Talking About One’s Identity Openly – Am I Ready to “Come Out”?

Manual Redeye

The lives of LGBTQ+ people are as unique and diverse as the lives of heterosexual (those who are attracted to people of the opposite gender) and cisgender (those whose gender identity corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth). Nevertheless, many queers (members of the LGBTQ+ community) might have common experiences, whether hiding their identity or speaking openly.

Whether you’re sharing information about your sexual orientation or your gender identity, it can be a very difficult and scary step. Although you are already on the path to self-acceptance, you may be afraid that people will not understand or reject you. Talking about one’s identity in a homophobic society — the so-called “coming out” is a quite complicated thing, but this article will try to help you answer the necessary questions.

What Does “Coming Out” Mean?

To put it simply, coming out means telling the people in your life what you already know—whether it’s your sexual orientation, your gender identity, or both.

Sexual orientation refers to who we are sexually attracted to. For example, sexual orientations include asexual, bisexual, bi-curious, gay, lesbian, pansexual, heterosexual, and so on.

Gender identity refers to how you feel and perceive yourself and how you express it in your appearance, clothes, behavior, etc. In other words, gender identity refers to a person’s sense and perception of their own gender. Gender identity can be female, male and non-binary .

► A person’s gender identity may or may not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth.

On your journey of talking about your identity with others, you may go through one, several, or all of the stages of coming out:

  • Identity Confusion: When you’re not sure what your sexual orientation/gender identity is
  • Identity Comparison: Comparing yourself to other, heterosexual people and seeing the differences
  • Identity Tolerance: Slowly starting to admit to yourself that you might be a member of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Embracing Identity: Increasing Activism in the LGBTQ+ Community
  • Pride of Identity: Actively identifying with and actively participating in the LGBTQ+ community
  • Identity Synthesis: Your sexual orientation/gender identity becomes an integral part of your identity and merges with everything that makes you who you are.

Am I Ready to Come Out?

When you find the idea of ​​hiding your identity more difficult and painful than talking about it, this is the best indicator of your need and readiness for coming out.

You may be ready to talk about your sexuality and/or gender identity if:

  • You often think about telling people about your identity;
  • Want to meet other people with similar identities and become part of a community;
  • Hiding your identity makes you feel like you’re hiding the truth from the people you care about;
  • You want to express your feelings towards your partner in front of others, and you think that for this you need to share information about your identity with others;
  • You don’t want to be in a relationship where you have to hide your identity;
  • You are comfortable enough with your sexuality or gender identity that you feel it is emotionally safe to talk about it with others;
  • The idea of ​​talking openly about your identity is very exciting and makes you happy.

Why Do I “Have to” Come Out?

You’ve probably noticed that your heterosexual and cisgender friends have never had to “come out” with their identities. You may be wondering: why then do others have to “label” you as bisexual, lesbian, gay, transgender, etc.?


The fact is that, traditionally, most cultures and societies view the world from a “heteronormative” point of view — meaning that it is automatically assumed that a person is heterosexual and cisgender unless they say otherwise. Coming out is the dialogue in which you can distinguish yourself from traditional beliefs.

► Remember that coming out is neither an obligation nor someone else’s decision. Ultimately, only you know if you are ready to talk about your identity, or if you even want to.

What Should We Consider Before Talking Openly About Our Identity?

Since homophobic, biphobic or transphobic attitudes are common in Georgia, coming out can have a negative reaction from people and requires careful planning, choosing the right time, context and reliable people.

Before you talk openly about your identity with someone, first:

  • Be prepared for different reactions: Everyone may have different reactions to this type of information. Depending on your relationship with the person you are telling about your identity, and what their beliefs and preconceptions are about the LGBTQ+ community, their reaction can range from acceptance to confusion or even anger. Don’t be sure what the other person’s reaction will be and be emotionally prepared for both positive and negative reactions;
  • Know your boundaries in advance: Chances are, the person will ask you questions during the coming out, and a lot of them. Think in advance about possible questions and answers, also think about which questions you don’t want to answer (perhaps, they are too personal) and think of a polite way of refusing to answer;
  • Choose the time and context: For coming out to be relatively safe and conflict-free, it is important that it is not an impulsive decision or occurs spontaneously in a negative environment (say, during an argument). If you decide to talk to someone about your identity, think about exactly what you’re going to say in advance, and then you can wait for the right situation, and then come out (for example, during an honest conversation). Also think about how you want to do it (for example, face-to-face or online, or, in the case of face-to-face coming outs, whether you prefer sitting or standing) and in what location (at home, in a park, indoors or outdoors, etc.);
  • Know where to find support: You can’t predict exactly how someone will react, so be prepared for a scenario where you can get away from that person or place and manage to go somewhere you can get support, such as friends, family, a psychotherapist, other LGBTQ+ people, or a shelter. Additionally, it would be a good idea to talk to an LGBTQ+ friendly psychologist before coming out who can support you and help you through the process.

