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Coming Out and Disclosure

Coming Out and Disclosure are about choosing whether you share your sexuality and/or gender with others in your life. Read on to find out more.

Teen having conversation with another

Coming Out vs. Inviting Others In vs. Disclosure

What’s the difference?

  • LGBTIQA+ people usually go through a lot of questioning and learning about themselves before deciding if they want to share their sexuality and gender with other people.
  • ‘Coming Out of the Closet’ is a saying that means someone has decided to openly share their sexuality or gender identity with others.
  • Some people think that this saying gives the impression that the approval of straight and cisgender people is needed for someone to ‘Come Out’ (Like: “Oh, you’ve finally decided to be honest with us!”).
  • Instead, some people think the saying ‘Inviting Others In’ is a better way of describing how important people are ‘invited’ to know someone’s sexuality as a way of showing love and trust.
  • The word ‘Disclosure’ is a better way of describing how non-binary and Trans people share their gender identity with others, since they are letting others know their gender is different to their assigned sex.

Challenges to Inviting In and Disclosure

  • Because of the common belief that everyone is straight and male or female, people in the LGBTIQA+ community are in situations where they may Invite Others In or Disclose their identity regularly.
  • The good news is that many people have positive experiences Inviting Others In and Disclosing their identity, when it is among people that are trustworthy and supportive.  
  • The less good news is that many people have negative experiences, like: feeling invalidated, being outed, major relationship conflicts and being discriminated against. For this reason, people in the LGBTIQA+ community are at a higher risk for mental health problems than others.
  • To help keep themselves safe, some LGBTIQA+ people may be open about their identity among some people but not others. Like being open about themselves at school, but private in front of their family.
  • With the hard work of LGBTIQA+ rights advocates and allies – more and more people are growing up surrounded by others that are supportive of their sexuality and gender identity.

No two situations of Inviting Others In or Disclosures are the same

Inviting Others In and Disclosure are things that people in the LGBTIQA+ community go through in many different ways.

Some people may even have a sexual and gender identity to share with important people in their life, if they are non-binary or Trans and also happen to not be straight.

Even before they have Invited Others In or Disclosed their identity, some can feel worried about life changes and risks that may follow being open about their sexuality or gender identity.

Some people have to think about issues like racism (if they are from a diverse cultural background) or their religion (if this is a big source of support for them) before making the decision to Invite Others In or Disclose their identity.

Because of the risk of being rejected and discriminated, some people have to think carefully about their level of independence, living arrangements, money situation and the attitudes of the people they live near, before Inviting Others In or Disclosing their identity.

Discrimination is another issue for some people when Inviting Others In or Disclosing their identity, even within the LGBTIQA+ community. For example, bisexual, non-binary, Trans and asexual people may be discriminated because of misunderstandings about their identities.

Tips for Inviting Others In and Disclosing in a safer way

Try not to feel pressured to Invite Others In or Disclose your identity.
Only you will know when the time is right. You don’t even have to label yourself or share your identity if you don’t want to!
Inviting Others In and Disclosure doesn’t always go well. 
Having a backup can help make things more manageable, like: planning to stay with a friend or having a sibling talk to parents.
Inviting Others In and Disclosure is different for everyone.
Some people make a celebration of things by having a party or sharing the news on social media. Others just tell a couple of trusted people. How you do things is up to you!
It’s impossible to know for sure how someone will react to you Inviting them In or Disclosing your identity.
 You can sometimes get an idea by testing their reaction to current LGBTIQA+ news or a made up situation involving a friend who has Invited you In.
Try to remember that while you’ve had a long time to understand your sexuality or gender, this is brand new to others and may be a surprise.
Shock and surprise doesn’t always mean disapproval. Try to be patient if someone needs time to process things or have questions that you feel OK answering.
Having support can make a big difference when Inviting Others In or Disclosing your identity to less understanding people.
A trusted friend, teacher or counsellor can help you plan conversations, celebrate successes and provide support if things don’t go well.

Remember, you're not alone

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This content was last reviewed 15/06/2018

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