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I’m Gay! Now What?

If you feel very attracted to members of the same sex, but need to feel like you have accepted it within yourself, here is a guide to help you. You have found out your sexual orientation, and you are perfectly normal. Accepting who you are–and being proud of who you are–is the next step on the road to coming out and, eventually, to having a successful relationship. Some people have difficulty in accepting their sexual orientation, either because of personal or societal discomfort or pressure. Most people in the LGBT community know from experience that accepting your sexuality will lead to you becoming a happier, more open person. 

Remember, you didn’t choose to be attracted to members of the same sex, and that attempts to change your orientation are usually painful and pointless.

When talking with heterosexual friends or family members, it’s sometimes tough to help them understand this, because they have no frame of reference for your experience. Try to encourage others to see your sexual orientation in the same way as they see your eye color–it is something you were born with and did not choose. It is something that is simply a part of your being and not something you can change. There isn’t any need to. Being gay is just another way of being, and there is nothing wrong with it at all, neither is there anything wrong with you for being gay.

Some people in the world will tell you that your sexual orientation is a choice. 

But the only choice you have is whether or not to accept your orientation. If you do feel that you want to make the choice to accept your sexuality, it would be best to find friends and loved ones to support you, but do not feel–or let yourself be–pressured into believing that you should “change your ways”. If anyone tries to force an opinion on you that you do not agree with, such as that your sexuality is unnatural, sinful or symptoms of a mental disorder, look elsewhere for support. There is no evidence that “helping homosexuals to become heterosexual” is possible, and treatments to “change” sexual orientation are very damaging to those patients who undergo them and affected no change in their sexual orientation.

Develop and express your individuality. 

If your identity strays from the mainstream (whatever it may be), then be proud of it. You are the one and only you. Understand that a person who is gay is no different from any other person. Like everyone else, gay people have dreams, goals, and want companionship and love just like anyone else you know. Strive every day to be the best person you can be, and remind yourself of the positive qualities and attributes that make you uniquely who you are.

For people to accept you, first you must accept yourself. 

If you can’t accept your sexual orientation and feel comfortable and confident in your own skin, then other people find it harder to fully accept you. It’s your right to love; no one has the right to tell you otherwise. Tell yourself: “I am a person with feelings and intellect and a life, just like everyone else. I am unique and individual, and no one has the right to choose my life for me. The fact that I am gay is just another facet of who I am, just as being creative, optimistic, or having brown eyes is. I may not be like many of my friends, but I choose to live my life authentically and happily. It’s my life, and I choose to be happy.”

Remember that you are not alone. 

There are many, many gay people in all sorts of communities, and there are many people there for you when you need support. There may be agencies, groups, advisers, family members and friends that you can turn to, even if it is just someone to inform of your feelings. Find a group or a hangout where you feel comfortable and where there will be other gay people to talk with. Make some new friends, and, by doing so, you will establish a new network of supportive and encouraging people around you.

Use good judgement if you choose to come out. 

Sadly, not everyone in the world is a modern, accepting person. Don’t broadcast this information to your entire community if you live in a small town or an area where LGBT persons are less likely to be accepted and where you are likely to be harmed physically or emotionally.

If it is very likely or if you feel intuitively that your coming out will have a bad outcome, then don’t. As long as you know who you are, that’s plenty for the short term. In the end, your sexual orientation is your business. Eventually, people may figure it out, and you will need to decide whether to stay in that situation or move on to a place that is more accepting.

If you are still being supported by parents whom you are quite sure would disown you for being gay, it may be prudent to wait to tell them until you are independent. It may be vital for your survival to hold off on coming out until, for example, you have graduated high school or college or you have moved into a place of your own.

Show people who you are. 

Coming out of the closet is the boldest step in accepting your sexual orientation, but once you begin to live “out,” it does not mean that you have to change who you are or what you like. Don’t go trying to change yourself or wishing that you were like the other people in your life to cater to the comfort levels of others. You can’t please everyone, and those who care about you will still love you for who you are. If someone can’t accept the one small facet of who you are and can’t still respect you for the person that you are, then they aren’t worth your time or letting it bother you. It’s not your fault if other people can’t accept it.