As a member of the LGBT+ community, you likely have some anxious feelings and thoughts about coming out to your family, friends, and the world as a whole. If this is something you have been grappling with recently, therapy can be a huge asset in this process. In order to learn how, continue on.
Stages to coming out
Although there is no right or wrong way to come out as a member of the LGBT+ community, there are six stages many people go through while coming out. There is no set timeline for how long you may be in each stage or when you will truly begin your journey. Everyone’s experience is valid and unique to themselves.
The first stage of the coming out process is actually beginning to realize your feelings surrounding your gender identity and/or sexuality. A counselor can help to validate your attraction and romantic feelings. This way, you are receiving affirmation from a trusted, outside voice.
Here, you will likely begin to label your feelings. You will start to compare your thoughts to conventional labels and begin to identify with LGBT+ members. Throughout this stage, a therapist can help to provide further resources to educate you on the LGBT+ community.
This is generally the stage many people are in when they fully realize and admit that they are a member of the LGBT+ community. You will begin to accept who you are and what labels you may identify with. In this stage, a counselor can help you work through your internalized homophobia and transphobia.
Now, you will truly accept yourself as a member of the LGBT+ community. It will likely take hard work and lots of help to get to this point in your life. Going to therapy can help you to continually work on self-love and self-acceptance throughout your whole life, but especially when coming out.
When experiencing identity pride, you will probably be more open with your identity and/or gender expression. In this stage, you may develop an “us against the world” mentality. You may begin to dislike and distrust non-members of the LGBT+ community, specifically heterosexual, cisgender people. You will probably have anger towards these people. A therapist will help you to work through this anger.
In this final stage, you will start integrating your sexuality and/or gender identity into every aspect of your personality. This is when you can reconcile all aspects of your personality. A therapist can help you to mend other aspects of yourself you may have neglected when coming out.
Considerations when coming out
As a reminder, everyone’s experience is a little different. Your coming out journey is not a point A to point B transition, but rather a constantly changing path. If you once identified with one label and later change your mind, remember, your experience is valid.
Additionally, when you first decide to come out to someone, consider choosing someone you trust and feel comfortable with. If you do not receive the reaction you were expecting or wishing for, do not give up hope. Remember, there is nothing wrong with who you love.
Ask for help
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are never alone. The LGBT+ community is full of loving people who are excited to welcome you with open arms. If you are struggling, consider looking online for support groups or chat rooms where you can speak to other members of the community.
Reaching out to a trained professional will help you to ease through the coming out process. Of course, we are always available as a resource. Reach out today to get started down the path toward a true, authentic you with LGBTQ+ Counseling.