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What To Know Before You Come Out This Holiday Season

Robyn Exton

Dec 16, 2021

What To Know Before You Come Out This Holiday Season
  • The holiday season can be stressful for queer people for many reasons. If you haven’t come out yet, it can be even more stressful. Hiding your authentic self, lying about parts of your life, and fearing being outed before you’re ready all take their toll. But the holiday season can be a good time to consider finally coming out to your family and friends. Often, at this time of year you spend time with family you may not see that much otherwise, meaning you can come out to them all at once. This can seem daunting at first, but for many, it’s easier than having to come out several times to different groups of people. 

    But there are a few things to think about before you come out this Christmas. Ensuring you’re completely ready to be open with your loved ones, preparing for the actual coming out, and planning how to handle different reactions are all important. As with many things in life, preparation is key. Not only will it ensure you have everything you need to support you through the process, but it will also give you more confidence knowing you’re ready.

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    How To Know If You’re Ready

    It can feel hard to know whether or not you’re ready to come out. But there are a few things you should ensure you have in place before you embark on this journey. The most important thing is a support system. Do you have people you can call or somewhere you can go if it doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped? 

    We all want to hope for the best, but in these situations, planning for the worst is smart, just to make sure you’re covered just in case. Talk to your friends and let them know when you’re planning to have the conversation, so you know they’ll be there to support you however you need.

    Tips for Coming Out

    There are lots of different ways to come out and approaches to take, whether you’re coming out as trans, as queer, or as another gender identity or sexual orientation. You can choose to come out in a fun way or just stick to a straightforward, open conversation. However you want to do it, everyone reacts in different ways. Think about how they might react, what questions they might ask, and what it’s important for them to know. This can help you feel more prepared and give the conversation some direction.

    Firstly, what do you need them to know? Make a list – either mentally or on paper – of the things you want them to know and understand. This could include your pronouns, the name you want to use, how you want to be referred to, or who else you’ve come out to. Secondly, think about things they may want to know, like who you’re going to date from here onwards, whether you’re currently dating someone, if you’re out to your friends, and what might change in your relationship. Remember – they ask questions you think are inappropriate, but focus on the intention behind their questions. Are they intending to be rude, or are they just trying to understand?

    Dealing with Judgemental Family Members and Rejection

    It’s always possible that people will be judgmental when you come out. Sometimes, it’s a knee-jerk reaction that comes from ignorance and fear. If your family or friends seem to be responding with judgment, stay calm. Understand that this may just be defensiveness and their way of dealing with a change in their life and worldview. Give them time to process and they may come around. It can be helpful to go into the situation prepared with resources that can enable them to learn more about LGBTQ+ people and people with your specific gender identity or sexual orientation. They may be able to go away, learn more, and become less ignorant.

    Rejection is different. Being judgmental or defensive is a common first reaction. Both judgment and rejection stem from ignorance and a fear of change or new ideas. However, rejection has more serious consequences. This is why you need to ensure you have a support system in place before you come out. Rejection is really difficult to deal with, so you’ll need someone to talk to and maybe someone you can stay with. Rejection is not necessarily forever, but you need to ensure you have support and resources just in case.

    Navigating Family Time if You’re LGBTQ

    Spending time with your family over the holiday season can be hard to navigate when you’re LGBTQ+, whether you’ve come out recently or you’ve been out for years. It can mean fielding questions about your dating life or having family members ask about everyone’s dating life except yours. Both excessive curiosity and avoidance are common for LGBTQ+ people to face from their families. But just know, you deserve to be who you are, to love who you love, and to live as your authentic self. Many of us deal with these microaggressions from family, but having people in your life who love and accept you for who you are can make it easier.

    It’s also important to be honest. If you’re spending time with your family over Christmas and already dreading those awkward comments or invasive questions, a little honesty could go a long way. Often, if your family and friends don’t know many other LGBTQ+ people, they may simply not be aware that what they’re doing or saying is inappropriate. Try not to get angry or yell, but consider pulling the person aside and saying that their comments hurt your feelings or make you feel uncomfortable. Some people aren’t willing to learn and change, but you’d be surprised how many are.

    Ways to Enjoy the Holiday and Celebrate

    Like everyone else, you deserve to be able to enjoy the holiday season and celebrate another year as your beautiful self. While you may have obligations to spend Christmas Day or parts of the holiday season with your family, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own celebrations. If you find family time awkward and uncomfortable, make sure to organize separate celebrations with people who love you and accept you exactly as you are. The date isn’t the most important thing, spending time with loved ones and having fun is the most important thing.

    Lots of queer people rely on their chosen families this time of year. Being blood-related to someone isn’t everything. Family is about unconditional love and mutual acceptance, and if your family doesn’t provide that, you can create your own. Build your own holiday traditions and celebrate the festive period however you want to.

    Find Your Inner Circle with HER

    Don’t fret if you haven’t found your chosen family just yet. It takes time to build a community around you who love and support you and can grow into the family you’ve always wanted. HER is more than just a dating app. It’s a safe space to connect with people like you to build friendships, relationships, and community. You can find people based on their location, identity, interests, or background, so you’re sure to find people that understand your experiences and can support you through difficult times. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it on HER.

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    Robyn Exton

    Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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