Challenges of Coming-Out Gay or Lesbian Later in Life
Moshe Rozdzial, LPC
Are you attracted to the same gender as you, for as long as you can remember?
Are you passing or pretending to be heterosexual to avoid rejection?
Have you sought out sexual relationships with a same-sex partner?
Are you drawn to books and movies about same-sex relationships?
Do you fantasize about same-sex relationships?
Are you in a heterosexual marriage or relationship but know you’re living a lie?
If you answered yes to these questions, it is likely that you are Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual (LGBT). Unlike previous generations, homosexuality is much more acceptable in this day and age. Yet, the social and religious view of homosexuality can lead to deep feelings of shame and guilt about claiming your authentic sexuality. For those still in the closet, same-sex attraction generates fear and self-loathing, leading to depression, isolation, and susceptibility to addiction.
Steps to overcoming internalized homophobia and becoming whole:
1). Letting go of the fears of rejection and isolation: you are not alone, and, you will find supportive others whether Gay or straight.
2). Take the risk of meeting Gays and Lesbians in supportive environments, like coming-out groups, PFLAG or Gay-focused political or philanthropic organizations.
3). Letting go of the myths that being Gay is a gender issue: you are not more or less male or female because you are Gay.
4). If you are a person of faith, find open and affirming religious congregations or faith communities.
5). Come out one person at a time, suspending your anticipation, since you will not know how others will react until they do, good or bad.
6). Addressing the mistaken beliefs that homosexuality is a mental disorder or a choice: seek out books and articles on LGBT issues and stories that normalize the lives of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender people.
7). Invest in the truth. Become a fact checker to challenge homophobic myths and lies: LGBT people can lead healthy prosperous lives as individuals, in relationships, and as parents.
8). LGBT-focused counseling and psychotherapy creates a safe and supportive space for addressing fears and anxieties about the coming-out process.