Why Don't I Want to Come Out?

Advice for When You're Scared to Come Out

Two teenage boys hanging out together
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Once a teen realizes that they are gay or bisexual, it seems like the next logical step is to come out. But coming out can be really scary. Are you afraid to come out even though you're 100% sure your friends and family would still love you? Even if you think you will be supported, coming out isn't for every teen.

Why You Might Be Afraid to Come Out

No one else can completely answer that for you but we can give you some ideas.

  1. Coming out isn't always a good experience. While it would be great if coming out went well for everyone, sometimes it just goes badly.
  2. Coming out is really personal. When you tell people you are GLBT, you are sharing something incredibly intimate about yourself that might make you feel exposed and vulnerable, even if you are supported by your friends and family.
  3. Coming out forces you to talk about sex. Obviously, sexual orientation is about a whole lot more than sex, but sex isn't absent from the equation. We don't ask straight youth to publicly identify or even acknowledge who they are attracted to, yet we are sort of doing this when we expect GLBT teens to come out.

Figuring out your own sexual orientation is actually only one part of the equation. You might decide to come out right after this, or not for a long time.

Sometimes there is pressure to come out, but coming out when the time is right for you, not when it fits into someone else's timetable, is key.

Try Coming Out in Stages

One suggestion we've heard from another teen is to try coming out in stages

"If I were you, I'd start with my family - maybe a sibling that you're close to first, then your parents. Then, if they are cool with it, that should boost your confidence enough to tell your friends - your closest friends first. But even if people are slightly uncomfortable with you at first, it'll probably wear off after a little while - don't worry! People may not understand at first, but none of your close friends will laugh at you. If you're still scared of telling people, come out first to: any gays or bisexuals you know; best friends; people you know are cool with homosexuality etc."

This is solid advice. While we often think about coming out as one big announcement, for most people, it is something that happens with different people at different times.

Finding even one person who you can talk to about this can be really helpful. You might not be ready to come out to all your friends and family, but identifying one person you trust with whom you can share what you are going through might make you feel a lot less confused and stressed out.

It is perfectly normal to not want to come out. This isn't something you should feel bad about and you should force yourself to come out if you aren't ready. Take your time and cut yourself a break!