It’s 2017, and you’ve decided it is time to tell some folks the truth about you: you’re gay, you’ve BEEN gay, and you’re tired of hiding it in both big and small ways. If you’ve been agonizing about exactly how to tell people you’re gay let me say this first: the most important part of this exchange is YOU. Your needs, your feelings, your future, and your lifestyle. This conversation can be short and sweet.
- Convey your message in simple language so no one gets it twisted:
“Hello? It’s me. I was wondering if you knew that I’m gay. Yes? You suspected already? Ok great just checking, I thought I’d officially confirm it. M’kay bye!” (Hang up phone and start belting out lyrics to your favorite power workout song.)
“Hello? It’s me. I was wondering if you knew that I’m gay. No? Ok well glad I checked because I am. Hella gay. Happy to share with you some ways you could support me, if you’re interested. If not, we can talk about something else now.”
This is an exercise in getting something off your chest for you, about you. Maybe the person you’ve told has questions about ‘how sure you are’, ‘if this could be a phase’, or feels compelled to wonder out loud if ‘maybe you just haven’t met the right person yet.’ If the person you’ve just told you’re gay responds with doubtful comments and questions you can respond like this:
2. Convey you do not have doubts about your sexuality. If they have difficulty believing you are in fact, gay, they should work through those feelings on their own. Maybe they need some professional support and/or expertise to become better informed about how sexuality works.
“It seems like you’re having a hard time believing that I understand my own feelings and my own sexuality. What if I were asking you these same questions about your sexuality? I don’t want to debate my sexuality, just like I’m sure you don’t want to debate yours.”
“It sounds like you could use some time to think about what I’ve just told you, based on your comments and questions. I’ve already thought A LOT about it, and I’m done now. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m gay. There’s nothing else to think about- I’m gay, the end. When you’ve reached that place too, you’ll feel at peace with it, just like I do.”
3. Convey you have choices about how you live your life, and the people in it. Make it clear that while you’d like your personal and professional relationships to remain unaffected by your sexuality, the fact is some people will have a hard time accepting this. The best thing you can do is surround yourself with people who respect and support your goals and are willing to treat you fairly regardless of your sexuality. This will be a lifelong endeavor, but worth the effort so that you can live your best, happiest, most fulfilled life.
“I understand there will be people who won’t like me because I’m gay. That’s not really any different than people who might not like you (or anyone for that matter) because of things they can’t change about themselves. If someone doesn’t like me because I’m gay that’s their problem not mine.”
“Maybe it’s not obvious, but I’d rather not have to deal with people treating me unfairly or excluding me from opportunities or even basic rights because I’m gay. The best thing I can do is pursue personal relationships and professional opportunities that allow me to be myself, grow, and pursue fulfilling goals. It would be great if you could support me. If not, I understand that’s your choice. You should understand it’s my choice to build a support group of people who accept me.”
The emotional toll of having these conversations should not be underestimated. It’s normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and exhausted by the prospects of sharing news about yourself that may not be well-received. This is a good time to invest in regular self care activities and connect with people who accept and support you as you are.
Telling people you’re gay need not be a long, complicated, agonizing conversation. You do not have to allow anyone to make you feel like you’re wrong, unhealthy, or unlovable. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is your life, and no matter what your sexuality is you can find a way to pursue happiness, love, fulfillment and success. We can’t control how people feel about sexual diversity, but we can take strides to protect ourselves from feeling negatively judged by limiting the air time we give them, and focus our attention on building a life of positive self acceptance.