Why It's Okay Not to Come Out

National Coming Out Day was this week. Many people view it as a great opportunity to inspire others to share their truth, but not everyone thinks it's so great to pressure others to come out of the closet. Coming out isn't for everyone, all of the time, and we want you to know that that's okay!

This week, people young and old bravely opened up to friends, family, and even strangers about who they are and who they love. Why has this week been particularly frequent for LGBTQ+ people to share their identities with their loved ones? Oct. 11 was National Coming Out Day!

This very queer holiday comes every year to inspire more reluctant people to overcome their anxieties and come out. Some people find an unexpectedly happy response, others face tragic rejection, and for most of us, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. But what about those of us who don’t want to come out at all, and find this occasion a greater pressure than a liberation?

If you haven’t come out this October 11th or any other before it, you might be feeling like this event is here solely to make you feel weak or cowardly. It’s important to know that you are brave and strong just for being you, and you should be proud of yourself for getting here.

Regardless of how many people you’ve come out to this week or any other, you are valuable and your coming out experience is your own path. No one else can control when you come out besides yourself. This day is intended to offer you a chance to gather that courage to come out if you want to- not to force you into anything you don’t want to do.

We all face a great deal of stress in our coming out process. I came out to the New York Times before I told my parents! Please know that whoever you do tell- in whatever order- is your choice and you have a right to command it entirely. No one can tell you that you have to tell your family or anyone else that you aren’t comfortable sharing that part of your life with yet.

Anyone that abuses your privacy is not respecting you as a person, particularly manipulating your vulnerabilities out of malice or for leverage. Sometimes, it can be shared by accident; that situation deserves a careful conversation about how to preserve your boundaries in the future if you wish to retain that relationship.

When I was 14, a boy who despised me for being his middle school academic competitor tricked me into coming out by falsely coming out himself to me to make me feel comfortable. He then used that information to blackmail me at any time, threatening to tell my peers and even my parents my greatest secret if I applied for a position he wanted, or became friends with a girl he fancied. It left me incredibly distressed with the constant fear of outing, but I couldn’t ask anyone to help me due to its private nature.

Looking back, I understand even more how important this right to your own coming out story really is. You deserve that time and space to share your identity however you wish to. Stay strong, stay powerful, stay beautiful, and when you’re ready, show them how you’ll stay queer, too.