need to give us any justifications for coming out! We want you to be true to yourself, too.

Best of luck to you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:45 PM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Tell your sister first, and have her help you decide how to tell your ex. I think he'll end up being your biggest ally. When he learns that you're gay, it'll take all the weirdness away so you can get down to being really good friends.

Congrats on your awesome date!
posted by goblinbox at 2:01 PM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

If your mom said "don't tell me THAT" then she probably already knows. She may not like it but she probably knows. Some years ago my friend finally decided to come out and he was terrified of what people would think of him (he didn't have a lot of self confidence) but after he told everyone he said he should have done it much sooner because it was actually not as bad as he thought it would be and waiting just gave him more time for his mind to make up bigger and bigger disaster sceanrios. Be. Yourself.
posted by MsKim at 2:04 PM on January 17, 2011

Tell your sister. Don't tell your ex.

Doesn't sound like you have a best friend, outside of your ex who probably doesn't count in this case. If you did then you should tell them. So go get one. I don't know - if you had more close friends this would be easy. Start with your sister. If your ex can't keep secrets then don't tell him, and maybe spend less time with people you don't trust. And more with people you do.

Okay, you can stop reading now, if all you wanted to know was who to tell first. The rest is likely to be a little more out there. So it goes. This is a big part of your life and these are some things which aren't so easy to hear but I know some people who maybe wish someone had said something along these lines to them at this juncture in their lives.

You don't owe anyone anything. Your ex can handle his own shit. You live in a judgmental environment right now, which is toxic. Worry about you. Handle your own shit. Move out as soon as it's an option. That's stressful, I know, but the difference will be like night and day.

That was a build-up to the difficult part. Here's the difficult part.

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.

Well, you need to realize that if you tell her then she'll probably tell your mom, inadvertently or otherwise, and as apocalyptic as that seems right now, it's really not that big of a deal in the long run, because...

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."

...because your mom already knows.

Trust me on this.

It's the admission that's the hardest part - it's giving the idea life by breathing it into the air, and she doesn't want to do that and you don't want to do that and you don't have to right now. But right now you're imagining your mom going to her grave thinking you just never met the right fellow and let me tell you, that dog don't hunt. Some day you need to air this out, and you'll find that she cries a bunch and maybe is pretty huffy for a while but in the end it's a non-thing and it won't wreck your relationship the way you're dreading that it might. So yes, some day you'll probably want to get that formality (and I know you don't believe me that it's only a formality, and you're certain that she has no idea at all, but really you need to trust me on this) out of the way, but again: That day doesn't need to be today. Doesn't need to be tomorrow, or next week. Or next month. Or year.

Get some friends you trust. Let people in, some, because so far you haven't been doing a lot of that and that can be kind of harmful. Get a feel for your own skin and what it feels like to be inside it. Which is to say: Handle your shit, and worry about the rest of the world once your shit is thoroughly handled. Your sister will support you, so take advantage of that.

You're taking baby steps into a wonderful new place. It's scary, because freedom always is, but you'll be fine. I promise.

Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:04 PM on January 17, 2011 [7 favorites]

I know absolutely nothing about how anyone comes out of the closet, though I have plenty of friends who have and I have been so happy for them when they are able to live their lives with congruency. (Including some friends from very conservative families and communities, one who is happily married to her girlfriend now.) Sounds like your sister would be a great choice for a first person to tell and, who knows? She might be really happy for you and not stressed at all. You don't know and you have the strongest relationship with her. If you live two hours away from each other, that sounds like a weekend conversation at her place.

I did want to say...yay! So, so happy for you that you don't have to be confused anymore, that you had a great date, that you have something happy that you are bursting to tell someone about. :)
posted by jeanmari at 2:05 PM on January 17, 2011

I don't think there's one answer to this, because it presumes that we know for sure who is the most awesomely trustworthy supportive person in your life and that we know how they will react. What I would suggest is given that you contact your local LGBTetc. community center and join a coming out group, where these very situations (and more) are discussed among people who are negotiating the same waters. It also is a good way to find lesbian friends (which IMHO is more important for people newly coming out than finding a lover). Oh, and congratulations!
posted by Wordwoman at 2:08 PM on January 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

Sigh. What I would suggest is that you contact, etc.
posted by Wordwoman at 2:09 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

My sister was the first person I came out to...she already knew...she told my mom...she already knew.
posted by AlliKat75 at 2:10 PM on January 17, 2011

Can I make a book recommendation? Outing Yourself, by Michelangelo Signorile. I haven't read it in a really long time, but I seem to remember finding it a little helpful. It might be worth reading.

