Many queer women may feel the need or the pressure to come out of the closet. Coming out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual is a difficult process that involves both exploring your identity and sharing your identity with others. Coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing your sexual orientation/identity. It can be a gradual process or one that is very sudden.
Some people never had the opportunity to come out of the closet, they were outed, and all of a sudden they are forced to tell people about their sexual orientation. The society we live in strongly enforces codes of behaviour regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and most people receive the message that they must be heterosexual and act according to society’s definition of their gender. Across West Africa, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people live in an increasingly hostile environment, and a recent surge in homophobic laws, violence, and arrests has focused new attention on the struggles of LGBTQ people in the region.
It’s essential, however, that you take the time to consider your circumstances when deciding to tell people close to you that you are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. What may be right for one person, may not be suitable for you. Your safety and well-being should always come first.
Despite living in homophobic countries, we still live our authentic lives, “We have to do it because we can no longer stay invisible. We have to be invisible. We should not be afraid of who we are.” – Sylvia Rivera.
- Some of the issues queer people face when coming out include;
- Rejection (Rejected by family and friends)
- Conversion Therapy
- Lack of financial support
- Loss of Job, etc.
The prospect of coming out, of revealing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, can be a daunting one in any given situation. However, here are some tips for coming out:
IS THIS A GOOD TIME? Don’t feel pressured, because your queer friends are out of the closet doesn’t mean you should follow suit. Take your time. Coming out is about you and no one else. Don’t come out to please others, do what makes you comfortable.
BE FINANCIALLY STABLE – This is very important, make sure you have a safety net if things don’t go to plan.
IGNORE THE STEREOTYPES AND LABELS – Being lesbian, gay or bi does not have to define you. Be clear about your feelings about being queer and just do YOU!
HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM – There should be someone or a group that you can turn to for emotional support and strength. You know there is support available if you ever find yourself feeling lost or alone.
RESEARCH – You are not alone, read up on other people’s experiences. Most people who come out go through the same anxieties and they experience very similar fears.