As Madonna always says in one of her most iconic songs to date – it’s time to ‘express yourself’, and not only in terms of not going for second best when it comes to love. It’s 2018 and it’s time for you to, as cliché as it might sound, live your truth and not care what anyone else thinks. If they don’t like what you have to say, they were never your friend, to begin with. However, being out and proud isn’t as easy as it sounds, and sometimes it feels like it’s not the right moment and the right situation to do so. As someone who has struggled with this, someone who dared to ‘blossom’ only once I went away to college, I understand how difficult it can be, and how repressing your true self might seem like an easy and simple choice. What you have to understand is that by hiding who you are, you are just being agreeable and making others happy. While putting the needs of others above your own is kind in certain situations, it’s self-destructive when it comes to this particular matter. Therefore, I hope that these pieces of advice that come from my own experience will help you blossom as well. I honestly do.
Start from within
As someone who has battled with denial, self-loathing and even depression, I can tell you that denying your true feelings doesn’t work – they aren’t going anywhere, and sooner or later they will bubble up. In order to avoid them bursting out in the most negative way possible, begin by acknowledging who you are. Stand in front of the mirror and say ‘I’m gay/bisexual/lesbian/trans. I am amazing. My sexuality is a huge part of me, but it’s not my only identifier. I’m a great person. I have hobbies; I’m smart, and a loyal and fun friend.’ Say it out loud to yourself, every day, and add new great qualities each day – anything you can think off. You would be amazed what this kind of positive affirmations can do for your self-esteem and your readiness to show yourself to the world. Start with the mirror, start with yourself. Say it until you believe it. Once you’re comfortable in your skin, you’ll be able to speak up and show all your true colors to everyone else.
If your body language and certain movement, hand gesture, posture, or way of talking ‘give you away’ – let them. Don’t try to dance like a straight person or control your arms – let your body do the talking. This might sound insignificant, but this is your non-verbal way of conveying who you are. Let people assume it – it’s high time, and if someone openly asks you, find the strength to tell them the truth. Yes, this is who I am, and I wouldn’t trade lives with anyone else. Now, when you do decide to tell all your friends, it’s best to do it one by one – like how Rachel pulled her Friends into a room one by one when she was going to France. It’s somehow more special and intimate, and even safer and comfortable this way than sitting down a large group of people and just blurting it out.
Let it show
Soon enough you’ll realize that coming out one way or another wasn’t the hardest part – you accepting yourself was, and you’ll wonder what the big deal with telling people was in the first place. When I came to this realization I decided to in a way commemorate my journey, my struggles, and how far I’ve come with a tattoo that holds great symbolic meaning to me. I put my trust in the hands of the professionals from the incredible Newtown tattoo studio. I knew Sydney has an amazing and thriving tattoo culture and that this is the right place to get my ink, and if you ever decide to say it with ink, this place is my honest recommendation.
Just do it
You know all those things you wanted to do, but never could because they would ‘reveal you’? It’s time to do them all. Take dance lessons; write a book, a play, a short story about yourself – any form of personal expression will do. Dress the way you’ve always wanted to, style your hair the way you’ve always desired. Throw theme parties, drink whatever kind of drink you want – just because someone straight is having beer doesn’t mean you can’t proudly enjoy a colorful cocktail if that’s what you want. You can even make subtle statements with amazing queer jewelry, or go completely flamboyant and obvious with your style choices.
Know when to stop
Even though it’s 2018 and we had high hopes that everything will be peachy by now, not all of the people in your life are as open-minded, liberal and supportive as you would like them to be, and that’s completely okay. They have the right to remain conservative and judgmental, but that also means that you have the right to limit your contact with them. If they have a problem with your sexuality, they have a problem with you, and you don’t need that kind of toxicity hindering your growth.
Finally, if you find yourself struggling, talk to a therapist. There is no stigma about having a therapist anymore. The thing is, your straight friends, no matter how loving and supportive, can’t even begin to understand what you face sometimes; they can only empathize. This is where a great therapist comes in. You don’t have to have regular sessions if your issues don’t require ‘digging deep’. We could all use some fine tuning every once in a while, so turn to someone equipped to do that.
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