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Coming out - how to do it and what does "going out of the closet" actually consist of? Coming out is the process of revealing your psychosexual orientation - informing your family, friends or co-workers about being gay or lesbian. So read on for how to tell others about your orientation and when to do it. Meet famous people who came out and find out where to go for help!

Coming outis an English term that has been adopted in Polish and comes from the longer expression "coming out of the closet", meaning "to leave the closet". This formulation describes the entire process of revealing your orientation - first to yourself / yourself, then to others. Coming out is not really a one-time act - we do it in front of various people throughout our lives, and we mature before the decision to take it. Those whose orientation is a minority in a given society - that is gays and lesbians (as well as bisexual and transgender people)1 .

The decision to come out is a very individual matter, some homosexuals already at the age of teenagers inform their parents and friends about their orientation and have no problems with it - they are sure both of their identity and the fact that they have in their early youth, they want to live in harmony with each other. However, not everyone has the confidence and courage (and does not have to) to come out as quickly. Some gays and lesbians take longer to come to terms with the fact that, unlike most of their peers, they are not interested in the opposite sex. So first they look for people close to each other, only later they want to announce their long-hidden identity to the world.

Coming out: how to do it?

Whether you are a teenage lesbian or a 30-year-old gay, if you are considering telling someone about your homosexual orientation for the first time, you will definitely weigh the pros and cons. You don't want to make up a lot of excuses why you don't have a boyfriend / girlfriend, but there is a rainbow flag in your room. So we present the issues that should be taken into account before coming out.

The expression "coming out" was first used for ladies debuting at salons,which appeared at great balls to potential candidates for husbands.

1. Find out what your loved ones approach towards homosexuals

One of the biggest concerns of homosexuals about coming out is about rejection by parents, to whom we usually want (or feel obligated) to be told first. Before coming out in front of your mum and dad, especially if you are a minor, it is worth investigating what their approach to homosexuals is: how they say about them, how they comment on various media reports on this subject. If they are clearly homophobic and you are under 18 or financially independent, it is better to wait for independence or develop a plan B - ask for support from your best friend, a friend with whom you can stay or apply to a support organization LGBT + people in Poland (their list can be found at the end of the article) if the parents' reaction was not positive. In the case of adults it is easier because most often they do not live with their parents anymore, and they do not support them.

2. Remember the right time and place

Coming out - how to tell your loved ones? It is not worth making it via SMS, as this can result in a lot of misunderstandings and understatements. It is much more difficult emotionally to have a face-to-face conversation, but in the end it is easier to explain everything during the interview. However, do not decide to come out during your sister's wedding or visiting the fitting room - do it calmly, in the comfort of your home. This does not mean that coming out cannot be spontaneous - if at a given moment you feel the need to say: "I'm gay, I'm a lesbian", and you've thought about it a lot before - let yourself do it, but it's better to have tea at home, in your favorite coffee shop - in a safe place. Remember that your relatives - your parents and siblings - often guess you're homosexual.

Worth knowing

Coming out of famous people

A lot of people have come out in recent years - check out some of them!Polish coming out

  • prof. Maria Janion - literary historian and literary critic
  • Rober Biedroń - politician, mayor of Słupsk
  • Jacek Poniedzialek - actor
  • Kasia Adamik - director, Agnieszka Holland's daughter
  • Michał Piróg - dancer and choreographer
  • Michał Witkowski - writer
  • Marcin Szczygielski - writer
  • Tomasz Raczek - film critic, publisher
  • Michał Kwiatkowski - singer
  • Anna Laszuk - journalist and publicist, died in 2012

Coming out of foreign celebrities

  • Jodie Foster - actress
  • Cynthia Nixon - actress
  • Cara Delevingne - model and actress
  • Kristen Stewart - actress
  • Ricky Martin - singer
  • Sir Ian McKellen - actor
  • Ellen Page - actress
  • Neil Patrick Harris - actor
  • Troye Sivan - Youtuber, singer
  • Tyler Oakley - according to the "Forbes" ranking, the 5th best-earning YouTubers in the world
  • Jason Collins - First NBA Basketball Player Out Before Retirement

