Well Allen, I want to thank you for your question. Since you are the first to ask and as I said in the comment back to you I will start off this post with your question and give you my answer.
You asked a very important question…. When to come out? Well the answer to that part is very easy and doesn’t require much “wisdom” and I would hope anybody reading this would agree that NOBODY can tell someone when is the right time for them to come out. Each persons situation is different and has many different factors which I will try to address a few.
From the way you worded your question, I assume that you are in High School still, but might be in college, either way the considerations are the same. For this response I am going to take the chance of making an ass out of you and me and ASSUME (old people joke) that you are still in High School. Here are some things that you should consider.
First, if you come out now will you be in danger from “friends” or people in your community? If you live in a very conservative community then it may be better to wait on coming out. Second, how will your parents respond? Will they continue to unconditionally love and support you even if they disagree with your orientation? When I say support you, I mean will they still possibly financially support your further education, or god forbid allow you to remain living in their home? Sadly in the United States on any given night approximately 41,000 unaccompanied youth ages 13-25 experience homelessness, more very sad statistics available here: http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/homeless-and-runaway-youth.aspx
One thing is for sure, after considering all the ramifications of coming out, at some point you DO need to come out. When is the right time? Only you know that answer, but I can tell you with 100% certainty it’s when you feel the time is right. There are some links below, I hope you never need but they may come in handy and are good to know about.
- Statistics: http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/homeless-and-runaway-youth.aspx
- Crisis Help Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/textline?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu-39yuDy5QIVEP_jBx2y0A6pEAAYAyAAEgJyMPD_BwE
- Safe Place: https://www.nationalsafeplace.org/what-is-safe-place
The next part of your question is much more personal but I want to be honest and a little brief. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, and I am assuming you are. It was not safe to be “out” in my community, or many parts of the United States in general. I chose to hide my true feelings, and I tried living the “straight life” as so many from my generation did, and in many areas of the country today many people still do. I was in college when I came to terms with my true feelings, and given the career path I had chosen hiding my true feelings seemed like the only choice I had. Now, all these years later, (I came out in my late 60’s) as I look back over my life I now see how that decision to stay closeted, to stay pretending I was something I wasn’t, caused emotional issues which I tried to hide. Trying to live your life while hiding such important parts of your self identity can result in mood swings, and anger as it did with me. My family, and my friends took the brunt of my mood swings, I wasn’t abusive to anybody but I wasn’t the friendliest person to be around and could easily have been described as the grumpy old man. I came out to everyone after many many years, a failed marriage and pretty much no contact with my children. Ironically, it was at the urging of a straight friend, who I had come out to several years earlier that I came out to everyone….Once I had told everyone that I was gay, you hear it said like this all the time BUT it really was like a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders. The anger and mood swings vanished, the stress and worry while lingering over what people might think got less and less, and now today I am who I am, I have some wonderful friends that accept me for who I am and I no longer worry about it. If people cant accept me as myself after all this time, it is very much their loss not mine.
IF ANY READERS WOULD LIKE TO RESPOND TO THIS QUESTION, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DO SO IN THE COMMENTS, THEY WILL BE MODERATED BUT YOUR INPUT MAY HELP THIS YOUNG MAN AS WELL…
I am living life the way I should, AS ME! And I am enjoying it very much! I am an 80 year old Gay man, I now get to travel and try new things, meet new people and have this adventure of my own completely as myself….I hope this helped you in some way, Alfred….