Stages of Coming Out
So you’ve decided to come out? Get ready for a long process. We’ve identified six distinct steps in
proclaiming your sexual or affectional identity. Even if you decided to buy commercial time on the Super Bowl
to make your announcement, you would discover that you’re still not totally “out of the closet.”
Here’s a short description of each of those six phases, before we explore each in detail deeper in this web site
(follow the links below or work through all of the pages under the “coming out” heading on our top or side
Coming Out To Yourself. You need to have a clear
understanding of who you are as a gay (or bisexual) man and what that identity means to you.
For many of us, identifying ourselves as gay is a lengthy process, itself. It often takes years of
getting to know ourselves before we accept that our attraction to the same sex is natural for us; it’s more
than just a phase that we’ll grow out of. A few lucky males seem to have always known where their
true affections lie. This is probably the most difficult of the stages.
Coming Out Takes Practice. The second stage is to
practice coming out to others. Some choose to come out to a school counselor or a paid
therapist. Others opt to place themselves in a predominantly gay
environment (support group, gay men’s chorus or gay bar). Still others
may first tell a trusted loved one (e.g., a reliable straight or gay friend). Whomever we choose, it
is important to choose someone who will not be judgemental. Read more about this phase, here.
Coming Out To Friends. (The order
in which a gay man comes out to a social circle versus family versus work colleagues will vary, and
some men will not necessarily come out within each of those social institutions.) You can understand
more about coming out to friends by reading this.
Coming Out To Family. Coming out
to family is a source of great fear for many gay males. I strongly urge you to read our section on this
issue, if you have not already come out. This is especially important for young men under the age of 18
or others who are still significantly reliant on their families.
Coming Out At Work. Many men do
not come out in their work place. There are a number of variables that may impact your decision about
this issue, which you may read about here.
Coming Out Is A Continuing Process. If you
want to be truly and completely out, you are never finished! You will always meet new people, and in most
environments those people will assume that you are heterosexual until they learn otherwise. We have some
observations and recommendations about coming out for the rest of your life in this section.
If done thoughtfully, coming out can be an affirming and liberating experience that benefits the individual and
the entire gay community. It can also lead to a tremendously fulfilling life.
Also read some of the first-person, true stories of coming out that we
publish on our site.