3. Learn about the experiences of other LGBT people +

Nothing helps you like supporting other people in a similar situation. If you are a minority (in this case a sexual minority), you are lucky to live in the 21st century. At least when it comes to the possibility of contact with other homosexual people not only in your environment, but via the Internet also throughout the country (and in the world, but in the case of coming out, it does not necessarily make sense to compare your experiences with people living, for example, in Denmark, who as the first to legalize gay marriage, or in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death). Read how and under what circumstances other Poles came out, what were the reactions of their loved ones, what their behaviors and attitudes may indicate a possible negative perception of your "coming out of the closet".

One of the LGBT + anthems is Diana Ross's 1980 song "I'm coming out" - "I'm coming out of the wardrobe, let everyone know" - sings the singer.

4. Feel free when you mature yourself to it

Ie. Don't be persuaded by other gays or lesbians, or by your partner, if you don't feel ready to come out. It is one thing to learn about the experiences of other LGBT + people and build your own decision to reveal yourself based on them, and another thing to follow their decisions if you are not ready for them yourself.

5. The coming out process is also what happens after disclosure

If you already have the "exit from the closet" behind you, family or friends may try to force you to "promise" that it is only for a moment - they will ask you if you are sure of your decision or not you want to change it, or you want to exit in front of someone else. Or they may argue that it is absolutely impossible for their child to be gay or a lesbian. How to answer them? Admit thatYou understand that your confession may come as a shock to them, but this decision is the result of long reflection, that it has always been like that, only now you talk about it out loud. Resolute their desire to "change" your psychosexual orientation and say that you no longer want to hide who you are. Add that you understand that, just like you used to, they also need time to get used to this fact.

According to an expertDr. Agata Loewe, psychotherapist and sexologist - Campaign Against Homophobia, Institute of Positive Sexuality
  • Is coming out a one-off event? Or rather a process that never ends?

Agata Loewe:Coming out is a process that we call both single "disclosures" of a gay or lesbian to specific people, and the whole path that a given person has to go through to define herself as homosexually oriented. It takes time to become aware of your own homosexuality, as well as to come to terms with the fact that (at least for the moment in Poland) you will not be able to officially start your own family, have children ( although even in our country some homosexual couples, most often women, raise children together ). Only later do we come to a decision about leaving with information about our homosexuality to other people.

  • Why do homosexuals decide to come out?

Gay or lesbian, about whose homosexual orientation no one knows yet (at least not officially) live in constant tension. This secret kept by them may be accompanied by the so-called minority stress. Minority stress, as the name suggests, accompanies people belonging to a religious, ethnic or sexual minority. A homosexual person may wonder if the fact that he or she has a different orientation than the majority makes him worse, he is afraid of rejection in the event of a possible coming out. It is accompanied by the so-called hyper-sensitivity - the feeling that an attack can be expected at any moment because of your sexual orientation - both before it comes out and after it has made its first coming outs. Homosexual people more often than heterosexual people attempt suicide, suffer from depression, constant tension may cause them to use psychoactive substances.

  • How is coming out going?

Different for each person, although psychologists have been trying for years to create a coming-out model that would reflect reality as well as possible and be consistent with the experiences of as many homosexuals as possible. The most floppy is the one developed by Vivienne Cass (exactthe description of this model can be found later in the article - ed. ed.). In short, it can be said that first a gay or a lesbian, most often in adolescence, although it also happens later, questions her heterosexuality and begins to realize that not everyone around is heterosexual. Then comes the period of alienation - a homosexual person clearly feels that he does not fit in with the heteronormative majority, but eventually overcomes this feeling of alienation and turns into full emotional self-acceptance. In the next phase, he feels proud of his identity, and in the last phase he accepts not only the fact that he is a homosexual person, but this fact ceases to be the main factor defining him.

  • What reactions do homosexuals encounter after the first coming out?

