Cuming Out - the voluntary disclosure of information on sexual orientation or gender identity. On the one hand, a person communicates intimate information about himself, which, in theory, no one should care about, on the other, the communication process itself in the context of homophobic legislation can be perceived as a political act, although it is rarely such. Is it worth it to come out, and how to do it right, explain Inna Khamitova, director of the Family Therapy Center and Natalya Safonova, psychologist at the Resource LGBTKIA Moscow center.
— Why is there such a fear of coming out?
— Public opinion presents heterosexuality as a social norm, thereby excluding people whose sexual orientation or gender identity differs from the generally accepted one. Therefore, many LGBT people say that they are afraid of upsetting their loved ones with their recognition or simply want to protect themselves from the emotions of people for whom homo / bisexuality is not the norm.
— Why make a cuming out at all? After all, sexual life and preferences are everyone's personal business.
— In order to feel comfortable, it is important to be in harmonious contact with yourself and other people. If a person hides what is important to him, this makes him constantly lie and get out. Whether or not to come out is a choice between calm and “life on a volcano”. Self-disclosure can bring relief, but you should consider the possible consequences and take care of your safety in advance, because often a cuming-out becomes a cause of psychological and physical violence.
Sometimes LGBT organizations claim that cuming-out is a prerequisite for the normal life of the community as a whole, and this largely affects the person’s choice. In most cases, in response to the question: “Why do you want to make a cuming out?” — psychologists hear: "In order to get closer to their relatives, friends, to get support." Others say that they simply want to get rid of the constant attempts of their parents to arrange their personal life. But, of course, whether or not to come out is a personal choice for everyone.
— Where to start if I made the final decision to make a cuming out?
— You must be aware that the reaction of those to whom you want to open up may not be the one you are counting on. Answer your question: “What resources do I have to survive a possible crisis?” If you live with your parents and realize that they may not understand you, think about where you can go to spend the night. If the person you are about to open up to is prone to aggression, think about whether you can protect yourself. the main thing — not to be left face to face with possible pressure. If you understand that now there are not enough resources to deal with the crisis, you may need to wait.
— I have enough strength to survive a possible negative. What to do next?
— Next step — building a network of people who will definitely support you. To get started, trust someone you have no doubt in order not to be alone. These are not always parents, sometimes it is someone from the community, perhaps a psychologist, a person on the LGBT forum or your best friend or girlfriend. It is important to create a "airbag".
— What is the likelihood that the reaction of people to whom I plan to talk about my homosexuality will be negative?
— Too many factors influence this. We divide this question into several blocks:
— What to expect from parents?
— Psychologist Yekaterina Petrova, in her study “Motives, Obstacles, and Consequences of a Cuming Out in the Relationship of Adult Homosexual / Bisexual Men with Their Parents,” analyzing the behavior of 80 parents faced with the heterosexuality of their children, came to the conclusion that the following reasons influence their reaction:
— personality: openness, willingness to perceive the child as a person. Remember how they behaved in situations when you made an independent choice,
— socio-demographic characteristics of the family: social and professional status of parents, religiosity, origin.
Some take the information more or less calmly, while others lead teenage children or already quite mature and established people to a psychologist or psychiatrist and insist that homosexuality — this is a mental disorder.
Parental shock — normal reaction. Therefore, if you hope to receive parental support immediately after recognition, difficulties may arise. In this situation, parents themselves need support, they need time to get used to new, rather difficult information for them, because their life, previously built according to the heteronormative scenario, has turned upside down. In this situation, it is important not to put pressure on the parents, but to give them time. After this, you can, for example, invite them to go to the “Parents' Meeting” - to a support group for parents who could exchange experiences and support each other.
— How to tell friends and colleagues?
— Sometimes this is a psychologically safer conversation than talking with parents. Try also to predict the reaction of friends by analyzing their ability to perceive your right to choose or their attitude to the LGBT community as a whole. At work, you can also inform some limited circle. If the company, in principle, positions itself as loyal, there are fewer risks to face a negative reaction.
In any case, the reaction of all is impossible to predict. It is likely that there will be someone who will devalue your recognition with statements like: "With age, pass, indulge and calm down" — or writes everything down to "fashion and the desire to stand out." This depreciation is usually explained by internal denial.
— How will life change after a cuming out?
— After a cuming out, some people have a feeling of inner strength and capabilities, release from the stigma of “wrongness”, they begin to feel more comfortable and accept their identity. However, in the event of a negative reaction to a cuming out, the consequences are deplorable and even dangerous. If after coming out you encounter pressure and you need support, contact the Resource LGBTKIA Moscow Center for Social Psychological and Cultural Projects. Psychologists of the center conduct face-to-face support groups and free consultations. In St. Petersburg, you can turn to the Vykhod initiative group for help. The Russian LGBT Network is engaged in online consulting in the regions.
