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FAQ: I came out as a lesbian. Now what?

Q: Hey, last week I came out to my family as a lesbian. I’ve been working up to it for a while, and it went alright. My friends have known for a long time, and they were supportive, which was great. But now that I’m out, I don’t really know what to do or what’s next? How do I move forward with my being a lesbian? (Sorry, I don’t know how else to word this…)

This is a great question, and a very common feeling to have. Sometimes we can spend so much time imagining what coming out to certain people is going to be like (especially family) that we don’t spend any time thinking about what life is going to be like after that. While we can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen now (because everyone’s life is different) here are some things to keep in mind while you move through the next chapter of your life:

How you live your sexual orientation is up to you!

Honestly, there’s no specific way to be a lesbian. You don’t have to act a certain way, talk a certain way, dress a certain way, and it’s not like once you come out you have to immediately start dating or anything. Coming out is a great step towards being open with who you are, but you are still totally in control of what that looks like for you. There’s no automatic next step that you have to do, it’s really just whatever you want to do. The process of coming out is different for everyone.

Coming out is an ongoing process.

Just because you’re out to some of your friends or family doesn’t mean that you’re completely done coming out. Depending on the situation, you might come out to new friends, teachers, coworkers, neighbours, and perhaps even to potential future partners. Now these might not all feel as serious as coming out to your family, but there are probably going to be lots of moments in your life where you’ll be telling other people that you’re a lesbian. It can help to think of coming out not as a one-time thing, but as a conversation you regularly have.

Sexuality can be fluid. This might change.

Just as you might come out lots of times in your life, what you’re coming out about could possibly change. We all change or learn more about ourselves as we get older, and that can include stuff about our sexuality. Coming out is not a final statement, but the start of a conversation that you’re having with yourself and with others about who you are and who you are becoming. You might identify as a lesbian for the rest of your life, and that’s great! But how you understand yourself and move through the world could change, and you might come out again with a different identity down the line, and that’s great too!

****Quick Affirmation****
  • Just because how you identify might change down the road doesn’t mean that you are any less who you are right now. If you identify as a lesbian now, then you are a lesbian. Being open to a more fluid idea of sexuality and sexual identity doesn’t invalidate your current identity.

Looking for role models in media.

Try to think about lesbians that you see in movies or tv shows or in books. Either real or fictional characters, these people can help you imagine what your life as a lesbian could be like, and can maybe help show you a path to follow. Having your identity represented in the media you enjoy doesn’t only validate your identity, but it can also provide you with a role model you can try to look up to.

****Something to Remember****
  • Marginalized identities don’t always have the most positive representations in media, or even just representations that fit who you are. It might take some work to find lesbians that you admire or might want to be like, so try not to be discouraged if you have to dig around or do some research. Try asking your friends or family to keep an eye out for characters or people that remind them of you. That can be a good place to start!

Try to be patient. You don’t have to figure it out right now.

As we mentioned above, you get to decide how you want to be a lesbian, and there’s also no rush on when you have to decide that! Coming out can feel like a really big step, and it’s okay if you want to take a minute to gather your thoughts (or even just take a break from prioritizing your sexuality). We are all more than just our sexual orientations, and it can sometimes be healthy to spend some time with other aspects of our identities.

All in all, it can sometimes help remembering that unless you decide you’re not a lesbian, you’re still a lesbian no matter what you’re doing. Just like how you still love pizza even when you’re not eating it, or you’re still a fan of Beyonce even if she’s not right in front of you, you’re still a lesbian even if you’re not actively doing something in the name of being a lesbian. Your sexual orientation doesn’t define you, but it’s always with you and you don’t have to do anything special to identify with it. YOU can choose how to portray yourself to the world.

Resources

If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]

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