How to Come Out As a Gay or Lesbian Teen

So you're a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual teen, and you haven't told anybody yet. And, admit it, the closet isn't always a good place to be. This how-to is here to help you pull yourself out in a fairly painless fashion. With the help provided in this how-to, we can all become better people through unity.


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    Make sure of your sexual orientation. Make sure it feels right for you. If you're still feeling ashamed, insecure or uncomfortable with a label, don't define yourself with it. Come out to whoever it feels right to come out to when it feels right. You don't have to come out to the entire world at once and you don't even have to know what specific label you want to give yourself. If you tell someone close to you that you're still figuring it out, they might even be able to help you define yourself.
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    Make sure you will be safe if you tell people. People have been thrown out of their homes or had their safety threatened. Don't endanger yourself. If your family is very homophobic, they may not take the news very well. They may attempt to change you. In such situation, silence may be best until you can survive on your own. Alternatively, if there is a school counselor whom you trust and is good at handling such situations, tell him or her about your sexual orientation and wish to come out to your parents. The counselor can act as a medium between you and them, to ensure your safety.
    • If you aren't sure how someone will react, you can drop a hint or two, and try asking for their opinions about LGBT celebrities or a hypothetical LGBT friend.
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    Before coming out, think of what questions they might ask and have answers in mind just in case. For example, if you've dated someone of the opposite sex before, a friend or family member might ask, "What about your ex boyfriend/girlfriend?" or if you're transgender, pansexual, asexual, or identify by a similarly lesser known label, it may be necessary to explain what the word means. Some people may also have misconceptions about the labels you identify as, so it may be a good idea to research things like that so you can explain it.
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    Start with close friends. You can always know that your closest friends are more likely to be the ones who accept you. If your friends have said negative things about gays and lesbians, it might not be wise to tell them. The reality is that not everyone is alright with homosexuality yet, and this could include your family. It's very important that you have a safety net to fall into in case your family rejects you.
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    Come out in a way that feels good. When you're comfortable, it feels so much better to come out. If you're scared of someone's reaction, go out in public so they can't do anything to you. If you don't want too many people to know instantly, talk to someone in private first. Come out to the people you want to come out to, even if that means only telling one of your parents or only your friends and not your family. Think about how you're going to tell them, what you're going to say and what you're comfortable sharing or would rather keep to yourself for now.
    • It's always a good idea to come right out with your statement. Beating around the bush or dodging the subject might (1): scare your friend or family member; or (2): give the impression that you're ashamed. Instead, simply make your statement calmly and then discuss as necessary.
      • As an example, a good conversation would be: "Hey, bro, I called you here because I have something important to share with you. I'm gay." or "I'm so lucky to have a good friend like you that I can confide in. I've been going through something and I'm hoping I'll be able to count on you for your friendship and support once I let you know that I'm a lesbian." Don't try to cushion or sugar coat it too much; let them know it's important to you, and then just take a deep breath and say it.
    • If you're scared to come out face to face to someone, call them! You can also send a text or even change your relationship status on Facebook and wait for them to figure it out. This is also a way to come out to parents who might try to harm you or force you to go to "recovery", since they now can't reach you unless you allow them to.
    • If you know the person you're coming out to is okay with it and you're fully comfortable with it, get creative! It's always fun to be able to tell a "coming out story" about the time you walked out of a closet with a rainbow cake or how you danced out of a self-made "closet" to a gay anthem. This might even lighten the mood and make you less nervous by making it a more fun and light-hearted experience, rather than feeling like you're sitting someone down to tell them an incredibly serious and big thing.
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    Allow time for people to process and assimilate this revelation. Some family members and/or friends may need a little time to get used to the idea. Be gentle with them and give them time to come around. Remember, you didn't just wake up one day and say, "Wow. I'm gay." You took some time to accept it within yourself, so others will too.
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    Understand that this is something that might have an impact on certain aspects of your life. Some friends may need to detach for a while, some family members may act differently towards you. Your parents may even feel different and may react a bit angrily towards you. Others will be drawn to you. Things will change, but if you are patient and don't try to force the issue - while at the same time, refusing to suppress or deny it - there's a good chance those changes will end up being very positive.
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    Live out without being in people's faces about it. It's great once you're out because then people are aware from the beginning of your relationship of who you are - there is no difficult "revelation" later on. If you are comfortable with your casual acquaintances knowing, then the sooner, the better. When people know who you are from the start, they are more willing to simply accept you as you are. It becomes harder to tell people after you've known them for a while, because they have formed an idea of who you are in their own heads without knowing properly. As more people in your social circle come to know you as an LGBT teen, you'll have less explaining to do. But flaming around is only really funny and entertaining on television or amongst others in the LGBT community. However, you should just act as you feel like you want to, not as you are told to do since you're queer or extra "normal" because you don't want to seem like a stereotype.
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    Be able and willing to discuss your orientation with sincerely interested individuals. Of course, you shouldn't put up with people who just want to harass and humiliate you or make you the butt of jokes. But if, for example, a jock makes a joke, like "Don't touch me, I might catch it", and you respond with something like, "Hey, what did I ever to do to you?" sometimes it can be turned around. He may respond with, "Well, my brother thinks he's gay now. Maybe it is catching". You can say, "Oh, wow, was it a big surprise to you? Do your folks know?" and if he is receptive to talking, you may turn this into a good thing for all of you. Responding with "Would it help to let him know he could talk to me?" might make the jock feel a lot more kindly toward both you and his brother, and toward the LGBT community in general. That's the way we help move others toward tolerance and acceptance.
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    Remember: Coming out is a process. It takes time - don't rush it.


