Practice Coming Out
The thought of coming out to people who are very important in our lives (family, friends and colleagues) can
often seem intimidating. Many gay men put off coming out to family and friends because they lack confidence
in their own newly discovered identity. Sometimes that procrastination can last a number of uneasy
years. Finding non-threatening situations in which you can live your identity can go a long way in building
your confidence–and your self-esteem as a gay man.
I am not advocating sexual experimentation. Instead, I suggest you place yourself in situations in which
people will assume that you are (or may be) gay rather than the usual situation of assuming that you are
heterosexual. Here are a few options that are commonly available in most cities:
- Gay support group. You can find lots of groups of gay men. In schools, for example, there may
be a Gay-Straight Alliance. Lots of churches have groups of gays and lesbians who work to find the common
points between their religion and their sexual identity. Many community centered mental health
organizations offer groups in which men discuss their common issues of identity, coming out, relationships,
- Gay social group. Many cities have gay bowling (or softball or some other sport) leagues. There
are gay film clubs in which men meet regularly to attend a film together and gather at a restaurant to talk
afterwards. I live in a medium sized city, and we have groups that are organized around virtually any
leisure activity you can think of. All welcome new members enthusiastically.
- Gay coffee shop or bar. This option is best suited to someone who is relatively assertive. You
will need to be able to introduce yourself to a stranger. If you choose a bar, I suggest that you not
consume alcohol, so that you remain focussed on your objective–to get used to living as an out gay man.
How do you find out about your options? Call the lesbian and gay hotline. You’ll
find it listed in the white pages or online. Find a local gay newspaper or entertainment guide (often
available at newstands or book stores). Call a local mental health organization. If you’re in school,
ask your school counsellor. If none of that works, contact us and we’ll try to
help you (North America only, please).