After reading James' post from yesterday about his horrible coming out experience, I thought I would offer some suggestions about coming out. My own experience was easy and anti-climactic. But I've seen tons of friends come out, and several themes keep recurring. Note: this is a list from people who came out in the last 10-20 years. Certainly, things were much different and worse in the past. Here is the gist of what I've gleaned: 1) Staying in the closet permanently makes you paranoid and miserable in the long run. And it makes others have power over you. I know one woman who was outed by a nasty ex-girlfriend. Do it yourself in your own way in your own time. 2) Every coming out process is unique. There is no precise formula. You and the people you tell are humans, full of pre-conceived notions, biases, outlooks on the world. I have an aunt who is a nun, and to my surprise she was very supportive. 3) Never tell out of hate or mix the issue with any other personal issues. One college acquaintence was failing out of school, had a sister get knocked up, a brother with a recent DWI and had raging alcoholics for parents. In a bitter and profane 5-way family argument about mostly money he blurted out he was gay in an attempt inflict pain on his awful parents (he admits this). His disintegrating family proceeded to use the revelation as the root on which they blamed everything. 4) Tell a "safety person" first from your family or close friends. This person is often a sibling or best friend. This person should be close to you, open-minded, and not be a blabber mouth. You should choose someone you can use as a sounding board. If this person is gay or has gay friends, all the better. In my case, my very straight older brother was there for me. 5) Tell everyone individually. Obviously, coming out can be a shock for some people, and they can be emotional. Don't put them on display. Be respectful of their need to react in their own way. And don't do it online! Anyone close enough to you to be told should be told in person. If distance is truly an issue, then at least do it on the phone. But in person is best. 6) Don't tell someone with the power to inflict harm on you. I mean this both physically, but also mentally and financially. If you live in a small town, have no friends, and live with Mom, it might be best to wait to tell her when you are out on your own. 7) Tell people when you are at a good place in your life: if you are into drugs, unemployed, dropping out of school, it plays into parental fears that upi will not have a happy life. 8) Determine who needs to be directly told, and who is on a "need-to-know" level. I told my closest family and friends only. Beyond that I only told people as it came up naturally. I think you don't have to call up Uncle Wally you haven't seen in 10 years just to tell him you're a homo, or your girlfriend from 10th grade... I stopped pretending to be straight at 19, told brother, parents, and close friends by 20. Beyond that, I would mention it as it came up. My grandparent's generation I never told. I would have if I saw them all the time, but seeing grandma twice a year didn't seem she really needed to know. It could possibly have hurt her, to no benefit for me, her, or society as a whole. To their credit, I am rather certain they knew. They stopped asking me about girls in my early twenties, and were still loving grandparents. 9) Tell someone when they are in a good mood, relaxed, sitting down, and totally sober. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at the bad opportunities some people choose. 10) Be there with answers, reassurance, and help. "Do you have safe sex?" Of course, Mom. "How long have you known?" My whole life, Dad. "What if they find out at your job?" They already know, and our LGBT softball team beat the accounting department last week. Having info for PFLAG or a support group handy is also a plus. 11) Embrace those who are supportive. Don't hate those with a bad reaction. In the long run, coming out is a highly positive experience for most people. 12) When you are fully happily out, be there for the next generation! Help someone else with their coming out.