Today, most of us hope that we are the type of person that somebody would feel safe to come out to. And it’s true that many people are working towards becoming better, more accepting, and more open-minded versions of themselves. While the world is much more open-minded today than it used to be, however, coming out can often be an anxiety-inducing experience for many people.
Even if your family and loved ones are supportive of whoever you are in life and will continue to love you no matter your sexual orientation or gender identity, it’s not always quite that simple. Coming out might be a relief for some, helping them feel like they are free to be the truest and most authentic version of themselves, but the process can also come with a lot of anxiety, worries about the future, fears about not being accepted in some circles and, in some cases, even a feeling of loss of the person that you used to be before coming out.
The truth is that any life change can impact our mental health, even when we know that the change is for the better, and it’s something that helps us live our lives as our most authentic self, such as coming out. Many celebrities who have come out, such as Kristin Stewart for example, ask for privacy after making the announcement because, simply put, it can be a lot to process. Some people might find that, after coming out, people have lots of questions that they are not even sure they have the answer to themselves. If you feel like this right now, working through it with an LGBTQIA+-friendly therapist may be helpful. Click this link for more info on LGBT therapy and how to get support.
Fear of judgement
Despite having family and friends who you know will love you no matter what, many people’s mental health can be affected by coming out when they think about the wider public and how they might be judged by less open-minded people in the future. It can often take a lot of bravery to come out if you are in a situation where you will need to inform people who are not your immediate family and friends. In some cases, it could involve things like changing your pronouns, which is becoming more and more understood and accepted, but there are still some people who claim that they don’t understand it. For example, when Demi Lovato announced that they would be going by they/them pronouns, not everybody was as accepting as they could have been—although it’s worth saying that they did get a lot of love and support from fans all around the world.
The prospect of others not understanding or even judging you can be a tough one to face and can be worth working through with a therapist if you’re thinking of coming out but are worried about others’ reactions.
Loss of close people
Not everybody who comes out will have supportive, loving family and friends—which can be very tough on your mental health. Most of us want nothing more than for the people who are most important to us in our lives to just accept us for who we are but, sadly, this doesn’t always happen. People have their strong opinions and beliefs, and many are completely oblivious to how they are actually hurting others in the process. But try as you might, it can sometimes be impossible to open somebody’s mind and convince them that you are still the same person regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Some people are more committed to their religious beliefs than their families, for example, and in this case, coming out often involves the fraught and devastating process of deciding whether or not to allow certain people to remain a part of your life if they cannot accept you for who you are.
Uncertainty about yourself
Finally, one aspect of coming out that does not get talked about enough is feeling uncertain of yourself. Many people go through years of wondering why they feel a certain way about certain people, or even themselves, before realizing it is because they are LGBTQIA+. In some cases, for example, if you were brought up in a family where homosexuality was frowned upon, you may have trouble recognizing your feelings of attraction towards the same sex as who they are, and repress your sexuality and identity.
Coming out can be difficult for your mental health if you are still not sure yourself about who you are. Once again, talking to a therapist can be a useful way to get clarity and learn to be more in tune with your authentic self.
Coming out is often celebrated, but it can also be tough on your mental health in many situations.