The Key to Coming Out
May 29, 2011 § 13 Comments
…is coming in, finding self-acceptance. Recently I have received numerous emails asking just how a gay teen should come out be it to their parents, siblings, or friends, and with each answer I always respond with a similar opening statement: before you’ve come out – have you come in yet?
Accepting yourself and increasing your self-confidence is the first thing I advise peers to do when offering them help. Gay or straight, self-acceptance is beyond important for everything we do in life, but for gay teens “coming in” can be the difference between a happy high school career, or one that feels more like Hell. What follows are my tips for accepting yourself and some tools you can use to boost your self-respect when coming out and facing turbulence.
How to Accept your Gay Self
1. Accept that you were born this way:For gay teens in particular, just coming to terms that you are gay can be hard enough. But understanding that you were born this way can be a great start to accepting your gay self. You’re homosexuality is neither the negative consequence of your parents’ sin, nor the devil lurking in your soul, so don’t feel as if you’re sexuality is a punishment. Take pride in knowing who you are and that you are great. Also acknowledge that there are hundreds of thousands of others just like you out there. You are not alone.
2. Write down all your positive attributes and experiences: My friends call this a “pocket full of sunshine” approach to beating the blues, and it’s a pick me up which never fails. Spend some time writing down all of your positive attributes. If you like your eyes, smile, or hair – write it down! If you can name all 50 states in alphabetical order or have a knack for baking cakes, write that down too! And lastly, if you have an experience say – medaling at states in the open 800, or a fond memory of hanging with friends – write it down. This list can be used no matter what mood you’re in to remind yourself that you are great and that you have been happy before (if you’ve been happy before, you can be happy again!)
3. Begin cheering yourself on every day: By far my favorite step to accepting yourself and boosting your confidence is to cheer yourself on. When you walk down the hallways of your school, remind yourself of your positive attributes. Say to yourself: “I can bake a mean red velvet cake, and that makes me great,” then own your talent and feel good about it! You deserve to!
While it’s important not to become egotistical, the aforementioned positive thinking strategy can help combat negative responses to your homosexuality. If you’re being bullied, it can be hard to just walk away and drop that experience. But reminding yourself that you aren’t a lesser human and that you do have good qualities and deserve to be happy can help offset such negativity. At least cheering yourself on should always leave a smile on your face, and that is worth it.
4. Accept your imperfections: Each of us has imperfections which, no matter how hard we try, we are unable to change. I, for example, am blessed with a pointier-than-usual right ear which, aside from surgery, will always be pointier-than-usual. When I was little my sister used to poke fun at me by making me believe I was an elf due to it and was part of a secret elf clan – ridiculous, yes, but I believed it! What’s even more ridiculous? Others believe that a blemish on their face or a less-than-perfect body somehow makes them inferior to everyone, and it’s not true! Accept what imperfections you have that you cannot change and like yourself the way you are.
5. Deem yourself a work in progress: While we should accept our imperfections, our acceptance is not permission to stay flawed in all areas of our life. Recognize that we always have the potential to improve and that we should strive to be the best we can. While I can’t change my pointy ear, I can and should try to better myself in other aspects of my life. Acceptance is not complacence, it is permission to become the people we are meant to be.
6. Learn to Forgive: The final part to accepting yourself is forgiving. Forgive yourself for mistakes made in the past, things you may have said, and those who have slighted you. Once you have forgiven and have let go any baggage you may have, you can move on and accept yourself wholly
To the community: what are your tips or suggestions for accepting yourself? How did you go about finding self-acceptance?