Hey Dr. Fizzy,
After seeing a lot of people share their LGBT stories on National Coming Out Day, I’m wondering is it time for me to come out? I’m a 17-year-old guy and am starting to think I’m gay. When I think about sex, my first thought always rushes toward other men. I haven’t hooked up with any guys or publically expressed any interest in them. I’ve even had a few casual girlfriends in the past. But still, I feel like I’m hiding a secret when my friends start talking their crushes, their hook-ups, their ideal match, etc. And my family avoids the subject altogether, which has me starting to think they already think I’m gay. Should I just get it over with and come out? Will it be easier?
Sounds like National Coming Out Day has done its job: Raised awareness and encouragement for those wanting to learn more about the coming out process, or even come out themselves. But remember, this awareness day isn’t about forcing people to come out; it’s about letting people know that their thoughts/concerns are valid and if they want to come out, there’s a ton of support out there.
First of all, it sounds like you have a solid community around you that will appreciate whoever you are, whether that’s straight, bi, gay, questioning, whatever. Even if they aren’t asking about it, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be supportive. And given your awareness about National Coming Out Day, I think you’re already surrounded by open-minded people, at least on social media. That said, if you are physically in danger or at risk of rejection from your family if you come out, it’s important to know there are resources out there to help. Check out this guide from the Human Rights Campaign.
I think the best way to decide if you should come out is identifying your motivation to do so. From what you wrote, it seems like you might be still be defining/discovering your interests. If this is the case, don’t feel like you need to rush “coming out.” It’s fairly typical that people who are questioning face a period where they are just trying things out and seeing what sits best with them. Remember: coming out doesn’t have to mean giving yourself a label. You could start with a “soft opening” and tell a few close friends you’re attracted to guys. You also don’t have to tell anyone if you want to reflect on this alone—it’s your business, no one else’s.
If you’re fairly certain about being gay, consider what kind of freedoms coming out could give you. Would telling people you’re gay give you more opportunity to date men? Would you feel more honest? Would it help you jump that hurdle of sexuality and focus on other things in your life, such as career? Will it allow you to be more of yourself? If you answered yes to any of these, you will likely find a huge relief in coming out.
And to answer the last part of your question: Coming out isn’t going to always make things easier. It could make things easier with your family and friends—you may also lose a few in the process. It could help you feel like you’re going in the right direction—but there will be many more forks in the road. And while they will be challenging path to explore, try to also find the fun in the journey. Wherever your identity path leads, be proud, never ashamed.
What’s up in your life? You have a question for Dr. Fizzy? Send it to 📩 DrFizzy@fizzymag.com