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Coming Out Handbook

Coming Out Handbook

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Published by Linc Centre
Coming Out Handbook
Coming Out Handbook

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Published by: Linc Centre on Nov 15, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Coming Out
How do I know if I’m a lesbian
/bisexual or not?
 Lesbians are women who are attracted to other women. This can be a physical
attraction, emotional attraction or sexual attraction. If you’re a woman
attracted to women, you might be a lesbian. Or you might be bisexual or youmight simply be a straight woman who is attracted to a friend. It may take yousome time to determine which one you are.Some women claim to have known from a very early age that they were lesbian,
or at least knew that there was something ―different‖ about themselves. Othersdon’t come
out until their forties, fifties and even later, after having spent years in a heterosexual marriage. Whatever your situation, what is most
important is that you’re taking the time now to try and figure it out and get to
know yourself better.A study of human sexuality in the 1950s determined that most people have some degree of attraction to both sexes. The generally accepted figure is that tenpercent of the population is gay,lesbian or bisexual.
Is lesbianism normal?
 Lesbianism is normal for lesbians. You cannot determine who you are attractedto any more than you can determine the color of your eyes.In the 1970s, the American Psychological Association and the AmericanPsychiatric Association revised their positions on homosexuality. Bothdetermined that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. In 1994, the American
Medical Association released a statement saying, ―Most of the emotional
disturbance experienced by gay men and lesbians around their sexual identity isnot based on physiological causes but rather is due more to a sense of alienation
in an unaccepting environment.‖
Nonetheless, some people might try to tell you
that you are sick and that you need professional help to ―change.‖
Noscientifically valid evidence exists that shows that people can change theirsexual orientation, although some people do repress it. The most reputablemedical and psychotherapeutic groups say you should not try to change yoursexual orientation- psychologists who offer such services will be struck offfrom their professional register
Some people come out when someone asks them if they’re gay, lesbian or
bisexual. Others make a point of pullin
g people aside and saying, ―There’ssomething I have to tell you.‖
If you choose the latter option, ask yourself:
Who is the most open-minded and caring person I know who is also the least
likely to be shocked, threatened or put off?‖
This might be a friend, a relative
or a teacher. Tell that person that you’d like to talk to them about your sexual
or that you’re trying to be more honest and you’d like to talk. Say you’ve come to them because you trust them.
 You can sometimes get a sense of how accepting your friends and family are bythe thing
s they say, or don’t say, when LGBT issues
come up. You might try tobring it up yourself by talking about such issues in the news, in films, on radio ortelevision shows, or in debates over equal rights. If the reactions from your
friends or members of your family are positive, the chances are that they’ll be
more accepting of you. But keep
in mind that it’s easier for most people toaccept LGBT people in the abstract. It’s a bit different when it’s ―my son‖ or―my daughter‖ or even ―my best friend
Children always want to know the truth about their parents’ sexual orientation
and may already know before being told. But children are not always happy about
the news. It’s a tremendous change to have a parent come out —
particularly if itaccompanies a divorce. Emotions such as anger, sadness and confusion mayemerge. Most of all, children have lots of questions. You (and, potentially, yourpartner) need to make a judgment about whether and when to tell your children.Here are some helpful hints:
• Tell your children in a private space where theconversation will be entirely confidential. • Allow for plenty of time to co
ntinuethe conversation over the next few days and weeks
and years.
• E
xplain yoursexuality shift in an age-
appropriate way. • Reassure your children that you lovethem and that they are your top priority. • Connect them with other children of
LGBT parents (LINC has a parent group). Let them know that they are part of acaring community.Coming out to yourself, your friends and families is a huge part of the journeytoward being honest about your sexual orientation. But coming out is more than just telling those close to you. It is a challenging process that continuesthroughout your life and across all of its facets, as the following sectionsindicate. Many opportunities will arise where you will need to choose whether tocome out as a lesbian or bisexual person. Almost daily, you will face having tomake decisions about when and where to come out. Take as much time as youneed
this is your journey. And be sure to find help via local support groups oronline contacts.Finally, a brief summary of tips and ways to keep yourself as safe as possible
when you decide to come out…
 knowing and accepting yourself. A good way to start this process
if you haven’t
is to t
alk to people who’ve already been through this process, who can
talk to you, suggest books to read etc.people around who care about you and will be there for you, whether it's just totalk or to give you a hug when you need one - or to give you a place to stay, if you need that. If you don't feel that you already have people like that, then it isa really good idea to get to know other lgbt people and form a network of
friends who have the knowledge and resources to offer you some support,before you come out to those who may possibly give you a hard time.people you tell first should be the ones you trust the most. You need tobe able to trust them not to hurt you, to accept you for who you are, and torespect your privacy and not tell anyone you don't want told. Think about what you could lose by telling a particular person. If it's a parent, might they kick youout of the house? Cut you off from your friends? Think also about what youcould lose by not telling a particular person. Is your relationship with yourparents or your friends strained because you're keeping a secret from them?Would you be closer with them, and be able to get more support from them, ifthey understood why you were acting withdrawn? Think about what kinds ofthings you've been able to share with them in the past and how they reacted. Ifthere's someone to whom you want to come out, and you aren't sure how they'llreact, try to feel them out first. We can help you with suggestions on how to dothis.relationship with their parents was much closer after they came out because itwas more honest. They say it was a relief to feel like they weren't keeping asecret any more. But it doesn't always work that way. Some young people whocome out to their parents are forced to leave home. Some parents becomeabusive. Before you come out to your parents, there are some things for you toconsider. Think about your parents' general reaction to gay andLesbian/bisexual people. Find out as much as you can, by observing your parentsor asking indirect questions. Think about your relationship with your parents.Have they shown that they love you even when they're upset with you? Havethey stuck by you even when you've done something they didn't like? Beprepared. If you had to leave home, do you have a place to stay? If your parentscut off financial support, do you have someone else to whom you can turn until you get yourself independently established? If your answer to these questionsis "no" and you are unsure about how your parents will react don't come out to your parents until you have a safe place to go to and a way to support yourself.You'll probably be better off waiting until you're on your own. You might, inextreme circumstances, decide never to tell them, because they wouldn'tunderstand. If your answer to these questions is "yes", then it's probably safeto tell them. That said many parents may appear to be resistant to the notion ofhomosexuality yet when their child comes out to them change their stance
 prejudice about the unknown is often far outweighed by their love for you.if you're terrified about it, you should pay attention to that. Not all parents willbe accepting. If you decide you can and want to tell your parents, think abouthow you can make it easiest on them - and on yourself. Try to think about howthey're going to feel, and the questions they may have, so that you're ready forthem.

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