Julie Answers: How do I overcome my anxiety about coming out?
Elly asked: How do I overcome feeling anxious about telling the people in my life that I am dating a girl? My girlfriend wants me (she/her) to stop hiding our relationship; only my immediate family knows. How should I mentally prepare for this change? Additionally, I am already a very private person, so I rarely tell my friends personal matters, making this even more difficult. I know my close friends from when I attended a religious elementary school, so once I tell them, this news will likely spread very fast, and I imagine attending community events will be uncomfortable from that point forward. I am torn between my relationship and my privacy. I would hate for this to be the reason why our relationship fails, but I have been dreading this moment since I knew I was queer.
Wow, I can only imagine how scary it feels to have come to this crossroads, this potential turning point. No matter the situation, just the idea that the time has come to face an experience you have been dreading …That is a daunting prospect and is a huge weight to bear. Here are a few things to reflect on as you contemplate that.
You said only your immediate family knows you are queer and dating a girl. Does that mean they are supportive? I would be very happy to hear that they are, that you are not in the heartbreaking position that so many queer people from religious families find themselves in. No matter how much judgment you feel, anticipate, and fear from the outside world, that acceptance is something to hold on tightly to. I’m curious also about how these family members feel about you coming out to your friends and community. I imagine that they are either supportive, or that they have the same fears you do about being judged. If they are more comfortable with the idea than you are, I would try to really rely on them to remind you that you have a right to be open about who you are and hold your head up high, no matter what kind of disapproval you face, because you are on the side of right, equality, justice, and love. If they are also struggling with the “what will people think?” issue, I recommend trying to connect online with other queer people from your religion who have come out. I suspect there are many who can share their own stories and experiences. Maybe some of them were…