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Craig Cassey

Views & Voices

Should I Come Out on Facebook?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

“(it) seem(s) easiest, but also… attention seeking.”

“Its the person’s life the opinion of others should not matter… if coming out on a social network is what they want to do then fine.”

“(it’s) completely disingenuous to the gravity of coming out.”

These are just a few answers to the question a friend posed to me two weeks ago: “Should I come out on Facebook?”

I stand by my initial response: it depends on why and how you do it, but overall it can be a worthwhile means of coming out. It gives you a sense of control, an ability to present the information in a premeditated way, and a large audience to speak to. So I say, if done appropriately, why not?

Nevertheless, I sought others’ opinions, by asking my Facebook friends and twitter followers, since my coming out experience was devoid of Facebook interactions (aside from ‘liking’ Lady Gaga, Robyn, and HGTV on Facebook – three ‘blatantly obvious’ signs I was a homo).

Their answers, especially my gay friends,’ surprised me.

The major trends are telling. Of those who responded, most straight girls support the notion of being out and coming out on Facebook. While (to my astonishment) most gay males don’t support coming out on Facebook, straight guys adamantly support the idea of doing “whatever the hell you want.”

This begs the question: isn’t the notion of coming out simultaneously to 1000+ of your acquaintances, friends, family members, and peers in a way that you can tailor and control an attractive option?

Some, like myself, feel this way, but others perceive it as disingenuous and attention-seeking, even questioning if cowardice motivates the desire to use Facebook as a coming out aide.

If this is the case however, even I disapprove. Once again it comes down to the reason you are coming out, and the way you do it.

Consider these scenarios:

  • You’re outing yourself on Facebook to spite your parents.

    Think twice before you act. Coming out is memorable, but something many of us cherish for both the bad experiences as well as the good. Ask yourself if you are really willing to sacrifice a more memorable and meaningful coming out just to get back at your (homophobic?) parents or community.

  • You are confident in your sexuality, you have told your close friends/family already, and you want everyone to know.

    Go for it. Would I recommend posting “I’m a homo!”? No.

    I hope that you will articulate your particular understanding of what being gay means to you. Explain why you are coming out, why you choose to do so in such a visible fashion, and give them a clue to the response you desire: whether it’s to ask you any questions privately, if you want there support in the upcoming days, or if you want them to treat you as if nothing changed (which may never happen, and that’s okay.)

    Recognize it, accept it, and learn to enjoy it.

  • You want to come out online to avoid conflict.

    Understand that conflict will arise no matter what you do. Accept it. Prepare to deal with it. Surround yourself with people who will pick you up if and when you realize you can’t do it yourself. And remember that conflict isn’t a bad thing. The friction that conflict creates is just the force that motivates some to change, to grow, to accept.

    Looking ahead – even into tomorrow or next week, to see what issues may arise, can help give you some perspective on your coming out strategy. When people find out they will be curious and they will have questions. Consider this as an opportunity to spread some awareness. Be honest in your responses and wield it as a chance to move forward, both for yourself and your community.

  • You want to come out online to better control the situation.

    Coming out rarely goes as planned and while you can hope to orchestrate every aspect of it (I surely tried), sometimes the fun can be in the the spontaneity of it. Be willing to use facebook as much as you want.

    Draft your statuses, prepare your responses, even give some friends the heads-up so they can help you prepare, but understand that you can’t control everything after you click ‘post’. Let that desire go. It will drive you crazy, and in my experience you’ll be better off just going with the flow. Providing a first-hand account of what you’re doing and how you feel seems to help, but don’t expect to micromanage every aspect of your coming out.

  • You only want specific ‘friends’ to know.

    In case you are friends with a large population involving people you don’t want to clue into your sexuality, coming out on Facebook may require more work. Your options span from altering your privacy settings for those ‘friends’ you don’t want to receive your coming out message, to deleting them as friends entirely.

    Another option is the change your “interested in” profile and delete the information from your news feed. This allows everyone the chance to see your sexuality but if they don’t go digging for that information, they will never know. Often times, family members will overlook this aspect of your profile if they have no reason to question it previously.

The reader who asked me this question came out on Facebook, despite others’ concerns. His Facebook page shows no signs of bullying. He appears to be accepted, and is happy with his choice.

Is it right for everyone? Certainly not. But it was for him, and though perilous, it’s an option worth considering.

Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

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40 more reader comments:

  1. if your not scared to let people know !!

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:08pm
  2. thats how i came out to my family that i dont see much… it was a tough decision but im glad i did it

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:08pm
  3. If I had had more of a support system while in my first year of college, I probably would not have come out when I did. I told my father through email, and he disowned me. I had no where to go the summer after my first year, so I had to stay with a friend.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:10pm
  4. if you want, if thats what you think is the best then why not, everyone has different ways to come out, some are better than others, we all get different reactions from everyone and the wa we do it. so i say do what makes you comfortable

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:11pm
  5. If you are comfortable with the fact of knowing you will gain a lot of friends because they have known all along and comfortable with knowing that you will lose a lot of friends because they had no clue, then yes but be ready for what comes after.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:11pm
  6. Another thing to conciser is the line of work you’re in or want to get into. More and more businesses are checking facebook these days and it still isn’t illegal in many states here in the USA to fire someone or not hire them based on sexual orientation, as far as I understand it. Depending on where you work or want to work, it may be best to use alternate means.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:11pm
  7. that’s right and you have no reason in the world to be scared let people know show it and enjoy it never worry about it

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:12pm
  8. I was out before Facebook, but now that my nieces and nephews are getting old enough to have accounts, they’re finding out as they friend me. So far so good. No awkward conversations. Apparently they were raised right. :-)

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:12pm
  9. Sorry about that fox. I hope your father comes around.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:12pm
  10. You only do this IF you have a support system in place. Remember, telling FB means that everyone sees it at the same time – do you have people you need to tell first? If you are linked to any co-workers – are you prepared for you co-workers (and eventually the clients – things move fast) to know? I am out and proud. Almost every (99%) of my FB community has supported me. I came out before FB (I am old). Just be thoughtful about what is best for you and be sure you have support!

