The Process of Coming Out…

  • Creator
  • #139001
    DeeAnn Hopings

    Across the spectrum of LGBTQIA+ people, there exists the possibility that we will want to (or need to) come out to those in our circle of people around us. Regarding the significant people in out lives, this is not a One-Size-Fits-All situation. Our relationships with the people mentioned will likely be different as many factors come into play. For example, relatives versus friends, managers versus co-workers, acquaintances versus friends, etc. Conscious thought needs to be applied as to how much we want to invest in a given person and how the relationship might change in the future.

    I have asked that this forum be created as, over time, many threads involving coming out are scattered around the site. There was no one place where a member could go and read about how to go about the process, what others have done and how things went, good and bad. Going forward, this will be a place to discuss our coming out issues and figuring out healthy strategies for moving forward. As I come across coming out threads, I will move them to this forum.

    So, I will propose a topic to get things started.

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  • Author
    • #139473
      DeeAnn Hopings

      For us transgender people, as well as gay and lesbian folks, the coming out process is pretty much unavoidable as some point. Keeping secrets takes a heavy toll over time. We have to be very careful about EVERYTHING that we do. People that we know well, spouses, significant others, relatives, close friends, et al, will notice if we respond to a question in an odd way or leave some tell-tale sign that doesn’t make sense or that we don’t have a plausible explanation. People will pick up on something being “off”. They won’t know what it is specifically, but they know that what they are seeing or hearing is outside of what they expected.

      On CDH, for example, we’ve seen many stories about people maintaining their secret for long periods of time, only to leave some piece of clothing not put away or a stray web site in their history list. The situation blows up and it is downhill from there.

      Obviously there is the realization that the person in front of you is not the person that you thought them to be. But also another major point is continuing to carry forth a lie. The sense of betrayal is a very powerful emotion. To an extent, humans do possess flexibility, but betrayal is hard to forgive.

      Taken in aggregate, these two things should make us wonder if there is any way to avoid this situation, or at least minimize it. Personally, I don’t believe that we can effectively avoid coming out. Our actions, at some point, are likely to be our undoing. Further, think of all the effort that we would put into maintaining our secrets. That is energy that we could put to better use and more purposeful endeavors.

      However, what often happens for us is that fear overrules our intelligence. Logically, we know keeping our secrets indefinitely will not work. Logically, we also know when our secrets become known accidentally, things are instantly thrown into chaos. So, what do we do?

      I’ve mentioned the saying attributed to Hemingway, but the thought process is much older than that. The saying is:

      A coward dies many deaths,
      A brave man only once.

      Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that if we don’t come out, we are cowards. The saying comes from a wartime mentality and that is not our situation. But, what it does speak to is the power that fear holds over us. Every day that we live in fear detracts from all that we could be.

      Also, I’m not saying that we should blindly run into a buzzsaw. That won’t do anyone any good. But, our chances improve greatly if we put conscious thought into what we need to say and we get agreement that the other person will allow you space to say what you need to say. Whatever happens after that is what happens. But, at the very least, you have stated how you feel and your perspective on how things sit.

      Is there a Magic Bullet here? No, there are no assurances that everything will go as you like. Life doesn’t work that way. But, with thought and sincerity, I think a potential avalanche can be morphed into something more like inclement weather.

      So, Thoughts Anyone?

    • #139050
      DeeAnn Hopings


      As Rachel Maddow said:

      “The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.”

      The reason I asked for this forum is that we’ve all seen threads here, and other places, where someone was outed and it’s downhill from there. It is an unfortunate intersection of several things:

      • Whatever exchange happens, it often turns into an argument very quickly.
      • We are subject to whatever biases the person has who is doing the outing. Everything is seen through their lens.
      • Since we are rarely prepared for this, it is a complete shock and surprise.
      • Once the narrative is lost, it is EXTREMELY difficult to regain it.
      • When we get to tell our story, we get to explain how we feel at that point, but we can also speak from the viewpoint of past situations. It is likely that in suppressing how we really felt or how we wanted to react, but couldn’t, the memories and opinions of others will be quite different. The importance is being able to correct those memories and thoughts. If we can’t do this, the incorrect version will continue to be floated as the truth.
      • Suppressing our true feelings takes a toll. It takes an investment of time and energy in order to hide what we know to be true. It is time and energy that could be put to much better use.
      • Until we come out, we won’t experience any positive energies from others. Often the reactions that we receive are much better than we ever would have expected, but we’ll never know unless we do come out.

      I’m originally from Ohio and many still remember the legendary football coach from Ohio State, Woody Hayes. He was never fond of the forward pass. He explained this by saying: “Three things can happen when you pass and two of them are bad!”.

      When we get outed, about the only that can happen that might be good is that our secret is now out. We don’t have to invest in maintaining the lie. However, since it is unlikely that we get to tell our story, I think all that does  is exchange one form of stress for another.

    • #139049
      Emily Alt

      When I think about coming out, 2 things always come to mind.  Owning the narrative, and not wanting to hide anymore.  I’ll talk about the latter first because it holds more weight than the former.

      Not wanting to hide is closely tied to decades of denial.  Simply put, I’ve been hiding for decades and I’m sick of it.  I have a strong need to shed the male facade I’ve worn for years.  It hurts emotionally to present as someone I’m not….to hide.  Not wanting to hide is the single biggest reason I’m out to most people that know me.

      When I decided to transition, I knew I couldn’t do it without coming out.  Eventually, the physical changes would be impossible to hide.  And if I ignored that fact, sooner or later I would get outed by someone else.  If I let that happen, I’m forfeiting the narrative to someone else.  They’re the one that starts the conversation, spreads the rumors, and very possibly a lot of damaging misinformation.  Then I’m on the defensive….and possibly in damage control mode.  Far better to seize the narrative by coming out on my terms.  I get to control the how and when of the message.  I get to speak facts and the truth.  And maybe I’ll get an opportunity to change a skeptic into an ally.  It’s very difficult to turn the tables once you’ve forfeited the narrative to someone else.


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