Coming Out on Your Own Terms

Photo Source: Aiden Craver, @slaiden, via Unsplash.

Halla Mannering  – Somewhere along the way, the queer community (or at least the one I exist in) developed the idea that the only way for advancement was loud, declarative coming out moments. While progression and acceptance are necessary, coming out has become one of the only vehicles we acknowledge for continued development of societal perception.

Those who choose not to come out publicly are often told they’re not deserving of their queer identity. While this may not be the case in all queer circles, it is something I have personally observed.

At what point did coming out become something owed to the queer community? And was that point the moment when those who didn’t come out loudly shifted to being less queer, less worthy, less brave?

Coming out can undoubtedly be a fundamental, revolutionary moment in a queer person’s life. It can be loud and declarative and liberating. It can also be soft and calm and personal. Both of these approaches are valid. Both of these people are worthy.

The queer community stands for diversity and that same principle applies to how individuals choose to share their identities.

Coming out is not a bad thing or something that should be avoided. Instead, I believe that it’s a brilliant step in a queer person’s life. And it’s a step that should be taken when, and if, they personally choose to.

By continuing the narrative that coming out is an essential part of a proud queer person’s identity, we’re perpetuating some of the same harmful lies that have been told to us by society.

Let’s not put queer people into boxes. The rest of society will do that. It’s our job, our responsibility, our calling, to love as a community. Which means compassion for those who haven’t yet come out.

Perhaps one of the hardest parts of coming out is trusting yourself. I’m not surprised by this, as society has been teaching queer individuals to not trust themselves for centuries. But that stops now.

Now we recognize that trusting ourselves is a sacred act. Trusting ourselves, acknowledging our queer identities and thriving in that acknowledgement, is brave. It’s brave because it’s an act of defiance. It’s brave because it’s hard.

It’s brave because it just… Is.

I believe that forced coming outs are one of the most harmful things to the queer community. But what happens when the forcing is done by some of the people in the queer community?

I am writing this as a call to action for us, as a community, to do better. For years we’ve called for action and strength, two things that are still very much needed. However, it’s time for us to show our softness and our acceptance of diverse journeys… Even if they don’t involve a public demonstration of identity.

To all the queer people who have yet to come out, I say this:

Come out when you’re ready. Come out when you feel that it’s time. Come out because you want to, not because you’ve been told your queer identity isn’t valid if you’re not visible. If you don’t feel the need to come out, then don’t.

The rest of the queer community is here. We’ve got you.


Halla Mannering is a Seattle-based freelance writer. She uses her psychology degree to create inclusive content. Her favorite pieces are ones that inspire and inform. Check out her website:

Photo Source: Aiden Craver, @slaiden, via Unsplash.