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How Do I Come Out? Understanding Queer Identity and the Role of LGBTQ Counseling

LGBTQ Counseling

Your sexual orientation and gender identity are unique to you. In the same way, how and when you choose to come out is completely your own journey—there are no wrong answers. Some of us find we want to come out as soon as we realize who we are. Others may resist their identity for a number of reasons. Personally, I didn’t come out until my late 30s. I had lived an entire life as a straight man before I found the opportunity and the courage to come out.

That’s just to say: Whatever feels right for you, is right for you. Of course we often have conflicting feelings on this kind of subject. This blog is designed to help you sort out those feelings and get some clarity on your identity and how you want to share that with the world. We’ll talk about the importance of safe spaces, the role a queer therapist may play, and the overall process of coming out.

 

Everyone’s Journey is Different

First and foremost, it’s crucial to recognize that everyone’s journey is different. There’s no universal right or wrong way to come out or understand your queer identity. For some, coming out is a liberating experience they wish to share with everyone they know. For others, it’s a private matter, shared with only a select few, or perhaps kept to oneself. The timing, method, and reasons for coming out are as varied as the individuals themselves. Whether you’re in a relationship, seeking connection with others who share your orientation, or simply want to live authentically, your reasons are valid. It’s also perfectly okay not to come out if you don’t feel safe or ready. Your safety and well-being are paramount.

 

The Role of LGBTQ Counseling

LGBTQ counseling can play a pivotal role in your journey. An LGBTQ counselor or queer therapist can offer a safe space to explore your feelings, fears, and questions about your identity. Counseling provides a supportive environment to discuss the complexities of coming out, dealing with discrimination, or navigating relationships. It’s not uncommon to feel some confusion about one’s sexual identity, especially when first encountering feelings of attraction or gender fluidity. An LGBTQ counselor can help you explore these feelings without bias, providing a safe and private space for you to come to terms with what they may mean for you.

A queer therapist understands the unique challenges faced by the LGBTQ community and can offer tailored advice and support. They have a more nuanced understanding of the pressures that a queer couple may face, and how those societal factors can affect intimacy. They can help you understand your feelings, cope with external stressors, and develop strategies for living authentically. When I sought counseling for myself I remember feeling scared that my therapist wouldn’t understand what I was dealing with.   It was helpful to know that she had experience, and was able to provide a supportive and understanding environment.

 

Recognizing Safe Space

Before coming out, consider the safety and acceptance of the environment you’re in. Assess the overall tolerance level of your community, workplace, and family. It’s important to start where you feel safest, whether that’s among friends, family members, in therapy, or within a specific community.

The Truism Center offers Safe Space Therapy as a guarantee that your concerns and views will be seen from an understanding perspective, with unconditional positive regard. For some, this is the first safe space they may ever encounter.

The unfortunate truth is that not everyone may be accepting of your identity. This is something you’ll want to learn how to navigate. If you’re unsure about how someone might react to your identity, you might gauge their openness by bringing up LGBTQ topics in conversation and observing their response. Remember, you have the right to ask those you tell to keep it private, especially if you’re not ready to come out to everyone.

 

queer therapy

 

When You’re Ready to Share

If you decide to come out, you might start with one trusted person. This could be someone who is compassionate, open-minded, or has experience with LGBTQ issues. The method of coming out—whether face-to-face, through a message, or on social media—should be what feels most comfortable for you. Consider the timing and setting carefully to ensure it’s a safe and supportive environment for the conversation. Personally, I remember sitting across the table in tears with a trusted friend.  He was the first person I told.  His support meant a lot to me.

Prepare for a variety of reactions, including questions and potential disbelief. It’s important to remember that your identity is valid, regardless of others’ responses. You’re not obligated to answer any questions you’re uncomfortable with. Setting firm boundaries about your identity and the support you seek is crucial.

 

Moving Forward At Your Pace

After coming out, clarify with those you’ve told about your preferences regarding sharing this information with others. It’s okay to take control of your narrative and decide who knows and when. Providing resources to help others understand and support you can be beneficial. However, it’s essential to brace yourself for a range of reactions and not take negative responses personally. Surround yourself with a supportive community, whether through friends, support groups, or counseling.

 

Remember, It’s Your Journey

Ultimately, coming out and understanding your queer identity is about you. It should happen on your terms, at your pace, and in a way that feels right for you. Coming out is an ongoing process, and you may find yourself navigating it repeatedly throughout your life. The world assumes heterosexuality as a default, which means you might have to assert your identity in various contexts over time.

LGBTQ counseling can be a valuable resource throughout this journey, offering guidance, support, and a safe space to explore your identity. Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey, somewhere in the middle, or haven’t even started yet, know that your experiences and feelings are valid. There is support available, and you’re not alone. Embracing your queer identity is a path to living authentically and fully, and it’s a journey worth taking, no matter how you choose to navigate it.

 

 

Robb Kornoelje is the owner of The Truism Center, a relationship enthusiast, a gay man, and the creator of the “30-Day Relationship Challenge.” This 30-day, fully online email course offers gentle guidance to identify behaviors causing trouble, find ease with emotions, and enhance self-awareness. With a focus on stress-free communication, the challenge encourages a stronger connection with others, nurturing compassion, and fostering forgiveness. Join Robb on this journey to improve the fabric of your relationships—one day at a time.

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