I think a great first step would be to try and find some gay or lesbian friends. Is there an LGBT community center where you live? Something with social groups you could join -- a gay book club, etc.

Or maybe you can post an ad on a site like OK Cupid or something. Specify that you're emphatically not looking for relationships, but friendships.
posted by Tin Man at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2011

In my experience, it was a lot easier to come out to likeminded peers than it was to come out to people like my parents (dad is supportive, mom still thinks it's "a phase" after almost 10 years being out).

So I would start with someone who you know would be supportive of you, and who there aren't huge stakes with. So probably not someone who could make your living situation hellish.

The thing is, though, that you have to let go of the secrecy. The notion that, if you tell X, she will probably tell Y, and it will get around to Z who you know won't support this side of your life? You cannot control that, and if this is something you can't live with, you should probably stay in the closet until you have a really compelling reason to come out. Because, yeah, people are going to talk.

I say all this as someone who is sort of ambivalent about the Coming Out cultural narrative; I came out as a lesbian in college basically because I just felt like the time was right. Then it turned out I was bi. Now a lot of people are very confused, and it's caused certain other people who were supportive to now distrust my understanding of my own identity. Ugh. Anyway, long story, but I actually don't think it's vital for all queer people to come out as early and as often as possible.

Which isn't to say I think people should be closeted. Just. Well. You need to mentally be ready. And that includes the notion that you won't have complete control over who knows about it.

Re work and living situations and, actually now that I think of it, most things - I tend to be out on a need to know basis. I don't censor myself, and I refuse to pretend to be straight. But "Hi, I'm Sara, and I'm bisexual" isn't the first thing out of my mouth when you meet me. One thing that is good about this approach is that it doesn't create controversy* or build me up into a Certain Kind Of Person.

*Warning: I live in a major US city, work in an unconventional field, and pretty much my entire social circle is left-leaning and socially liberal. I don't know anyone in my day to day life where I live who isn't in favor of gay marriage, let alone who is openly homophobic or who would behave inappropriately if I brought a female date to my apartment or the company party. I deal with those people in my family back home in the South, but most of them are at least polite to my face about this sort of thing.
posted by Sara C. at 2:23 PM on January 17, 2011

Tell your sister. I'm not out to my family (though if they found this, it wouldn't be a big deal; I'm just chicken), except my brother. Despite my straight-looking lifestyle, he'd pretty much always known that I am bisexual. He was not at all surprised when I came out and it's not a big deal to him. BUT! It is SO freeing for someone who's known me practically my entire life to know this aspect of my life. My friends have all been great, but there is nothing like getting acceptance and validation from my brother.

Also, 2nding finding a local queer community center and getting involved there. You'll find other people you can talk to who will, at the least, simply support you being gay. You'll probably make friends. When you can, move someplace where you can be out. The more you can safely and comfortably be yourself, the happier you'll be.
posted by linettasky at 2:32 PM on January 17, 2011

Well, tell your sister; that's a no-brainer. Don't worry about dumping on her--that's what sisters are for!! If she'll have a hard time keeping the information under her hat, tell her she can discuss with her friends (I'm hoping they're non-mutual) but that the question of if & when to talk to the rest of the family is yours entirely. Seriously emphasize that it would be big betrayal for her to take this initiative away from you.

As to the possibility of never coming out to your mom... I am not gay, so I can't speak to how healthy this might be long term. I will say that I have a gay aunt (on my husband's side) who, as far as I know, has never had a discussion about this explicitly with her family. Everybody knows, and nobody judges her, I don't think. They just don't talk about it. Her partner comes to family events and is loved by all. So, who knows? Maybe you could do this, if you really don't want to have the talk with your mom. Again, I don't know if it's the "right" thing to do; but I think your own comfort is the most important thing here.

