Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Superchilled Guide to Coming Out

Oh, and by the way mum, I’m gay, can you pass me the milk?

It’s something you can only do once, so like an entrance at the Academy Awards you want to do it right.

Here’s the Superchilled Guide to Coming out.

Its not just YOU who has to prepare – you have to prepare those you’re coming out to as well – and this isn’t just a matter of ‘sit down, I have something to tell you’ . A proper coming out involves months of planning, re-programming (if required) and sensitive timing for those who are going to be given news that they may or may not be expecting (the coming outees).

Suggested re-programming techniques:
For those new to the whole idea that homosexuality exists – it might be wise to introduce them to movies that have gay side themes or characters (that aren’t advertised in the trailers or on the dvd covers). Shortbus while fantastic, is probably best saved for years after you’ve come out and your family is mostly deceased, or have come out themselves. But for other movies you can look on in surprise at the gay kiss, or the introduction of the boyfriend, and say things such as ‘well I’ll be…’. Ideally your parents or other coming outees will have someone else they know who is gay and hopefully they like or get on with – encourage their interaction with them, and note local well known people who are respected and gay (that they might not know to be gay) on passing in conversation from time to time. Responses such as ‘bloody poofters’, and such should be greeted with calm reassurance, ‘no mum, they’re not ALL that bad you know, I know some people who are gay’ and revisiting the dvd collection as above…
Remember you’ve had years to come to terms with it – you need to help them along – unless of course you generally dress like you’ve come from a Mardi Gras Parade Float and they’re more ready than you.

Your Own Preparation
You don’t need to look your best, so grooming is not an essential here – in fact it might give you away too early. Find something to wear that clashes until you’re really ready. Ideally you will be absolutely certain that you’re gay – and if you have any doubt then you probably are. Any perception from your coming outees that you’re ‘not sure’ will be greeted with enrolment in de-gaying camps, pseudo-psychological intervention and a parade of women in the hope that you just need to find ‘the right one’. So at least look sure (perfect grooming may help here). Of course having a boyfriend to introduce may well be a little more of a statement of certainty, but for the moment of truth – keep them away – you want them to remain in one piece and not have ‘you gayed my son, you bloody poofter’ yelled at them. If you live with the coming outees it might be worth making sure you have somewhere to stay in the event of the ‘worst case scenario’ – it rarely happens – but at least know your options.

The Big Day
You’ve done the ground work and now you’re ready – what’s the best time? It will depend – but you want to have control over the environment, so make sure you have time, no interruptions and a captive audience. If you’re worried about violent outbursts – choose a quiet café or restaurant in a public setting. One on One is recommended – because it’s more personal and gives non talkers a chance to talk, and you want them to talk – the worst coming out is when you are greeted with silence. Make sure you have information available – sometimes something to read about sexuality, PFLAG contact numbers, and in a perfect setting have the coming outee’s gay contacts informed and ready for debriefing sessions afterwards. Information on gay discrimination, HIV etc is probably best left for another time, one trauma at a time please. Make sure you know your exits. Just in case.

As you get used to coming out – it can be wise to avoid become to laid back about it. I came out to a friend casually while he was taking my new car for a spin (he did ask about the guy who happened to be my boyfriend – and I figured it was a perfect introduction to the topic) but only do this if your insurance is up to date. En masse can be a lot easier – less time needed etc, but it might make for a very seriously altered dinner party, and you run the risk of the silent escaper, someone who REALLY needs talking to, who might not return your calls later.

You Made It!!
All in all you’ll find that you wished you had come out sooner. But never regret the delay – just realise in advance it can be a fantastic opportunity. You can become very much closer to the people around you who have been excluded from your real emotional perspectives for a while, and after you get the first few people out of the way, timing the coming out can be a real hoot. A camera for reactions might make for a fun coming out blog after all!. Once you’re all done you, yourself might become a role model others can drop into their own coming out experience…

Ah the humanity of it all!!


Monty said...

Why didn't you write this last year when I came out??? Was highly instructive and most amusing! Thanks!

Craig said...

You need to write a book, young man.

Campbell said...

Required reading for every young (and not so young!) gay person contemplating the big outing.