  • Only you can say who you are. Never be afraid to be yourself.
  • Talk to other lesbian, gay, or bisexual people around your age online who have came out and ask them for advice. You could post a bulletin asking for advice anonymously. Others who have been through a similar situation can offer tips on how to do it - and possibly how to deal with any bad reactions there may be.
  • If you want to get involved with the LGBT community, go right ahead, but don't expect your family and friends to jump right in with you. It takes time for them to acclimate to this news, so be sure you don't take it personally if they don't want to come to Pride with you.
  • Don't be defined by a label. You can choose what you call yourself, but remember that labels are superficial things that humans make up to categorize.
  • Remember that sexual orientation is only one of many characteristics that define one's identity. A gay businessman may have virtually nothing in common with a gay artist. Don't become a "PG" (Professional Gay) or let sexual orientation become your primary identity.
  • To drop hints about your homosexuality before you come out might be a good idea so when you do come out, so the news isn't TOO shocking and out-of-the-blue to the people that you are coming out to. For example, if you are hanging out with a group of straight friends and they comment on the good looks of someone of the opposite sex, just say "Oh. I didn't really notice. But the (boy if you are gay/girl if you are lesbian) at the store earlier was attractive."
  • Make sure you are certain of yourself first. There is no rush on your sexuality - no time limit. Take your time to be certain before you shout your pride from the rooftops. Coming out once is hard enough, and the more times you "come out" to people the easier it is.
  • Bringing up LGBT issues from time to time before coming out as gay can help prepare people — for example, seeing something on the news about same-sex marriage can spark a discussion and give you a chance to gauge how your friends or family feel about homosexuality.
  • If you have other LGBT friends, try to talk to them about coming out. They've most likely been in the same situation before, they know about it and you can trust them.
  • If your orientation causes you to be teased or bullied, consider your options, stay strong, but know that discretion is the better part of valor. That means that if it makes more sense for you to keep it on the down low because flaming around irritates people who are antagonistic in the first place, it's smarter to be discreet than to flame on.
  • If you think that anybody you come out to might not take the news too well, write some sort of script for yourself. Prepare for the worst-case scenario. It can be difficult to ad-lib if you're facing criticism or adverse reaction.
  • Try and just slip it into a conversation. It will make it easier and less abrupt.
  • Remember that coming out is not something that only happens once. It is a gradual process, as you come out to different people at different times.


  • Don't tell everyone you know, just tell your family and your good friends whom you know well and can trust.
  • If you aren't bisexual, don't come out as bisexual to soften the blow when you tell people you're gay. Not only will you look confused about who you are, you're giving people who are bisexual a bad name in the process. If you're gay, come out as gay.
  • It is great to be proud of who you are, but be careful as well. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world where everyone unconditionally accepts each other for who we are. Stay safe. If you are in an area or situation where you feel unsafe, leave it. If you are a place that you can't leave (such as school) and feel unsafe, try to always have a friend with you and let authority figures know immediately of any mistreatment and definitely of any harm. Being hospitalized is far worse than being outed.
  • If you are unsure, and believe that if you come out it will be a danger to you, then don't do it. Your life is more important and sometimes keeping a secret can be safer than you may think.
  • Also be careful on online communities. Just because you're on a forum for LGBT(s) doesn't mean everyone is necessarily LGBT. They could be posing as one. They could still be confused themselves. They could also be straights who have 'decided' they're gay, lesbian or bisexual.

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Categories: Coming Out as LGBT