As to the ex, only you can say if this would work or not. orthogonality's comment is awful IMO; confusion is not the same as dishonesty. Maybe you were being dishonest with yourself; maybe you were trying to do what your mom would want. Inadvertently hurting your ex in this way is something you might want to apologize for. But if he's as good a friend as you suggest, then sure, explain to him what was going on.
posted by torticat at 2:36 PM on January 17, 2011

This is utter bullshit. It's not an issue of trust or respect regarding the other person, it's an issue about you coming to terms with the fact that many people in your social environment are needlessly bigoted against people who don't conform to their gender ideals. And that is often paralyzing. If your ex is a good and decent person, he'll be understanding, or will at least come around quickly. If he isn't, then he can go fuck himself.

You're being needlessly venomous - that kind of language really isn't warranted. You might be okay with finding out that your partner of 5 years was never attracted to you (and knew that she wouldn't be for about a decade), but a lot of people wouldn't be.

It's entirely possible to recognize that closet cases are often forced into straight relationships by societal pressures while recognizing that it's an awful thing to deceive a trusting partner like that. Sympathy all around.
posted by ripley_ at 2:50 PM on January 17, 2011 [7 favorites]

Congratulations on making an important realization and a big decision—and sorry that you find yourself surrounded by unsympathetic people. That's tough. It's especially shitty that you have to deal with homophobia in your own home. I know you say that moving is not an option right now, but I'd get out of there ASAP. I wouldn't live with people like that, and I'm straight.

(Which also means that you should take my advice with a grain of salt. Obviously, I haven't been through this.)

There are surely GLBT support groups in your city. Could you perhaps drop in on a meeting? You could call or email ahead, so you know what to expect. It's actually kind of a low-stakes move—you won't know anyone there, there's no big "I'm a lesbian" confession to stress over, and you don't have to worry about rejection or a negative reaction.

It's not exactly "coming out", but it's a low-risk way to try on a lesbian identity, and see what it feels like to openly show that part of yourself to others for the first time. You'll also meet a bunch of local people—some who are closeted, some who are out, some who are questioning—who can generally support and advise you. I believe most such groups have confidentiality policies to protect those who have yet to come out.

Just an idea. Best of luck, and congrats on the successful date!
posted by ixohoxi at 2:54 PM on January 17, 2011

My ex-boyfriend (and friend) came out to me. Ultimately, it was liberating for both of us. The truth usually is.

I would recommend that you tell him over email or phone, so that he has time to get his head right. Then, when he sees you in person, he will hopefully be emotionally ready to be the supportive friend that you need.

Good luck!

Also, if there is anyway that you could find a new place to live, I would recommend it. Living with someone like your roommate is seriously emotionally draining.
posted by mmmbacon at 3:00 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Yeah, I've known I was gay for the last decade or more, but I used up five of your prime dating years because I didn't trust or respect you enough to tell you."

I don't think this is an accurate characterization of your attitude, but I do think this could easily be the way your ex hears it. Once you've moved from "confessing" to just telling friends that you're gay, I think there would certainly be room to talk to your ex about it. In other words, I think it might be a bit much to expect anyone to hear, "We never really had a chance because I'm gay, I just couldn't tell you," and react with the kind of support you need right now. It seems more reasonable to me for you to confide in someone who is far less likely to feel hurt or conflicted when you come out--not because your ex is guaranteed not to be supportive, just because I think it's naive to think he won't have any mixed emotions about it. He may need to ask you some questions to process his own hurt, and I think it would be kind to him to wait until you are in a place emotionally to be able to give those answers.

(I do not at all mean that you intentionally harmed him by dating him, nor do I mean that you owe him an apology. People are complicated and so are their relationships. I don't think it's fair to say that you "used up" or wasted his time.)

Also, RE: therapy. Look into local LGBT youth organizations. Even though you are in your mid-20s, they may be able to point you toward resources that can support you.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:00 PM on January 17, 2011

When you say your sister isn't good at keeping secrets, are you sure that applies to THIS secret? This thing that's really important to you and who you are? I bet she can shut up about this for you. (Or as someone above said, you could give her permission to talk about it but only with trustworthy friends/her partner/one carefully chosen person who doesn't know you or your family.)

When I came out, I told my best friend first, and then didn't tell anyone else from my home town for a good year or two. It was helpful to get used to being out in my college town, where nobody had known me forever and nobody really had an entrenched pre-conceived idea of me, before I tackled the family and other old friends.

Nthing waiting a while to tell your ex. Since you aren't sure if that one will go really well or not, save it for later when you're feeling confident. Make your first coming out discussion one that you are pretty sure will be painless, and it sounds like that's your sister.

