What to Know About Coming Out as LGBTQ & Its Connection to Estrangement
Coming out is a deeply personal, often incredibly challenging and nerve-wracking experience. There are many things that LGBTQ+ people must consider when deciding on whether or not to come out to their loved ones. One thing that those within non-affirming families have to consider all too often is the possibility of estrangement and/or disownment from their family members.
Coming Out: Factors to Consider
When it comes to coming out, and regardless of where you’re at in your understanding of your sexuality and comfortability disclosing this information to those in your life, we want you to know that we understand how challenging this decision can be and how much weight it holds. If you are considering your options and thinking about coming out to a family member, there are some important things to consider beforehand.
Possibility of an Unsafe Environment
First and foremost, it is important for you to consider whether or not it is safe for you to come out right now. Often, events like Pride Month or time spent in LGBTQ+ affirming spaces can lead one to feel a rush of excitement about their identity, and it’s common to want to share your identity, which you are rightfully becoming proud of.
However, if your home environment or living situation could potentially become hurtful, toxic, turbulent, or abusive, it is important to put your safety ahead of coming out. There is no timeline on coming out, and you will eventually find yourself in a more affirming space. Your safety right now is what comes first.
Possible Loss of Relationships
The second thing to consider when deciding whether or not to come out is the possibility of loss of relationships and/or estrangement from one or multiple people. If you are in a non-affirming familial space, estrangement could be a very real possibility, and its ramifications are something to consider.
Do you have a backup plan if things escalate? Could the potential outcome harm your mental health? If coming out will be to the severe detriment of your mental health or physical safety, please do not feel pressured to come out. This is your decision to make and your timeline.
What to Do If Coming Out Leads to Estrangement
The first thing to consider if you have come out and it has led to estrangement is how to prioritize your safety. If you are experiencing disownment or an unsafe environment due to disclosing your sexuality and/or gender identity, please refer to the resources found at the bottom of this article and our article on handling crisis situations during estrangement.
Taking Care of Yourself and Knowing Your Worth
We want you to know that, no matter how others have treated you for your sexuality and/or your gender identity, you are not alone, and you are so worthy of finding loving, affirming spaces with people who accept you.
There are a few ways you can hold space for yourself and take care of yourself during this difficult time. If you are struggling with your mental health, here are some ways that you can find support and take care of yourself:
Talk about it: If you have an LGBTQ+ affirming friend, family member, or another source of support in your life, talking about your struggles and having a shoulder to lean on can be immensely helpful.
Find healthy outlets for expression: Estrangement, particularly when it is paired with disownment, can be an immensely difficult emotional experience. It’s important to take time for yourself to remember what you enjoy, what makes you you, and what brightens up your day during difficult times like this.
Find affirming spaces: Whether it is online or in person, there are spaces where you can find acceptance and love. LGBTQ+ spaces online are a great place to start. If your school has an LGBTQ+ organization or something similar, that would be another great way to find affirming people and resources.
Seek outside help: While therapy may not always be an accessible resource, if you do have access to mental health services, they can be a great place to find support. If you do not have access to therapy, there are other mental health resources out there for LGBTQ+ people, which you can learn more about below.
Read About Our Estranged LGBTQ+ and BIPOC Scholarship