PLEASE, DON’T COME OUT!
Original post: August 13, 2016
by Elliott Kronenfeld, LCSW, CST
One of the aspects of my job that I love – probably more than anything else – is when I know I have helped someone to be their very best. When someone comes to see me because they want to resolve a personal conflict or to find a path forward for a more authentic life, I will often encourage them to envision what life will look like on the other side…when they have done the work and can see a different way of being. This is often challenging. Many people can’t see what the other side looks like…they can only see the mire they are in presently.
Such is the case that happened the other day. Now, while as a sex therapist, I often help many people come to terms with living fully within their sexual identity. Sitting across from me, I had an intelligent, balanced person who was struggling with sexual identity. This person was able to articulate for me the love and acceptance that would be expected. However, during our discussion about coming out, I was presented with a deep resistance to the concept of coming out. “Why does it always have to be so dramatic? So in your face? I hate the phrase ‘coming out’!”
This was a deep insight for me. It was a reaction that I have heard before but for some reason this person was able to communicate to me in a different way regarding the stress of coming out. Instantly I got it. The issue is not to come out but to invite in. My response was “OK. Don’t come out. Invite them in. Invite them in to be part of your life.” The real issue is that when people aren’t able to know you in a holistic fashion, then they can’t support you, understanding how you see the world, how to welcome your loved one into the social circle, etc. This concept changed to conversation dynamically.
So, if you are struggling with the concept of coming out as gay, as trans, as living with depression, as an addict, etc., let’s think about this differently. Coming out certainly can feel like you are exposing yourself in a frightening way. Try thinking about it differently. Instead of coming out and exposing yourself in a broad way, invite people into your real life….one person at a time until you feel like you are comfortable, living with support and love.