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:13pm
  11. Coming out over Facebook is like telling your boyfriend/girlfriend that you want to break up with them…and that you have been wanting to ever since y’all have dated…IT’S NOT CLASSY NOR DOES IT SHOW RESPECT TO YOUR FRIENDS/FAMILY WHO DESERVE TO HEAR IT FROM YOUR MOUTH PERSONALLY!!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:14pm
  12. No. It’s impersonal and a cop-out.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:15pm
  13. Please don’t judge people – irrespective of their method of coming out. It is so difficult. No matter how or when you do it – you have my support.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:18pm
  14. I think Kat is correct. With family that you don’t see often coming out online is not a “bad” way to do it. Anyone who reads my page knows what I care about. Not hiding anything, except whether i am pitcher or catcher…

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:19pm
  15. It is so difficult for me to make a judgement on this because when I came of age, computers just beeped and ran reel to reel things or punch cards

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:24pm
  16. I disagree that it’s not classy. This is 2012, not 1950. Facebook, twitter, email are the way to do things now. That said, I posted this on the main page, please be kind and gentle. I’ll even gladly talk to people in private if they wish.

    I came out to my parent 3 times (my stepdad simply wouldn’t care and would just avoid me anyway.) but now I’m about to do it on facebook. One of the biggest challenges, for me, is do I come out as transgender or gay. I do like men but..I don’t know how to put it..when I roleplay in games, it’s as a girl, when I roleplay my fursona (don’t judge, please I would like to think that this is inclusive) it used to be as a female..but my feelings are conflicted. I think gay is best because it’s true; but then I have my doubts.

    As for coming out on facebook, yes, I’m going to. I want all of my friends and family to know so they can choose to give me up or not. If they choose to give me up, they weren’t family or friends to begin with.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:25pm
  17. Never live any part of your life as a lie… Come out everywhere, make friends, build a network… Be yourself…. :o)

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:25pm
  18. only if you are in a position that no matter what, you have support. shit happens, try to find a safety net in case your rope breaks…

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:26pm
  19. I think everybody already knows.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:27pm
  20. I CAN’T COME OUT ON FACEBOOK! THEY DON’T ALLOW MULTIPLE GENDERS!

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:28pm
  21. Why do you have to “come out” to anyone? You love who you love. No one even your family should have a say in that. Be strong, take a deep breath and enjoy your life.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:31pm
  22. thanks for the different views. im in process of coming out but how do u word it on fb?

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:33pm
  23. i didnt come out on fb…. but i am out.. there are still alot of haters out there…… some in my own family… some old school chums .. a few at my job too… but for the most part people are ok with it…….but i do not recommend coming out on any site that has ur family and friends connected before u are ready for to truly let ur family and friends know… because if u are not sure of how someone will react u can find urself totally alone in this world…… my ex feared she would be disowned since they already disowned one family member…..

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:38pm
  24. I am already out here. But, I have my marital status as “Widowed.” Some women don’t read all of my info before they ask me to be their boyfriend. I don’t brag about being gay in my non-cyber life; but, my VA health records do state that I am gay. And, that’s because I told the doctor that I was and that was the reason I wanted to take an HIV antibodies test which was negative.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:38pm
  25. I tried to come out at 15-long sad story that no one wants to hear- so I finally came out at 34-after 15 yrs “trying to be normal”. The first few years I was totally overboard on being out. Times have changed so much in the last 20 yrs-and so much in the last few years- I say do what your heart tells you. Coming out was the best thing for my life. It is so different for everyone…for each generation…each part of the country…I am very happy now-have a wife I adore and that adores me. My adult children are happy for me and all of my family have been supportive because your first love doesn’t always work out…and I have had heartbreak. Best of luck-and if anyone needs support please feel free to friend me.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:43pm
  26. I’ve been out since before many of you were born!!!

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:44pm
  27. Ya its your life.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:45pm
  28. After I told my parents and a few friends face to face, I came out on facebook. Not for attention, just to let people know that I was tired of hiding the real me and if they had any questions, they were answered then.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:51pm
  29. I am already out and about….stay true to yourself and embrace those who stay true to you no matter who you are and who you love.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:53pm
  30. I know some on Facebook!!!

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:59pm
  31. For me I found coming out on FB was the simplest way to tell many people all at once. I did choose to tell very close family first. I had many friends inbox me and I gladly answer there questions. Over all it was a great decision for me and I’ve never regretted it. Best of luck :)

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 6:05pm
  32. To me its no different then breaking up with someone over text. Be proud of YOU!

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 6:58pm
  33. One should come out where and when one feels the time is right…and, from my experience, by the time a person comes out, its no secret anymore to anyone who knows that person. That was true in my case…my coming out was for me, not to let anyone know I was gay. They pretty much had known for quite some time and were respecting my privacy by not asking.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 7:15pm
  34. Only if you want to. It is your choice of how and when.

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 7:29pm
  35. I did

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 8:23pm
  36. u will be suprized how my people we r out here try us u can all get rid of face book u r usely the one who conral ur page

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 9:28pm
  37. At least thats been ok my people r here to

    Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 9:29pm
  38. Be Yourself. That’s the important thing.

    Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 7:32am
  39. No…you may attract attention from unwanted people

    Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 9:28am
  40. yes of course and if you don’t want certime people not to see there are settings for that.

    Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 1:57pm