by NICK BUCHANAN
So, you’re gay, huh? Welcome to the club. Your rainbow membership card and laminated copy of the gay agenda should arrive in your mailbox sometime soon.
As you may know, coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is not a one-time deal. Coming out for the first time releases a monstrous load of stress, but the cycle restarts when it’s time to tell a second person, a third person, and so on.
Since I first came out in September of last year, I’ve been on my very own coming out tour, hitting up nearly every one of my friends in the countryside. Each stop on the tour has been different, and through these experiences, I’ve learned that coming out is comparable to ripping off an adhesive bandage: it momentarily hurts, but it’s ultimately relieving.
I’ve also learned that there’s no right or wrong way to come out. Do it anyway you’re comfortable with. It can be as big or as small of a deal as you’d like to make it; it’s your time to shine.
Are you still closeted and ready to make your grand reveal, but don’t know how to do it? You're not alone. There are many options out there for you; check a few of them out below.
Just say it. After I contemplated for months on how to do this, I accidentally did this at the most awkward time possible and ruined a night with my friends. It was neither ideal, nor planned, but it made for quite the tale to tell nowadays.
Long story made short: I met a girl in high school with whom I had built a strong friendship, and I could tell that she wanted to advance to something more last year. So on a night that started with a backyard campfire and ended with some television at this friend’s house, it spilled out in the most ridiculous way possible: during an episode of MTV’s Guy Code, a show on which straight guys talk about typical straight guy things. She asked why I didn’t act like any of the guys on the show, and out it spilled. Awkward silence and tears ended the night early.
It was the first time I had even admitted my sexuality out loud to myself let alone anybody else, and the memory will forever be tied to a cheap MTV show. Wonderful.
The “break a poor girl’s heart” approach doesn’t always have to end like Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” video, though. The young lady in question is still one of my closest friends, and I still don’t think she knows just how grateful I am for her; she took it all so well. It had to be one of the most awkward positions for her, stuck between natural heartbreak and respectful acceptance.
Tell your family or friends over dinner. This equation is pretty great all around because both food and gayness are involved. It doesn’t have to be a huge public spectacle; when I did this with one of my friends from high school, I just slid it into conversation at an appropriate time. It could attract attention if coming out garners a fiery negative reaction from friends and family, so use this one carefully.
Send a text. This is a rather impersonal way to get things done. Text strips away all of the emotion from a conversation. However, it saves the awkward silence and tears, and it’s a private way to come out if you send the text to a trustworthy person.
I came out to my best friend of over a decade via text while my parents sat none the wiser fifteen feet away from me. Considering that she’s been one of the closest people in my life since grade school, I always expected that she would be the first to know. She ended up being the third person to know, and she became the most important person in my support system; she’s been a guidance counselor of sorts. If anyone is the most valuable player in all of this, she is.
Make a telephone call. Not good with face-to-face communication? A call will get the job done and still convey emotion.
Write a letter. Like a text, a letter is a bit impersonal. It’s also mind grueling because the response isn’t immediate. I came out in a letter to my friend who moved to Texas. Our schedules rarely line up for a phone call, and I clearly do not have the time or means to make a quick trip to Texas to declare gayness, so a letter was the best option. Minus the wait for a letter in return, it was a smooth experience.
Start a conversation during a long car ride. This one is great – your family or friends are trapped in a vehicle, so there’s no way for them to exit the conversation.
I’ve tried this approach twice. The first time was with my whole family in the car, but I was never able to explicitly come out. We were close to having a serious conversation about homosexuality until my father halted the conversation with the threat, “You better not bring home a guy, or else.”
On the other hand, my second try was a success. I came out to my mother (the only person in my family who knew prior to this article’s release) when she and I were in the car. I must recommend that the person coming out is not in the driver’s seat; I was behind the wheel in this situation, and my nerves ensured that I wasn’t even remotely paying attention to the road.
Buy or make a tee-shirt. This one will work. So will this one. This one, too.
Make a YouTube video. Coming videos have become the new initiation for us LGBT+ community members nowadays, especially for those who make a living as YouTube personalities; Hannah Hart, Troye Sivan, Connor Franta, Joey Graceffa, Ingrid Nilsen, and Shane Dawson have all come out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the past few years via the video streaming platform. Others have planted secret cameras as they came out to a loved one and posted the results online.
Considering my lack of celebrity status and awkwardness on film, I never tried this one. If you consider yourself a celebrity in your own right and are less of a mess than I am, be my guest and try this one out.
Bake a rainbow cake. Although it’s too gaudy and complicated for my tastes, coming out via cake is more common than I thought. If you know your way around the kitchen and want to impress your friends, try this recipe out.
Talk about Lady Gaga a lot and wait for someone to ask. This one works really well. Just trust me on this one.
Talk about Cher a lot and wait for someone to ask. This one works even better. Cher is to the gays what Queen Elizabeth II is to England. In fact, another member of the LGBT+ community on campus asked about my sexuality only after our conversations about Cher. Her power is undeniable.
Make a social media post. Social media is great because it reaches many people at once. A simple status or tweet should do the trick; right around the time we gays were told we can get married, I posted a picture on Instagram with the pride flag superimposed over the background. That seemed to do the trick with the very few followers I have.
Write about your sexuality and publish it. In conjunction with that last technique, this is what I’m doing right now.
Hey, family and friends. It’s Nick. I saved any emotional rambling for the Facebook post I used to share this article to you all, so I’ll spare readers here. But if I haven’t made this blatantly obvious by now, I want you all to know that I’m gay.
Come out only when you are ready; it’s your decision to make, not anybody else’s. If you feel insecure, unsafe, or suicidal due to your sexuality or gender identity, the Trevor Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 866-488-7386. This number will connect you to judgment-free, confidential counselors certified in LGBT+ crises. In addition to the Lifeline, the Trevor Project also offers online resources, such as live chats with counselors and a social media board.