Most of us are divided on the issue of being “special.” On the one hand, we want to be unique, and on the other hand we want to fit in with the rest of the crowd. The need to fit in dates back to our early tribal ancestors and is not to be taken lightly; if you were an outcast in those times you would not have survived. When we take the risk to come out, we are rubbing up against our primordial need to be loved and accepted by our clan. We are risking exclusion. Logically we know as adults that we have the means to survive without our families if needed, but it is nevertheless a scary step to take. If we are still a youth, we may risk being kicked out of our homes, or bullied. Even as adults we may be dependent on a husband or other caretaker that we now risk losing, particularly if we have been staying at home and watching the children for years. We may feel we won’t be able to provide for ourselves or our children sufficiently.
What can you do to develop multiple streams of support and take steps to grow your network of allies?
- Reach out to gay people who you know and respect. Ask if you can speak confidentially with them about your situation and ask what resources they found helpful when coming out.
- You will likely be able to find a gay-friendly therapist in your area. Social workers these days are trained specifically on issues of diversity and inclusion, which includes the LGBTQ community.
- Find a support group. In New York, Identity House offers coming out groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. There is nothing as healing as being with other people who are going through the same thing as you. You can laugh, cry and share your mutual struggles. I have also found internalized homophobia dissolves in the presence of a group of women whom you love and respect that are also coming out.
- As a coach, I am here to talk if you need additional support. I host an inexpensive and completely confidential Coming Out Group that meets in Brooklyn, New York, and am putting together a group via phone so women from anywhere in the United States can call in. Contact me at Jan@lifeaftertherapy.com if interested.
We do have to make a leap of faith to come out, but rather than rely on total trust that we “leap and the net will appear,” we can take steps to build a web of information, skills and support to make our landing pad soft. Realize that just taking a few steps means you’re already on your journey–be proud of yourself for your bravery.
What is the antidote to the fear of being different? Sharing your story with others who can relate. Relishing in the very differences that make you unique. There is no one like you. Share below what makes you unique and tell us your story!
In closing, I had a mixture of difficult times and great support when I came out. I was bullied in high school for it and the thing that kept me strong was knowing that I was helping to change the world. By bravely stepping forward and claiming who I am, I was showing others that they could do the same. Teegan and Sara have released a new song on bullying, which I thought I would share. How will your coming out make things right? How will it change the world?
Enjoy building your net!