Ask Phoenix

Phoenix B. Rishon

Q: Dear Phoenix, I am really confused about my sexuality. I think I may be gay, but I am terrified of coming out. How should I come out?

Dear closet dweller,

 Coming out is scary for everyone that goes through it. Many scenarios may be racing through your head of what could happen and what could go wrong. Believe me, I know the fear and anxiety it provokes, but coming out is incredibly freeing. You may feel as though you have been living a lie the entire time you were in the closet.

While coming out is necessary and beneficial, it needs to be at the correct time for the individual. Being forced to come out can be detrimental. You cannot rush through it. Make sure that you have the stability and resources to do so.

Whomever you are closest to should be told first. I say this because your closest friend probably already knows and is completely comfortable with it. You should build up a support system; tell a few trusted friends or family members before telling the people you are truly worried about. If you are worried about even telling your best friends because they have previously hinted that they are a bit homophobic, talk to a counselor.

If you are able, you need to talk to a professional that can be there and help you through it. He/She can offer a great support system and work out some of the irrational fears you may have.

Many of the fears that I had came from the horror stories of abandonment and ridicule you hear from other people coming out. I cannot guarantee that it will go smoothly for everyone, because it will not. You may need to give those people that immediately disapprove some time to get over the initial shock. It may be just as much of a change for them as it is for you.

Many people in college are not out to their families back home. College can be a great place to figure out who you are and who you want to be. I warn these people, though, that the longer they hold it off, the harder it becomes. You begin to live two separate lives. In college, you feel free to be whomever you want, but then back at home you are shoved back in the closet with Christmas presents from ten years ago. I understand if you are not ready or the opportunity has not presented itself, but living two lives is stressful and can be harmful to the individual.

While your sexuality does not define you, it can still have a major impact on your life. Be confident in who you are and do not let others tear you down because they narrow-mindedly outcast you. Take Bert and Ernie for example, even though rumors spread everywhere that they were gay, they stayed the strong, funny, mere puppets that they are.

People blow homosexuality out of proportion. There is much more to an individual than their sexual orientation, and sometimes you have to remind people that you are the same person they knew.

In conclusion, coming out can be difficult, but, in the long run, it can be incredibly freeing. Stay true to yourself and do not let others tear you down. When in difficult times, seek professional help as necessary. Good luck, and know you are always loved.

Hope this helps.

Toodles for now,

Phoenix Rishon

[email protected]

‘Ask Phoenix’ does not substitute for a professional psychologist or psychiatrist. If you need psychological support: Contact the UMKC Counseling Center at 816-235-1635. If you are in crisis or thinking about suicide you deserve immediate support. Contact the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are in immediate danger or in crisis, please call 911.