I am a psychotherapist, so due to my work I most often meet people in crisis or experiencing difficulties in optimal functioning. Some of my clients, after coming out, are sometimes thrown out of their homes, beaten up in their hometowns, sometimes their parents use house arrest or blackmail. However, I would like to point out that there are also positive stories. Some people successively come out over the course of 10 years and receive such reactions that others don't really care what orientation they are. They have kind friends, acquaintances and family members around them. Some mums participate in equality parades and dance on the platform, and their son or daughter walks a little further.

  • What factors should be taken into account when deciding to come out?

Coming out can be throwing yourself into very deep water. Therefore, before making it among the closest or next friends, it is worth "protecting yourself" - having someone around you who will support us in the event of a negative reaction from the person we talk to. It could be a mom or a friend. Before going out, it's also good to get to know the stories of other revealed homosexuals, find similar people.

  • And how should we react when our relatives - parents and siblings - reacted with anger, indignation - to the news of our homosexuality - attacked us and spoke words that should not be given?

Remember that a homosexual person also takes a lot of time to fully self-accept, so let's also give the parents time. Unfortunately, they can hurt by comparing their son or daughter to a pedophile, reminding their child that they will not give them grandchildren and threatening to have a heart attack. Such a reaction is possibleespecially when a homosexual person is out of the way by someone, i.e. he or she does not inform others about his or her orientation by himself, and this will happen through another person or e.g. by reading SMSs by one of the parents. The stress experienced at this point in terms of revealing a long-hidden secret is so great that it has a lot to do with post-traumatic stress disorder.

It takes time and patience to develop a he althy relationship with your parents. However, after the first shock, they very often acknowledge their child's homosexuality. Although some people sometimes assure everyone around them that their already quite big child is an old bachelor or old maid, they devote themselves to a career and that is why they live with a "friend" or "friend". Unfortunately, sometimes whole families become victims of homophobia - not in the form of physical violence, but in the form of silence on the part of friends or neighbors, gossiping, verbal attacks.

Remember that there are also many kind, accepting parents who love their child immeasurably, not "something for something" - I will accept you if you promise to find a partner of the opposite sex.

Coming outu models

Coming out, obviously, looks different for each person, but for years psychologists have been trying to point to a model of the "getting out of the closet" process that would be common to most homosexuals. The most popular is the one presented by the psychologist Vivienne Cass in 1979 in her work: "The Model of Homosexuality Identity Formation" and developed on the basis of the author's many years of experience in working with homosexuals2 . The model created by Cass is linear, i.e. each of the 5 phases theoretically follows the other, but it should be noted that this is not a rule - in some cases the phases may occur simultaneously, and sometimes after reaching one of them, but e.g. changing places We are going back to the earlier phases and "working" on coming out anew.

The coming out models described below are presented based on the data contained in the article by Magdalena Mijas, Grzegorz Iniewicz and Bartosz Grabski: "Stadial models of homosexual identity formation. Implications for therapeutic practice"2.

The coming out model by Vivienne Cass consists of the following phases :

1. Confusion of identityThis is where you start to question your heterosexuality - most often it occurs in adolescence, although it does happen in adults as well. All becauseinitially we assume that we are heterosexual - "like everyone" - but when the first homosexual feelings appear, doubts arise. A gay or lesbian begins to wonder who he really is. According to Cass, the best remedy for these doubts is to follow your newfound identity - to explore it. Not everyone is ready for it right away, but such a decision is a prerequisite for moving to the next stage of coming out.

2. Identity list

At this stage, a homosexual person feels a lack of belonging, a social alienation that results from the difference between who they already know they really are, i.e. gay or lesbian, and how they are perceived by those around them - all the time heterosexual . Coming out is rare in this phase, most often a person seeks contact with other homosexual people and thus overcomes their alienation.

3. Identity Tolerance

Accepting your homosexuality on a deep - emotional - level. A gay or lesbian is not only in the environment of other people of the same orientation, but can also get involved in LGBT + activities, make the first coming out in front of family or closest friends. Only full self-acceptance allows you to proceed to the next stage.

One of the most famous coming outs was the one made by Ellen DeGeneres in the series called … "Ellen". Initially, he excluded DeGeneres from show business, today she is one of his biggest stars.

