Determining whether coming out is right for you

This post is intended for anyone considering whether coming out is right for you. Although coming out is often celebrated as a key moment of accepting yourself as queer, it is but one way of loving yourself. For some, coming out might not be preferable or even safe. This post is written for you.

To illustrate what I mean, allow me to use an analogy from the physical practice of yoga, asana, and explore the concept of coming into yourself instead of coming out to the world.

In the physical practice of yoga, the aim of achieving a specific posture is to move beyond the discomfort of something new or unfamiliar and finding the ‘ease’ in the posture, in  preparation for meditation.

The way in which one distinguishes between discomfort, caused by the unfamiliar, and pain, caused by exceeding one’s boundaries, is through the breath.

How you cultivate this awareness comes from listening to your own breath as you ease into a posture. If you can allow yourself to relax, through inhalation and exhalation, you communicate to your mind and body that it is safe to continue in this posture.

The opposite is true when you panic. When your breath is racing, it signals to your body and mind that this posture is unsafe. Your body stiffens as a result.  When your body stiffens, it is important to go back to your breath and focus on the area where you are experiencing the discomfort or pain. 

If after a few breaths your body is still unable to relax into the posture, then your body is indicating the possibility of harm. Should you decide to continue after you have tried calming yourself and your body has indicated possible harm, then remaining in that position becomes a harmful practice. 

Forcing yourself to do something you are not ready nor prepared for could impede your growth in the practice. The difficulty is that learning to go back to your breath and  distinguishing between pain and discomfort is actually where growth happens. And because everybody is different, the practice cannot be taught in general terms. Learning to distinguish between pain and discomfort is therefore incredibly personal.

In coming back to the question of coming out, I hope the analogy can serve as an illustration of how incredibly personal this decision is. If coming out is an act of self-love and acceptance, then surely being authentically you should not put you in harm’s way. You are the only one who knows your circumstances. You are the only one that can determine whether coming out is right for you. Maybe, coming out could mean losing your family, your safety net, your community or even death. Maybe coming out does not resonate with you.

It is not our place as a society to prescribe what you should do. Prescribing coming out as the only authentic way of being queer undermines your ability to decide whether coming out is right for you or whether it is a harmful practice.  Your sexuality, your safety and your security should never be up for debate or external validation. I hope you can choose what works for you, knowing that you are incredible just because you are!

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