Developing a Gay or Lesbian Support Network
Developing a Gay Lesbian Support Network – Coming out can be an emotional and scary process. Do you feel isolated and alone? Do you feel like you have no idea what to expect and that you wish that someone could just tell you what it is all about? Do you just want someone to talk to and to help you navigate through this process?
Building a gay/lesbian support network can be a very important part of the coming out process. It is not uncommon for individuals who have identified as gay or lesbian to have very few if any people in their life that are gay or lesbian and can identify with the experience. In addition, it is scary to come out and face the unknown without some support and if you aren’t able to talk to the people in your life because of fear, shame, or embarrassment, you are left to deal with the scariness and unknown by yourself.
Where can you find the information and the individuals?
- Think about the friends in your life that are supportive of you and with whom you feel close. Is this friend(s) that you feel you can trust and who is accepting of you? Consider talking with that person(s) about being gay or lesbian. It may be helpful to go to coffee or dinner, so that you have plenty of time to talk. Tell this person(s) in a way that communicates that you feel positive about who you are and that you want to share this part of yourself with him or her. Even if they are straight, your real friends will want to support you. Your friends may have a lot of questions and you can educate them about you and about being gay and lesbian in general. Share with them some of your experiences or maybe even some of the information or books that you found that helped you. Remember, that some of your friends may need some time to digest this new information. It took you time to be comfortable being gay or lesbian and it is likely that your friends may need some time too.
- Another way to begin building a support network is by going online. Some of the major sites like Yahoo and AOL likely have some message boards/chat rooms where you can talk to others who are beginning the coming out process or who are further along in coming out and can be helpful to you. In Yahoo, try clicking on groups and doing a search for gay and lesbian or coming out groups. In AOL trying looking under people and then clicking on message boards for the gay and lesbian category.
- It is also a good idea to go back to the bookstore or to the books that you may already have on the experience of being gay and lesbian. Reading books about gay and lesbian individuals can continue to help and remind you that you are not the only one going through this experience and to see how others have coped with the process. A few books that you may find helpful include: On Being Gay: Thoughts on Family, Faith, and Love by Brian McNaught, Now That I’m Out What Do I Do by Brian McNaught, Lesbian Passion: Loving Ourselves and Each Other by JoAnn Loulan, and This Is What A Lesbian Looks Like by Kris Kleindienst
- If you still find that you are struggling or would like additional help in building a support network and talking about being gay or lesbian, consider individual therapy. Individual therapy can be helpful by working with an expert you can guide and support you in the coming out process.
Having a support network and resources will be invaluable as you navigate through the coming out process. You need people who will positively affirm your new life and allow you to fully express your true self.