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If there is one thing your life in the closet teaches you, for sure, is that the only things that belong in there are clothes. You, are a wonderful human who has finally decided to come out and late as it may seem, you deserve to walk the rainbow as fabulously as any youth. Factors like your background, location, religion and culture will definitely have an effect on what follows. But why is it that you think you must have chosen to coming out just now?
With the legalization of same-sex marriages and changes in adoption policies, it has become easier to fight the detrimental combo of ingrained homophobia and violence. The internet provides many safe spaces for lgbtq+ individuals to discuss ideas and work towards tackling issues like coming out, mental health, safe sex practices and creation of more such safe spaces offline. Check the existing laws of your country and research a bit into LGBTQ+ history so you have valid points to talk about, incase you need to educate your possible allies.
Coming out later means you have lived the best part of your life trying to fit in the heteronormative society or tried to break free from it. Maybe your kids are all grown now, or your spouse in no longer with you, or maybe your parents can now easily come to terms with the fact that you are an individual who can stand for themselves. Eitherway, your days of living in regret seem to have ended.
James Clemons, 58, came out as gay to his children following the loss of his wife of 30 years, as he knew he had a beautiful family while they could. He no longer needed to pretend and blend in when he could finally be true to himself and explore life as he wanted to.
Being represented in TV shows and movies has a huge impact on the lgbtq+ individuals. It gives you a sense of validity regarding your orientation and space in the society. With a lot of Hollywood celebrities coming out, the conversations just get easier to kickstart. From Ellen coming out more than 20 years ago, to the amazing plethora of shows like Sense8, The Handmaid’s Tale, Orange is the New Black or RuPaul’s Drag Race- every amount of visibility gives you new hope of being understood. If recent movies like Love, Simon can give courage to 13 year olds to turn to their parents and come out while the entire theatre breaks into an applause and tears, imagine the impact it will have on an individual who has probably spent a lifetime planning the moment!
Struggles have always been an inevitable part of your life. But all of us deserve a chance to go out with a bang if we want to. You wanted to try those heels? Do that. You wanted to tell your spouse you are an asexual who hated sex? Go on. Just like Liza Horton, now 61, who got married to the woman of her dreams at the age of 50, following a divorce with a man who she was undoubtedly in love with.
You have just decided to let go and spread your wings. But what next?
Our loved ones or friends might have a hard time accepting this revelation. Those who knew about it may become an ally or a close friend might drift apart because they cannot fully grasp the concept that we simply cannot choose what we are. Remember to be totally unapologetic.
We do need labels to define ourselves and in order to be understood. However, take your time and understand what your orientation means to you. Weigh out your preferences, and if you feel them changing, accept the fact that you are a human with endless possibilities at love and courting. At the age of 52, Naomi Jose recalls, she sat down with a pen and paper to draw a neat little chart to understand why she was a Pansexual and not just Bisexual. The fact, she says, helped her understand her turmoil as a teen when she would feel attracted to people who didn’t happen to be typically masculine men every time.
Reach out to the various groups at your disposal. Join a queer choir or activity group, queer mental health support groups, discuss ideas, meet allies, volunteer at queer events if possible. The more you connect, a better sense of belonging will arise. Try out dating apps like Grindr, OK Cupid or Her.
If you are just starting to explore your sexuality with the same sex, understand the ways in which it will be different. Research about safe sex practices even if you are a woman. Drop your assumptions but also know that established lgbt individuals might not always be welcoming. Take your time to build trust while you work on yourself.
Lilith Smith, 57, was apprehensive about drag and dating when she came out 5 years ago. Turns out she loves singing, and women, but sometimes also men if they know how to shake a leg. Try several things before dismissing them straight away (pun intended). The lgbtq+ community, even when it is so easily a part of the regular society, has a unique world of music and poetry and fashion that will give you a new insight of the struggles as well as the flamboyance of it. See what you like and maybe you will surprise yourself!
Now that you have decided to open your arms and embrace yourself, make room for a bit more love. Dating and courtship here is pretty much similar no matter what your sexuality or orientation. So while the fear of being hurt remains, it is always worth giving love a chance.
So what we are saying is, once you have decided to come out, there is no going back. Arm yourself with the proper knowledge and look for appropriate support systems. To quote Miranda, “when you finally embrace the gift of your sexual orientation, it IS the end; the end of shame, fear and oppression. You leave the darkness of the closet and begin a life of honesty, authenticity and freedom.