About the importance of coming out at your own pace

About the importance of coming out at your own pace

Pride month has made me think back a lot to years when I first started exploring my sexuality. I first realized I was into girls when I was 11 years old, a year before starting middle school. At that point, most of the girls in my class were getting interested in guys, had crushes on the guys in our class and found their first boyfriend. I didn’t understand it. So, I started identifying as lesbian, even though I had one or two male celebrity crushes. But I didn’t tell anyone, it didn’t feel safe and it didn’t feel right. And when, at the age of 16, I realized I was not lesbian but bisexual, I didn’t tell anyone either.

It took me until I was 21 to properly come out to a few people, and didn’t come out to most of my friends and family until I was 23. That’s a long time to be closeted, and some may say that’s unhealthy. And I get where those people are coming from, and definitely, agree with them to some extent. Coming out has improved my mental health, and being out has made me a much happier person. But I waited until I was in a safe environment, and until I felt strong enough to do so, and I’m glad I did. Coming out can be difficult, scary, life-changing, and potentially dangerous, and it’s important people get to do it at their own pace.

Coming out to my family, friends, coworkers and teachers on Instagram

No words for what happened today. A president that doesn’t believe in global warming, a rapist, sexist, racist, homophobic. The world got a little worse. But I really want to say is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while but never did for some strange reason. And some of you might know already. But on a shitty day like this, I want to grab the opportunity to come out to whoever who didn’t know it yet. I’m bisexual. I’ve known since I was 11 and first fell in love with Liv Tyler, then Angelina Jolie. There you go, I’ve said it. And living in Norway, I’ve never felt scared or unsafe saying these words. Today changes that somewhat. But I wanted to share it anyway. Trump became president thanks to a country of scared people. But I don’t want to let my fears and worries decide what I do or say. Not today.

– How I came out to everyone, including family and coworkers, on Instagram the day after Trump got elected.

Because let’s face it, coming out can still be dangerous. My parents may tell me now that being bisexual doesn’t change anything, but the situation at home at home was pretty bad when I was a child and teenager, and I’m pretty sure coming out would have made things worse, or at least added a layer of complexity I wouldn’t have been able to deal with back then. Keeping my sexuality to myself was simply the safest and smartest thing to do.

But it’s also not just about safety. Coming out can have a big impact on one’s mental health as well. Showing vulnerability and being open about your identity to others is not easy, and demands a lot of strength and confidence. And it’s especially hard to come out if you haven’t fully accepted yourself yet, or are doubting your identity, or don’t feel mentally strong enough yet to deal with comments and questions from others. It took me a while to understand what my bisexuality meant to me, and during that period of uncertainty others’ opinions would only have made me doubt my sexuality more.

My point is, coming out is great, but it’s ok to take it slowly. It’s fine to wait until you’re stronger, until your safer, or until you’re feeling more confident. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking your time, and you don’t even owe everyone a proper coming out. This is about you and who you are, not about them. And whether you’re open about your sexuality/gender identity or not, no matter who you’re out to, your identity is still valid. None of this changes who you are, it doesn’t make you any less you, and doesn’t invalidate your feelings. We’re all doing this at our own pace, and in a way that makes us feel good and safe. And that’s ok.

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