If you’ve made the decision to come out to your roommate, actually doing so can be daunting.
Here are a few suggestions to make the process easier:
- Setting your Facebook’s interested in or sex: Many people go straight to Facebook after finding out their roommate assignment. Having it there lets your future roommate know in advance without making a big deal about actually coming out. (You can also adjust privacy settings in case you don’t want others to see.)
- Online correspondence: Most roommates talk to each other via email or instant messaging before moving in. Telling them online takes away the pressure of a face-to face talk and lets them know in advance in case they have a problem with it.
- Roommate Agreement: Students living in the residence halls receive a form to fill out with their roommate and return to their RA. You can use the time when you are having a conversation about the living situation anyway to tell them.
- Leaving a flyer from Rainbow Alliance on your desk/bulletin board: Rainbow Alliance typically passes out flyers during the Student Activities Fair or for National Coming Out Week (the week of October 11th).
- Having a friend “accidentally” say something: If you’re too nervous to tell your roommate yourself, you can have a friend you trust “accidentally” let something slip to them. This also works well with leaving one of Rainbow’s flyers lying around.
- Just Talk: Coming out doesn’t have to be an ordeal that needs a “perfect moment.” If you feel you are ready to do so, go ahead and do it! Most roommates are completely okay with it. Some may need some time to process, though rarely they will have a problem with it. If you are having a problem with your roommate, visit the Housing Concerns section of this site.
Other New Friends:
Maybe you were out to some friends in high school, or maybe you weren’t. Either way, college is the place to express yourself and surround yourself with people who you know will love and support you. Here are some suggestions for coming out to the people you meet in your building, in your classes, in study groups or clubs, and elsewhere around campus.
- Ease into it. Try mentioning a related topic in conversation. Bring up a Rainbow Alliance event or an LGBTQIA+ topic in the news, and slip your sexuality/gender identity into the conversation. You can also use this technique to “test the waters.” If you’re not sure of someone’s opinion on LGBTQIA+ issues—maybe they’re religious or you’ve heard them say something homophobic or transphobic in the past—then talking about these topics will allow you to see if they are capable of taking LGBTQIA+ issues seriously and judge whether it would be safe for you to come out to them.
- Just say it. If you’re hanging out with a person or people you want to come out to, get their attention by saying “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you” and follow up using your preferred word for your sexuality/gender identity.
- Find an ally. To make things easier, you might want to have a friend who knows your identity and supports you around for some moral support when you come out to other friends.
In most circumstances, your sexuality and gender identity will not have any bearing on your academic career. Some queer and trans students decide to take courses that have to do with gender and sexuality issues (or pursue the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies certificate) in which case your perspective as a member of the queer and/or trans community will be valued. You could also decide to research or write about queer and/or trans issues for English, history, anthropology, sociology, or other classes, which could involve coming out to professors and classmates. If you become friends with a professor or instructor and want to come out to them, it’s probably easiest to do so casually in office hours.
If you ever feel uncomfortable with the way queer and trans topics are discussed in any class, you have a right to speak up about it. If you don’t want to mention your discomfort in front of the class, you can email your professor or go speak to them during their office hours. Try to be clear about why what they said was wrong or offended you, and look for some articles or resources to back up your point. Hopefully they will be receptive and understanding.
Coming out to partners:
Bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and transgender students may face the possibility of beginning a romantic or sexual relationship with someone who doesn’t know about their gender identity or sexuality. This can be dangerous because dishonesty in a relationship leads to hurt feelings on both sides. If you’re in a relationship with someone who you believe will accept your identity, talk to them about it. Tell them that your sexuality doesn’t make you promiscuous or likely to cheat on them, and/or that they should call you by your preferred pronouns regardless of your assigned sex. Your honesty and trust will most likely bring you and your partner closer together. If you’re nervous about coming out, try one of the techniques listed under the Roommates section of this page.
If you’re in a relationship or are about to begin a relationship with a person who you don’t think will accept your sexuality or gender identity, think about your priorities. Is this relationship more important to you than being able to express yourself? If you want to come out but you think coming out to your partner or terminating the relationship would be unsafe for you, use your best judgment and see if you can have friends or others back you up.
A lot of people who were closeted in high school decide to come out to their families during college. If your family isn’t entirely supportive of LGBTQIA+ rights or lives in a community with few LGBTQIA+ individuals, it can be easier to come out once you’ve gained some distance. Some people find it easier to come out to family by starting with one person, usually a trusted sibling, parent, or cousin. That person can then back you up and support you as you come out to other family members. If you’re nervous about coming out, it might help to consult some resources from books or websites that will help you explain your situation to your family.
If you want to be out on a large scale, Facebook and other social media can help with that. You can change your interested in or sex on Facebook, change your Facebook to your preferred name, make statuses or post pictures of you and significant others, or make a “coming out” status or tweet if you want to. You could also get some stickers from Rainbow Alliance (WPU 611) and put them on your phone, laptop, or notebook, which can spark discussion of your place in the rainbow.