Cuming out: what is it?
In simple words, a cuming-out is an exclusively voluntary disclosure to someone of their true sexual orientation or belonging to a gender different from what was supposed before, from the English “coming out” - “disclosure”, “exit”.
How exactly a cuming out will depend on a lot of factors, including which country and city a person lives in, how the society is configured in this place, what people surround it.
In other words, there is no “right” or “wrong” cuming out. It happens that a person who hides his orientation from others, gradually increases the number of loved ones who know the truth. For example, first it tells a brother or sister, then to parents, later to friends, as more and more people learn about it.
However, it happens differently when a person declares his identity to everyone and immediately - for example, writes a post on social networks or declares this in an interview. Sometimes for this they gather acquaintances and friends in one place, for example, at a holiday.
The British organization Stonewall recalls on its website that cuming out does not have to apply immediately to all areas of a person’s life. It is important not to put pressure on this issue either on others or on ourselves.
And why do cuming out? This is everyone’s personal affair!
“Why stick out your orientation at all? It’s not normal. ”“ Why set a bad example for others? ” - such phrases, as you can easily guess, do not contribute to cuming out. Meanwhile, telling yourself at least to the closest people is sometimes important and necessary. Why?
The fact is that for a person, as a social being, it is quite natural to want to be open and to want a trusting relationship with his parents. Psychologist Ekaterina Petrova, who has been working with LGBT organizations for many years, including the Russian LGBT network, is sure that when people have to hide such an important and significant part of their life, this causes serious emotional suffering.
Imagine that you need to constantly hide, hide something, lie, live a double life. Because of this, you constantly experience strong stress, pressure, which, in particular, affects health - both psychological and physical.
“There is a study according to which people who have come out to their loved ones are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, and also generally feel more comfortable psychologically, compared with those who did not.” - Petrova said in an interview with the YouTube channel Russian LGBT Network.
Hodor from Game of Thrones - Christian Nairn
In an interview with the Winter Is Coming Games of Thrones fan site in 2014, actor Christian Nairn, known for his role as Hodor, admitted that he was gay.
“When someone talks about the gay community, he talks about my community. I have never hidden my orientation from anyone, on the contrary, I have long been waiting for when they ask me about this in an interview. I couldn’t take it and say for no reason that I am gay. "I even tried to bring journalists to this question a couple of times, but there was no sense from this!” - says Nairn.
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Tim Cook first spoke openly about his homosexuality in 2014; he wrote a column about it for Bloomberg Businessweek.
“I'm proud to be gay, and I believe that my homosexuality is one of God's greatest gifts,” He wrote.
According to him, the orientation gave him the strength to be himself, to follow his own path and to struggle with difficulties and bigotry.
“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I understand how much benefit I brought to people who had to make sacrifices,” Cook wrote. - So if knowing that the CEO of Apple is gay will help someone accept themselves as they are, or calm down those who are lonely, or inspire people to insist on equal rights, it’s worth sacrificing your personal interest life. "
Star of the series “How I Met Your Mother” - Neil Patrick Harris
Harris came out in 2006, and the reason, in his own words, was a happy relationship with David Bartka, which the actor was tired of hiding.
“I am happy to dispel any rumors, stating that I am one hundred percent gay, and I am also happy to work with fantastic people in the business that I love”, Said Harris then.
The recognition did not affect his work (he continued to play one of the leading roles in the series), nor on the ratings of the show. The couple got married in 2014, and soon Neil and David had children.
Model and actress Cara Delevingne
The muse of Karl Lagerfeld announced her bisexuality in 2014 immediately to the whole world, joining the project about people who committed a cuming out, “Obvious Truth”.
The girl published a post on her Instagram, where she wrote: “It does not matter who you are or what you believe. The main thing is that we are one! I’m already late for International Cuming Out Day, but better late than never. ”
The beloved Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings - Sir Ian McKellen
Ian declared his homosexual orientation back in 1988, during an interview with BBC radio station. Since then, he has been actively fighting for the rights of the LGBT community around the world.
“Many expected me to become the leader of the gay movement. But I’m much more impressed with the role of an ordinary soldier, " He once said.
Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory - Jim Parsons
The winner of the Golden Globe and Emmy awards was revealed to the public in 2012. Then he talked about his ten-year relationship with graphic designer Todd Spivak.
In 2014, the couple tied the knot after 14 years of relationship.
“I met this guy 14 years ago, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.” - he wrote on his Instagram.
Actress Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart, who left after the Twilight in the author’s cinema, made a cuming out in 2016. Muse Woody Allen spoke about her bisexuality in an interview with several publications at once.
“In my opinion, it’s wonderful that my fans see that I do not hide my orientation. I am always real, " Said Stuart.
Musician, ex-lead singer and founder of Savage Garden Darren Hayes
In June 2006, the Australian singer-songwriter Darren Hayes unexpectedly entered into a civil partnership in London with his friend Richard Cullen, whom, as it turned out, had met before.
A month after the ceremony, Hayes posted a video message on his official website, where he openly spoke about his preferences and about the marriage.
Director and actress Jodie Foster
Winner of two Oscars, Jodie Foster made a cuming out when she was already 44 years old. She delivered a soulful speech at the Golden Globe Award Ceremony in 2007. By the way, at that time the actress already had two sons.
“One little fragile girl revealed herself to her most faithful friends, family and colleagues, and then, gradually and proudly, to everyone she knew”, - she said.
In 2014, the actress married a photographer and actress Alexandra Hedison.
1. Assess risks to life and health
Psychologists advise taking into account the level of homophobia and transphobia in the society where you are, as well as the possible reaction of relatives. Alas, it is often unsafe to talk about one’s orientation and gender identity - even those close to you can use psychological or even physical violence.
Evaluate the situation and do not be afraid to abandon this idea.
“Remember that you are not obliged to do a cuming out to anyone - if you feel unsafe physically or psychologically, it is probably worth leaving the closet. For example, in Russia, many open to relatives after they start living separately and gain financial independence. Although at the same time there are host parents who are immediately ready to support their homosexual, bisexual and transgender children, ” - Sasha Kazantseva, co-founder of the LGBT-zina "Open" says.
2. Consider retreat routes, seek help
The head of the psychological service of the LGBT initiative group “Vyhod” and the Russian LGBT network, candidate of psychological sciences Maria Sabunaeva advises first to prepare a springboard for the retreat.
“Talk to your friends in advance to understand that you can stay with someone. Maybe you can collect some basic things in advance. This is very similar to instructing victims of domestic violence - unfortunately, outings often cause violent actions in response, and therefore we are forced to instruct people as if they were subjected to violence, ” - said Sabunaeva.
Before a coming-out, it is advisable to find out if there are special organizations in your city, whether it is possible to make an appointment with a psychologist, is it possible to go to a support group meeting or call the hotline to consult a specialist. There is such a line in the Russian LGBT network, it works every day from three to nine hours Moscow time.
You can also get free psychological counseling at the Moscow Resource and Moscow Community Center, the St. Petersburg Exit and Action, the Yekaterinburg Resource Center, Perm's Rainbow World, LGBT network branches in different cities. If you live in another city - in these organizations you can find out the contacts of local LGBT-friendly experts or just talk with a psychologist on Skype.
3. Think in advance about what you say.
First, decide on the form of a cuming out: will it be a one-on-one conversation, a hand-written letter, a post on social networks?
If you are talking about a conversation, think about what time it is better to start it so that nothing distracts you. Try to imagine at least roughly what you will say, where you will start.
Consider the answers to possible questions that you will begin to ask. As a rule, they are always similar: “How long have you had this?”, “Have you tried with a girl?”, “How do you understand?” These are standard questions, so you can imagine in advance that you will answer this.
4. Know that you have nothing to be ashamed of.
Cuming out is a completely normal action in which there is nothing “wrong”. If society did not have so many xenophobic ideas and a hostile atmosphere, this would not even require a separate special word.
“No need to make excuses. It’s necessary to explain, to educate, but not to stand in the position of a person who has done something terrible, ” - says the editor-in-chief of the guys PLUS Vitaly Bespalov.
“We have the right to call ourselves what we want, to indicate our identity, to inform other people about it and expect a calm reaction from them - and if they react unhealthily, then we have every right to defend ourselves in any way,” - considers Maria Sabunaeva.
Основатель Playboy Хью Хефнер считал, в свою очередь, что свобода в стране невозможна без свободы выражения своей сексуальности. Он всегда боролся с архаичными взглядами, а также с любыми проявлениями дискриминации, в особенности с национализмом и гомофобией. Мало кто знает, но его работа в этой области была признана историками одной из самых влиятельных в области движения за права геев.
By the way, not so long ago we published a translation of one of his latest statements on this subject, given in anticipation of the US elections in 2017.