Being outed by a close friend or family member is a constant threat when you’re living in this unforgiving heteronormative world. When you’re securely in the closet, like how I once was, the thought of other people knowing something so intimate can be terrifying. When I was outed I was in high school and confided in a girl who also identified as queer, who told my friends about my sexuality. Thankfully, I was in a safe situation and none of my friends reacted negatively or violently, however others might not be as lucky.
Here are 5 tips for what to do if you’ve been outed by someone:
1. Don’t Panic. It’s a huge invasion of privacy for someone to share such a personal secret about you, but you can still control your reaction to it. It’s up to you whether to deny or embrace the rumors around your sexuality. You’re allowed to feel angry and betrayed, but don’t go into panic mode. Instead, assess the situation and figure out what you’re options are for moving forward.
2. Find a safe space. Your physical safety is the most important thing to be aware of now that people know your queer. If you’re afraid that someone is going to become violent, remove yourself from the situation immediately and call the police. There are so many services and hotlines that will help in situations like these.
3. Find a Support Network. No Matter how hopeless your situation feels (or how Republican your parents are) there will always be people who love and accept you for who you are and who you love. Reach out to friends and tell them that you need their support now more than ever. If you’re too nervous about reaching out to people in your life, go online and find support groups. Finding this sense of community will help you feel less isolated and connect you to some amazing people who will help you transition to life outside of the closet.
4. Learn Who Your Real Friends Are. You should look closely into your relationship with the person who outed you because they betrayed your trust. This is an incredibly personal detail and being coerced or tricked into coming out when you’re not ready is a terrible thing to do to a friend. You should take some time and really consider whether you want them in your life anymore. Don’t feel obligated to forgive them because what they did could have put your life in danger, a real friend wouldn’t have put you in that situation to begin with.
5. Move on. This step is so much easier said than done. I still get angry thinking about how my friend spread this secret about me, taking away my choice of who to tell and when. But it’s important to pick yourself up, don’t dwell on it for too long and instead look to the future and how you can cope. This is not the end of the world, just one more step in a long journey.
If you’re in crisis and need to talk please call: 866-488-7386