Coming Out of the Closet

Gender, Sexuality, Coming Out as Another Sexual Orientation or Gender
Curated By
Keiko McCullough

Keiko McCullough is a doctoral student at Indiana University Bloomington studying Counseling Psychology. Keiko graduated summa cum laude from the University of Akron with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2015. Her research interests, broadly, focus on the intersections of race, gender, and new media. She additionally studies men of color and masculinities, Asian American mental health, positive psychology, and feminist issues.

They Might Be Thinking:

  • My family will disown me.
  • I don't want people to know.
  • What will my life be like now?
  • This will be such a long process to tell everyone that needs to know.
  • I feel ashamed and embarrassed that I am different.
  • I don’t want people to think of me differently.
  • I feel like I just want to hide from this part of my life.
  • I am so mad everyone always assumes I am heterosexual / cisgender.
  • Other people may not be sensitive if I come out.
  • Something is wrong with me.
  • I won’t feel safe.
  • Everyone will hate me.
  • I am feeling suicidal.

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • I am here for you, if you need me.
  • If you are feeling suicidal and need to talk to a professional, you can call this number 1-800-273-8255.
  • How can I best support you?
  • I imagine this has been difficult for you to process alone.
  • How has this been affecting you?
  • I appreciate you sharing this personal part of yourself with me.
  • I accept you for you. 
  • It makes me happy that you are thinking about who you are and growing as a person.
  • I think you are moving toward the best version of yourself.
  • I admire your courage in sharing this part of yourself with others.
  • I am always here to listen to you and to talk about whatever you’d like.
  • Are there certain spaces where people do not know? I want to respect your boundaries.
  • It may not be easy, but you are strong. I believe in your ability to live authentically.
  • Let me know if you ever want to vent. We might not have the same experiences, but yours are valid and I want to support you.  

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • This is just a phase.
  • How do you know? 
  • You can’t be [insert sexual orientation or gender].
  • I don’t know what it means to be [insert sexual orientation or gender]. (Instead, try “Tell me more about what this has been like for you.” If you remain confused, you can search the internet later.)
  • Don’t tell anyone else.
  • People will treat you differently if you come out.
  • How are you going to have kids? 
  • Don’t be so selfish; think about your family.
  • When did you realize you were [insert sexual orientation or gender]?
  • I didn’t need to know this about you.
  • I have a friend who is [insert sexual orientation or gender]. I can hook you two up.
  • Good thing people are way more accepting now. 
  • I am sure it will be easier for you now that you’ve come out. 
  • You don’t seem [insert sexual orientation or gender]. 
  • You’ll go to hell for this. 
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