4. Pride in IdentityAt this stage, there is a gap between the total acceptance of one's sexuality and how homosexuality is perceived by society. There is a division between "us" and "them", which may even result in the rejection of the heterosexual part of society as homophobic. Being gay or lesbian becomes a major part of identity, and a homosexual person has a greater need to come out - if there is mostly positive feedback, they stop seeing society as hostile and move on to the next phase of "coming out of the closet".

5. Identity synthesis

This phase of coming out is distinguished by the cessation of dividing the world into homosexual and heterosexual people, or rather into supportive and non-supportive. A gay or lesbian girl makes successive coming outs, and if she gets mostly positive reactions again, homosexuality as part of his / her identity becomes just one of its elements.

Model McCarn and Fassinger - psychologists who created a separate coming-out model exclusively forlesbians, dividing it into individual and group dimensions 1. Phases of the individual dimension:- phase of awareness - similar to the phase of confusion of identity distinguished by Cass; - phase of deepening / involvement - increasing self-acceptance as a homosexual person, growing attachment to a homosexual minority; - phase of internalization / synthesis - full acceptance of one's sexuality , in many cases there are coming outs.2. Phases of the group dimension:- awareness phase - noticing that heterosexuality is not a universal norm, that there are also homosexuals in society; - deepening / involvement phase - in many cases it means involvement in activities for LGBT + people, There is also a division into "us" and "them" - homosexual and heterosexual people, as in the Cass model; - internalization / synthesis phase - a woman feels safe, fulfilled, in harmony with her psychosexual orientation, does not feel judged solely by society through its prism.

This will be useful to you

Coming out: where to find help?

LGBT + people in Poland - both those who are thinking about coming out and those who have already made it - can find help in one of the many organizations. Their list follows the one published by the Krytyka Polityczna Publishing House in James Dawson's "Rainbow Book"3 . We recommend its reading to all gays and lesbians, as well as bisexual and transgender people - not only the teenagers to whom the author referred it. The list also includes units that organize events, workshops and activities for LGBT + people.

1.Campaign Against Homophobia- nationwide organization supporting LGBT + people and their parents, contact e-mail: [email protected]

2. Fabryka Równości- Łódź - support for LGBT + people and their parents, e-mail contact: [email protected]

3. Stonewall Group- Poznań - support for LGBT + people and their parents, contact e-mail: [email protected]

4. Lambda Warsaw Association- support for LGBT + people and their parents, e-mail contact: [email protected]

5. Tęczówka Association- Katowice - support for LGBT + people and their parents, contact e-mail: [email protected]

6. Stowarzyszenie Tolerado- Tricity - support for LGBT + people and their parents, contact e-mail: [email protected]

7. Stowarzyszenie Miłość nie Wyklucza- an organization promoting the idea of ​​marital equality for homosexual and heterosexual people, contact e-mail: [email protected]

8. Diversity Laboratory Association- Toruń -association organizing meetings, conferences, discussion panels, exhibitions, educational campaigns, workshops, e-mail contact: [email protected]

9. Wiara i Tęcza- a network of informal LGBT + Christian groups present in the cities of Katowice, Kraków, Lublin, Olsztyn, Poznań, Rzeszów, Warsaw, Wrocław, as well as in Kujawy (Bydgoszcz, Toruń, Grudziądz) and in the Tri-City, contact e -mail: [email protected]


1. Coming out for both bisexual and transgender people may be different than for gays and lesbians - in this text we focus primarily on homosexuals.

2. Access to the full text of the article on the website:

3. J. Dawson, "The Rainbow Book. A Guide for Teenagers", trans. D. Dymińska, Krytyki Polityczna Publishing House. Warsaw 2016. In the text we use the male name of the author of the book, because at the time of writing it has not yet undergone gender reassignment - today she is known as Juno Dawson.

About the authorAnna SierantEditor in charge of the Psychology and Beauty sections, as well as the main page of As a journalist, she cooperated, among others. with "Wysokie Obcasy", the websites: and, the quarterly "G'RLS Room". She also co-founded the online magazine "PudOWY Róż". He runs a blog jakdzż

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