Coming out bi, trans, poz? When, why to share your queer truth

Full disclosure can be the right thing to do, but knowing the right timing and reasons to be upfront is trickier. Coming out gay, trans or poz in this wek's The Q advice column.

Q:

I’m 24 and still haven't finalized my sexual orientation. I have done lots of guys and a few girls, and it was all fun, but I still don’t feel bi. Then again, I’m not ready to say I’m 100 percent gay either. 

My friends say that I’m too old to be undecided, and a guy I like told me to come out and don’t get back to him until I do. To make matters worse, my mom doesn’t even know that I at least some of the time I like guys.

Am I bisexual? Should I come out to my mom? Should I just pick a sexuality and roll with it? 

Dear Questioning:

There really should be two Qs in LGBTQ, one for "Queer" and one for “Questioning.” Everyone comes out at their own pace, so ignore any and all pressure until you feel ready. Your mom is a big girl. She can wait, especially since you don’t know yet what to tell her.

Now about all that fun you’re having! There is nothing wrong with liking sex with both genders. There’s also no clock ticking. You are under no obligation to decide at all, ever.

Trying to "pick one" would hurt you and support the notion that people choose orientation. You’re somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and that’s OK. If you stay there, great. If not, also great.

Identifying and disclosing orientation are personal. Don’t try to rush either just because someone else wants an answer. 

Q:

I've been out for 11 years. I’ve always been comfortable with my sexuality, but everything changed when I tested positive for HIV.

I haven’t had a date since my diagnosis. I’m afraid of how potential partners will react. When and how do I tell them? And if the sex is safe, do I have to tell them at all? 

Dear Telling:

Disclosing your serostatus is like coming out all over. Like the first time, those who can’t accept it can’t be your problem, and trust that you can get through it.

There's no right way to reveal that you're positive. It can be situational, but itmay be easier to say it up front before building attachments or expectations. Reactions are going to run the gamut, from bothered not at all, to way too bothered. You’d rather know now which it is.

As for whether to disclose, it's illegal not to do so in Georgia and most other states, but seriously, it’s Golden Rule time: Would you have liked to know?

Q:

I’m the only transgender person I know in my small town. I’m considering coming out, but I have no idea how. Help!

Dear New Here:

Once you come out to yourself, you’re halfway there. Find a trusted confidant – sibling, mentor, friend – to tell first. Together you can anticipate challenges and create a safety plan if someone freaks out. 

Connect with online or community resources, and remember the process can be stressful, so treat yourself well. Finding other gay people may be easier than you think once you come out, even in your town.

The Q is for entertainment purposes and not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs [email protected]

Illustration by Brad Gibson.

This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue below, and pick up your copy every week.