► If you want to talk to an LGBTQ+ friendly psychologist, you can contact the queer organizations operating in Georgia, which can provide free psychological counseling. For example:

  • Equality Movement provides free psychological services to LGBTQ+ people. For a free and anonymous consultation, you can go to the Equality Movement office. Address: 19 Ushangi Chkheidze Street. Before the visit, you can contact the organization by phone (0322 47 97 48) or at their Facebook page.
  • Queer association Temida offers free psychological services to trans/queer people. You can also use temporary accommodation in Temida. To receive services, you can contact the organization by phone (995 599 42 83 31), e-mail: [email protected], or Facebook page.
  • Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG) offers psychological and sexological counseling to women and queer people. You can contact the organization at its Facebook page, by phone (595190303) or by e-mail: [email protected]

Safeguards for Mental Health

Before you begin the process of coming out, it is important to make sure you are emotionally and mentally ready to do so. The first and most important step you should have taken is to be comfortable with your own identity. Additionally, there are some safety precautions you can take to protect both your emotional and mental health while speaking openly about your identity. between them:

  • Be honest with yourself about how homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic your friends, family, or other people in your life are, and don’t automatically assume that they will change their minds because of you;
  • Read about other people’s coming out experiences so you know in advance what reactions you might encounter from others, as well as how you might feel during and after coming out;

You can learn about people’s personal stories and experiences in our Portrait column.

  • Go through this process as slowly as you need to so as not to overwhelm you emotionally;
  • If you plan to talk about this topic with different people, it is better, instead of putting everything together, to divide these dialogues in time so that you do not get exhausted and have the opportunity to regain your energy in between;
  • If a face-to-face meeting seems dangerous, difficult or impossible, consider whether it would be better to do it online, for example by texting, calling or video calling;
  • Have resources ready for loved ones (for example articles, videos, etc.) that they can refer to to learn how to support you;
  • Know the facts and be ready to share them. For example, you could mention how coming out and family support is important to the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ people.

Coming Out: Yes or No?

In many countries, including Georgia, being openly queer is not accepted by part of society, which is why coming out is associated with fear and various risks for many LGBTQ+ people. Among them are:

  • Lack of physical security — A person may choose to hide their identity for fear of losing their physical security. While the world has become much more accepting of LGBTQ+ people in recent years, queers are still nearly 4 times more at risk of physical violence than cisgender and heterosexual people.

► Violent homophobia in Georgia, together with the already existing negative prejudices in society, is fueled by anti-LGBT propaganda from pro-Russian radical and violent groups, open calls for physical violence against queer people, as well as openly homophobic statements by Georgian politicians and government officials.

  • Negative reactions from family members — Since family is an important part of life for many people, homophobic beliefs and perceptions of family make many queer people who want to talk openly about their identity suffer from internal conflict and fear. Fear of lack of support from family can become a source of serious stress. This fear can be so strong that a person decides that it is easier to hide their identity than to talk about it and risk being ostracized.
  • Discrimination at work — Coming out can make it difficult for a person to be in the workplace, whether it’s discrimination, a potential hostile environment, “glass ceiling” in the career advancement path of minorities, or more.

► According to studies, LGBTQ+ people are more likely to live in poverty than heterosexuals; They are more likely to be discriminated against in the workplace, and gay men tend to be paid less than heterosexual men.

  • Limited access to medical services — Despite progress made in the recent years, LGBTQ+ people still face many barriers to accessing medical services, from homophobic comments by medical staff to difficulty or limitations in accessing certain services. Because of this, for example, almost a quarter of transgender people in the US have never visited a doctor because of the fear of potential discrimination.

Queer people who hide their identity may not have to deal with the problems mentioned above — whether it’s family rejection, lack of access to medical services, or more — simply because if no one knows you’re queer, you won’t be treated differently because of it.

All this does not mean that hiding one’s identity improves the quality of life of a queer person. Hiding your identity means hiding yourself from the people you care about, which is a very stressful experience and often prevents or makes it difficult to form close bonds with people.

However, it should be noted that speaking openly about one’s identity is not always the way to release this stress — its outcome largely depends on one’s environment and support systems.

If your environment is homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic, and coming out might end up violent, it may be best for your own safety not to come out until:

  • Until you make sure that you are prepared for any reaction and have an action plan for the worst case scenario;
  • Until you know where and who to turn to for help if needed;
  • Until you have mental and emotional readiness and independence;
  • Until you have sufficient economic independence and you are financially dependent on family members or partner, from whom you may receive a negative reaction;
  • Until you have a support system and people who will stand by you no matter what, such as friends or members of the LGBTQ+ community;
  • Until you know that coming out is exactly what you need in life right now, and regardless of any reactions from others, it will do you more good than the other way around.

► Coming out is an individual choice and no one is obliged to openly talk about their identity with others, especially if the environment is homophobic, biphobic or transphobic and presents a potential threat.

Sources: Choosing Therapy, Verywell Mind: Coming-out, Being in the Closet