And strongly agreeing with those who recommend coming out groups or book clubs or lesbian discussion groups. Having some lesbian friends will make coming out way easier!

Good luck and congratulations!
posted by equivocator at 4:18 PM on January 17, 2011

Also, if there is anyway that you could find a new place to live, I would recommend it. Living with someone like your roommate is seriously emotionally draining.

Seconding this. Once you are away from a homophobic roommate, you will be astonished at how much pressure you were dealing with in that situation.

Go, you!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:07 PM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

"Yeah, I've known I was gay for the last decade or more, but I used up five of your prime dating years because I didn't trust or respect you enough to tell you."

Um, a man's prime dating years are not in his 20's anyway. It's not like he's about to hit menopause...
posted by Maias at 5:09 PM on January 17, 2011

I don't really have advice, but I wish you luck!

If you don't make it some OMGBIGSCANDALOUSSECRET when you come out, it might be a little easier. (At least that's what I've been told. I'm bi but married to a man, so coming out wasn't a huge deal for me. Though there are still a lot of family members who don't know.)
posted by luckynerd at 5:26 PM on January 17, 2011

Wow, you're really, really hard on yourself. You don't need to beat yourself up over 20/20 hindsight and not being ready to come out earlier. I think you're maybe nervously trying to talk yourself out of coming out (even though you really, really, really want to). If I were in your shoes, I'd probably tell your sister and your ex.

You don't need to decide on your sister's behalf that she's too busy to talk to you on the phone -- she can let you know when she needs to hang up. If she tells your mom, well...maybe that'll turn out to be a blessing. But I bet she'll keep it under wraps for now.

You don't need to revise your uncertainty in your relationship with your ex into imagined cruelty -- he could broken up with you to date girls more sexually interested in him. Sure, maybe he'll be a little hurt. So you tell him that it seems obvious in hindsight, but at the time it wasn't.
posted by desuetude at 10:32 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

All I can offer you is the memory of my thoughts when my son at age 18 told me he was gay.

He had just picked me up at the airport as I arrived for a weekend visit at his university. I distinctly remember sitting in the car as he drove toward my hotel and he said that he needed to tell me this weekend that he is gay for he had planned for me to meet some of his friends so I would know more about how his life was changing. I had a moment of thinking I might faint. I said, well, yes, of course I do want to meet your friends and know more about your life at school. While I tried to sound normal, my mind was in shock and racing with fears of how hard his life would be now, as a gay man, how impossible it would be for his father to accept this, and yes, my selfish fears that I would not ever have grandchildren, fears for him that he would never have a partner nor proudly enjoy a home and family with someone he loved.

This was years ago when there was no Ellen DeGeneres on television with her proud and loving mother as a role model, nor any "Brokeback Mountain" winning Oscars. It was still possible for the mother of a grown son to be very naive -- I was not aware of even knowing anyone at all who was gay. I am glad for today's easy access to information and education on any topic. I am so glad today that young people can marry and have homes and families as they choose. The world has changed already and will continue to change.

My son is a very bright, loving and charming man. He has always had good taste in people. His wonderful friends helped him that weekend by showing me and including me in their fun, their movies, talk of their studies, of their families, showing me their friendship with one another, and with my son. I shed some tears that weekend but not many. I became his ally when he faced those few others who did, indeed, make his life difficult. I never for a moment wavered about loving him as much as I always had. My initial reaction of shock and fear was just that; Even when they were small, I always initially felt shock and fear any time I thought my children were threatened, from whatever quarter. But it never stopped me for one second loving them or being close to them or springing to their aid in every way I could.

I think you can find a community of friends for yourself and I hope you do that very soon. I think you can believe in finding love and happiness for yourself and I wish that for you as well. I also think you can believe in your mother's love; I think you already have that and will not lose it. I wish you all the best for the future.
posted by Anitanola at 1:55 AM on January 18, 2011 [10 favorites]

I'd consider finding a whole new group of people you don't know (some kind of hobby group, LGBT group, church, whatever) and instead of "coming out", just not being "in". Give yourself some space to feel what it's like to be out without having to make a big deal of it.

That might make it easier when you want to come out to people who are more likely to turn it into a big hoo-ha.

