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Coming Out to Yourself: How to Stop Living in Denial

The process of coming out of the closet begins with accepting your own sexual orientation.

Coming out is a difficult process for most gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. The most difficult part of the coming out process may be coming out to yourself and accepting your own sexuality. You may be wondering if you are actually gay or bi, or if you are simply “confused.” You may also be reluctant to accept the fact that you are attracted to members of your own sex if you were raised in a homophobic environment, and want to continue to live in denial. These feelings are normal, but it is important to accept yourself for who you are if you want to be truly happy.

How can you know if you are gay or just “confused?” If you are attracted only to members of your own sex, you are gay. If you are attracted to both genders, you are bi. It’s that simple. Where it gets confusing is when you are in denial. Most of us were told from a young age that we would eventually settle down with someone of the opposite sex, and have internalized this “goal.” It can be difficult to determine if you are actually attracted to the opposite sex, or if you are simply attracted to the idea of settling down in that “normal” life that your parents always wanted for you. For example, if you’re a woman, you may date men simply because you have been socialized to want marriage and children someday, even if deep down you know that you really want to be with another woman. 

There is no such thing as being “confused.” Straight people like to throw this word around to make non-straight people feel like there is something “wrong” with their sexual attractions, and that eventually they will figure it out and end up with someone of the opposite sex. Any “confusion” you feel is simply the result of internalized denial. Once you learn to accept yourself for who you are, you won’t feel “confused” anymore.

Before you can come out to other people, you must first come out to yourself, and actually learn to accept your sexual orientation as part of your identity. To begin this process, you may want to write your feelings down in a diary or journal. It may seem a bit juvenile to keep a diary, but writing down your thoughts and feels are a great way to sort them out.  Start a diary entry with “I am gay” or “I am bisexual” (whichever the case maybe), and write down all of your feelings surrounding this new revelation to yourself. You may want to write about how you first started to think you were “different” (for example: Was there anyone you had a crush on as a kid who was the same gender as you? When did you first notice you were attracted to other girls/boys?). It may seem silly to write this down, but seeing it in black and white can help you to actually accept it. Remember, no one else is going to read your diary or journal. 

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