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Coming out as LGBTQ can be exciting, overwhelming, and sometimes scary. It’s different for everyone, and you’re the only one who can decide when the time is right.

What is “coming out”?

“Coming out” of understanding your own sexual orientation or gender identity and then deciding to share it with some or all of the people in your life. Coming out is different for everyone and there are lots of ways to do it. Some LGBTQ people choose to come out only to themselves, and not to anyone else. Only you can know what’s best for your life right now. Learn more about coming out.

Should I come out?

Coming out is a decision that LGBTQ people have to face all the time, with every new person they meet. So it’s something you’ll probably do over and over again throughout your life. The way you approach and experience coming out might change, depending on where you are and who you’re with.

Coming out is a very personal decision. You — and only you — get to decide if, when, and how you do it. Coming out can be a really important step, and people should only come out if and when they’re ready and feel safe doing so. It’s never ok to pressure someone into coming out or to out a LGBTQ person without their permission.  

You might want to start by talking with other people who are LGBTQ.  Sometimes it’s also helpful to talk to adults you trust, like a counselor, social worker, teacher, or supportive family member, to help you decide when you want to come out, and who to come out to.

For all people — and young people especially — gender and sexuality can change and evolve over time. It might take you a while to fully understand your own sexual orientation and gender identity, and these things can shift as you get older. Sharing a big part of who you are as a person during the time that you’re trying to figure it all out can be complicated.

For a lot of people, coming out can be a great experience — especially if they have support from their friends, families, and communities. While it can make your relationships better and make you feel great, it can also feel scary depending on who you’re coming out to and what you think their reaction will be. And unfortunately in some places there’s a lot of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia — fear and hatred of people who are LGBTQ. If you think coming out might cause you harm — physical, emotional, or financial — you may decide to wait to come out until you have a plan to take care of yourself.

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