October 11 is National Coming Out Day and newsfeeds everywhere are filled with artistically themed rainbows, photos of same-sex couples kissing and heartwarming coming out videos. It’s a beautiful expression of pride and it’s enough to make any queer person want to announce their sexual orientation.
But you don’t have to come out today.
If revealing your sexuality will put you at risk for violence, then don’t feel pressured into coming out.
If the thought of announcing your gender identity makes you want to hurt yourself, then don’t feel pressured into coming out.
If you’d lose your home or financial security due to your queerness, then don’t feel pressured into coming out.
If you just aren’t ready yet, then don’t feel pressured into coming out.
Only come out when you feel comfortable. It’s a highly personal and extremely delicate process that can never be rushed. Not all people are privileged enough to reveal their sexuality or gender identity but that doesn’t make them any less queer. You are not defined by the number of people who know you’re a member of the LGBTQ community. You are defined only by how you view yourself.
It took me 21 years to come out to myself, 23 years to come out to my family and 27 years to come out to the world. In fact, this is actually my first time publicly celebrating National Coming Out Day. I know how isolating today can be for those who desperately want to claim their queer identity but lack the ability to do so safely.