Why Don't I Want to Come Out?

Two teenage boys hanging out together
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Question: Why Don't I Want to Come Out?

Even if you think you will be supported, coming out isn't for every teen.


A teen writes:

"So I sort of like girls, but I definitely prefer a cute boy. So I guess that makes me bisexual. I kind of denied that I was into guys for a long time but now I'm absolutely sure. Now that I know I like guys, the next thing is, do I come out?

The main problem is the obvious one: will my friends still like me and will my family be accepting? I'm 99.99% sure that my family would be fine with it and I am 100% sure that my best friends would still love me. So WHY DONT I WANT TO COME OUT???

At first, I thought maybe I was scared of being ridiculed by people I'm not friends with. But I know myself and I know that I would not deny myself based on what strangers thought. So if it's not that, then what is it?"

This is a really good question! Now no one else can completely answer it for you, but I can give you some more 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.

Another teen suggests 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.

Look, 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!