Still 'In The Closet'? An Open Letter To The Person Struggling To Come Out

Are You Still 'In The Closet'? What You Need To Hear If You're Still Struggling To Come Out In The LGBTQ+ Community

I’m nervous. That is the only thought that surfaced as I gazed at the blaze of colors and dancers who breezed passed me. I swallowed the lump in my throat, unable to do much else. That was, until she grabbed my hand and gave it a tight squeeze.

I looked to her, and she flashed me a smile that has always been there, through everything bad that’s happened, every sleepless night or sick day. I squeezed her hand back, and together we went to enjoy our first pride parade and festival together.

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So why did I still feel sad? Why was I still so torn up inside? Maybe it was because this was a secret. She was a secret, and part of my existence still remains a secret. Despite how far we’ve come, many people are still incredibly homophobic. Stereotypes of LGBTQ+ people are prevalent in the media.

Growing up, non-heteronormative or people who are not in common heterosexual relationships were often vilified for their sexuality. I grew up in a faith-based household, and had been instructed several times to never have relationships with other women. This was often said with disgust, as if the very thought was unimaginable.

Many years later, with gay marriage becoming legalized and officially recognized in the US, more people in the LGBTQ community were comfortable expressing their sexualities for the first time. Many married long-term lovers, and there was an overall happiness among the community for being recognized legitimately for the first time.

However, I still kept that part of myself hidden away from most people. I had a few friends who knew and who were very supportive. There were many, though, who didn’t believe me. To them, a person could not be bisexual. They had to either be straight or gay.

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Over the years, I have grown braver. I will openly defend queer people from homophobic individuals — including members of my family. I have not hesitated in expressing to my family and friends that I support gay rights. I’ve even taken the time, more than once, to explain the spectrum of sexuality. Still, I haven’t been brave enough to open the closet door to them to see who I really am.

I am too afraid to face their scorn. To be ostracized. To be hated by them. To be alone.

So, I understand. In a homophobic society, it is so difficult to be brave enough to come out to friends and family, especially if they aren’t supportive. There is a lot of pressure to remain “normal” and a lot of pressure to keep those who you love around you.

You are NOT alone.

There are so many of us who are still trying to find the words to express what we need and the courage to do it. So, as you navigate through this thing we call life, just remember this:

You don’t have to come out if you aren’t ready.

There will be people along the way who will tell you what you need to do, but remember that we are still being harmed. There are still acts of violence against queer people for their sexuality everyday. If you do not feel safe, then you do not have to disclose your sexuality to anyone. Your well being, physical, mental, spiritual or otherwise, is much more important than coming out.

Your anxieties, fears, and experiences are valid. You are valid! Do not allow anyone to invalidate you just because their personal experiences are different than yours. We are all walking different paths that happen to converge, but that does not make them the same path.

Move at your own pace.

You have to do what’s best for you. This means living the life that you live at your own leisure. Your comfort matters. I don’t know if I’ll ever move to a place where everyone in my life is aware of my sexuality, and that’s OK. It will be OK if the people around you don’t know either.

Love, Someone Who's Where You Are

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Paris Sullivan is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.