You could consider telling people that you are dating a lovely lady, rather than that you are gay. Everybody knows how to handle a new-romantic-partner conversation ("wow! tell me more about the lady!") whereas many people don't know quite what to say about a newly discovered orientation, or wonder whether they are being asked for their approval, which is weird.
posted by emilyw at 2:01 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd like to gently urge you to reconsider your decision never to come out to your mother (you're young, and never is a long time, so this will probably happen anyway, but still).

You say that you don't want to "ruin" your relationship with your mother. But if that relationship has all this lying and secrecy at its center, then it's a little bit ruined already, isn't it? But that's not even the best reason to tell her. The best reason to tell her is that you're dating girls and having a good time, and soon enough you're going to want to get serious with one of those ladies, and she is probably going to want to meet your mother. And want to meet her as your girlfriend.

Why this is relevant to your question: it's almost always better to do things all at once than slowly and agonizingly. There may be negative consequences to your coming fully out of the closet - I won't pretend otherwise. But these consequences will always happen, and so I suggest that you at least consider just ripping the band-aid off and coming all the way out. My sister did it the way you're contemplating, and it was fine, but the whole process took way longer than necessary. My mom needed a little time to come to terms with it, but she did, and now everything's fine. But if she had told everyone sooner, that could have gotten underway sooner as well.

Finally, if you decide not to do that, absolutely tell your sister. She'll want to know, and will be glad to know that you trust her enough to be totally honest with her.

Good luck!
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:53 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Um, a man's prime dating years are not in his 20's anyway. It's not like he's about to hit menopause...

No, but the twenties are where many people want to start settling down and having children (and many women come into their prime post divorce and menopause!)

Anyway. I'm straight, so I have no insight to give, but I just came here to post that I really hope you find somewhere new to live. Tell your housemates you need a bigger room or somewhere closer to X or Y if you feel you need to, then navigate this new self of yours away from people you know are going to be against it. If you want to invite someone back to your place, you want to feel as comfortable about it as you would were they your ex or another man, because that's the only way you're going to remember that this is normal and who you are.
posted by mippy at 7:58 AM on January 18, 2011

Agreed that you should come out to your sister. It probably won't stress her out as much as you're imagining, because it probably just won't be that big a deal to her. And I imagine she'd really want to have the chance to support you. Plus, she might feel hurt later if she finds out you didn't come out to her first -- it might make her worry that you don't trust her. (Of course, hopefully she'd understand that coming out is complicated and often more a question of trusting yourself than anyone else.)

Agreed also that you shouldn't tell your ex with the expectation that he be a big source of support for you. He might be, but I don't think it's fair to expect that of him, since this really does shift how he looks at a major portion of his life and he might need his own time to process that.

When you come out to your sister, could you give her permission to talk to someone about it? Maybe friends of hers who don't know your family? Or her partner, if she has one? I think it's really hard to have no one at all to talk something important over with. But I also think it's totally fair for you to ask her not to tell the rest of your family.

Re your roommate, agreed you should move ASAP to a place where you don't have to hide who you are. And re your mom, agreed you may later want to reconsider your decision not to come out to her, but you don't have to figure that out right now.

I very much agree with the recommendation that you find a coming out support group. If you're in a gay-friendly city, the LGBT center there probably has one. Coming out is a really huge deal in some ways -- it's taken you ten years to get to a place where you feel ready to do it -- and I think having support from people who've done it or are in your position could be super helpful. Don't underestimate how hard it is to grow up in a society where you almost never see positive reflections of an important aspect of yourself. Given that, it's completely reasonable that coming out can be hard. And there's a reason for the cliche that when people come out they surround themselves with rainbows and gayness. You often need the antidote to all the anti-gay stuff, however subtle, in the prevailing culture. So find the LGBT center, go to Pride this summer, enjoy this part of yourself!
posted by zahava at 8:32 AM on January 18, 2011

I am excited for you - congrats on making a big decision. I'd tell your sister first - she has time for this, and I bet she can keep it a secret from whomever you tell her can't know yet. I think of it as being an honor to be trusted with something like this, not a burden - and your sister probably would too, I think. Get her advice on telling your ex - I don't think you owe him telling him, but if you think he will be supportive and a good ally, then I say go for it and tell him.

You didn't ask this, but I think you might want to find a new roommate if that's an option.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:31 PM on January 18, 2011

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