Should I Come out of the Closet?

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Question: Should I come out of the closet?

You've admitted to yourself that you like girls. You've decided that you're a lesbian, or at least bisexual, so it's time to tell everyone you know, right? Not so fast. Here are some things to consider before you come out of the closet.

Answer: Yes, coming out is good and it's the first logical step after you realize you are attracted to the same sex. But before you go announcing your sexual orientation to your parents, classmates and friends, slow down a minute and consider a few things.

Coming Out Can Be Liberating

A secret that you once held deep inside you is now out in the open. Most people report that coming out is one of the most freeing things they've ever done and talk about feeling a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. Those are the good things.

But There Are Risks Involved Too

If you are coming out to your parents while you still live with them, they can place restrictions on you that you may not be ready for. For example, they may forbid you from seeing your girlfriend. Also, schools can still be an unfriendly place for LGBT youth. Taunting of gay students sometimes happens. Coming out at work has its own risks. As of 2016, in 28 states it's still legal to be fired for being gay.

Even with negative things that can happen, most people still find coming out to be a positive thing. Consider the following before you come out:

Make Sure You're Ready

Before you tell anyone about your sexual orientation, make sure you are comfortable with it yourself.

If you are still questioning and not sure, it's okay to talk about that to a trusted friend or relative. If you're not certain that you're lesbian or bisexual, it may be hard to convince a less-than supportive friend or relative.

Choose Who You Tell

The best person to tell first is the person who you think will be most supportive.

Start out with a good friend, someone who already is gay or has lots of gay friends.

Understand the Consequences

Although people are not as closed-minded as they used to be, there is still a lot of homophobia out there in the world. If you tell one person about your sexual orientation, she may blab it to others and soon everyone in your life will know. Are you ready for that?

You may feel safe telling a close friend, but telling your parents might be a different situation. If you are underage and still live with your parents, they have a lot of control over your life. Read this before coming out to your parents.

Get Educated

Understand what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Be prepared to answer questions your friends or family might have.

What caused you to be gay?
How do you know you're a lesbian?

Is being gay a choice?

Get Support

No matter who you're going to tell, make sure that there is one person you know you can get support from. Coming out is hard. You might want a hug when you're through.