Coming out is a defining moment in a queer person's life. Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, has even been dedicated to celebrating people in the LGBTQ+ community who live and wear their sexuality, gender identity, and expression out on their sleeve
But as momentous an occasion as it is for queer people to come out, not everyone is able to step out of the closet and that's okay. Not coming out doesn't always mean not being able to live your true self. There are factors to why people stay in the closet and their queerness is just as valid as any out person's.
If you're a queer person reading this, contemplating whether or not you should come out, I—someone with a foot out of the closet—offer a couple of reasons why it's okay to stay closeted.
It's not always safe to come out
Not everyone is privileged to be born in an environment that's accepting of queer people. Consider your situation at home first before coming out—as much as you want your loved ones to know about your true self, it's not always safe to do so and family members can react differently from how you would expect. Sadly, not all coming out stories turn out to be heartwarming like those we see on screen and online.
Whenever young queer people ask for coming out advice on forums like Reddit, many users will suggest they only come out to their families when they can live on their own. This is in preparation for worst-case scenarios where they could get kicked out.
However, things could be looking up as a 2020 Pew Research revealed 73% of Filipinos think homosexuality should be accepted by society.
You don't owe it to anyone
You don't have to explain your sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression or SOGIESC to anyone, especially if you're not comfortable with it. Although it has become somewhat of a rite of passage for LGBTQ+ people, coming out isn't a requirement for you to be officially gay.
Additionally, sexuality is a spectrum. You may still be figuring out your SOGIESC and aren't sure what you're comfortable identifying with. There's no need to explain yourself to people if you're still figuring it out.
You can live life as a queer person without officially coming out
You can date, fall in love, dress however you want to dress, and do everything out queer people are doing even if you're in the closet. Again, you don't have to explain yourself to anyone who asks you about it.
If you do decide to come out, take your time and make sure you feel safe and comfortable when you do. Happy National Coming Out Day!