Stages of Coming Out After Accepting Your Sexuality
Self-Recognition as Gay First Step in Coming Out
Accepting your sexuality involves more than just the realization of feelings towards the same sex and generally, there are stages to coming out. It often involves a period of denial, rejection of feelings, anxiety, counseling and maybe even a renewed religious commitment in order to overcome these feelings. Hopefully, a period of acceptance will follow these feelings of stress and grief.
The process of accepting one's sexuality, for some people, has been described as an emotional rollercoaster. This rollercoaster is characterized with periods of highs filled with confidence and a desire to come out of the closet, followed by periods of lows filled with confusion and fear. You are not alone in this process. You should speak with someone who has gone through the stages of coming out before and understands your feelings.
Telling Others You Are Gay
While coming out and talking about being gay to others is a slow process, it generally starts with a close friend or family member. Rejection by this person may cause a backlash to the self-recognition stage of coming out (the coming out stage wherein you recognize you are gay); however, acceptance by this person generally leads to an increase in self-esteem and confidence. Be very careful about who you tell first so this is a positive experience.
There are generally two types of disclosures, a "gentle" disclosure and a "loud" disclosure:
- The "gentle" method does not immediately volunteer the information until the individual is flat-out asked.
- The "loud" disclosure involves telling everyone in order to leave no doubt about the issue.
As this stage of coming out continues, the individual gains a general sense of what it means to be gay and chooses to either accept or reject different stereotypes and perceptions regarding gays.
Socialization with Other Gays
Socialization with other gays is important when accepting your sexuality in that it gives a sense of inclusion to a new world, erasing feelings of loneliness. Pride and self-esteem are built through acceptance, validation and support. Contact with positive gay and lesbian role models can be very influential and beneficial.
This stage of coming out is simply about seeking out other positive homosexual relationships and finding a comfort level with oneself regarding your sexuality.
Integration and Acceptance
This requires openness and acceptance of your own sexuality. Even if you are quietly open regarding your homosexuality, you can still be readily available to help support others with their struggles. In general, at this stage of coming out, couples live happily and seek other couples to socialize with.
Openness is often tied to age. While older people may be less open and more set in their ways, younger men are more often more open, politically active and visible in the gay community.
Last Updated: 18 August 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD