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I believe I may be a pansexual. I still need a little bit of time to completely figure it out, but I don’t really feel like what I am sexually should matter much, if at all. As far as I know, everybody assumes I’m straight, which I guess makes sense since most people are. But the assumption still annoys me because it makes people afraid to come out. I don’t want coming out to be such a big deal. I know my parents will accept me, as one of my mom’s good friends is lesbian, and I’m sure my friends will as well. I just don’t think that it matters. Anyway when I think of coming out, all I can think of is that it will startle people. I don’t want to have to introduce myself as a pansexual, or to have people think different about me because I am.
So basically my question is, how do I tell people that I’m pansexual without making it so important? It’s just who I am, and coming out shouldn’t matter that much. Another thing I’m curious about is telling friends that I’m pansexual. When I meet someone, when is a good time to tell them?
Letter submitted by:
Hello Maddie, I’m pleased that you decided to reach out to us for advice. Sometimes its not easy opening up to others about our personal questions or struggles, so you should feel proud of yourself for having the courage to share with us. The very first thing I noticed about you from reading your letter is how intelligent you are. You already have a deep understanding about sexuality and coming out. I’m also impressed by how far you’ve already come. I agree with you, I think even though assumptions are understandable, it does make people afraid to come out because shocked or surprised reactions sometimes draws unwanted attention to the person’s sexuality. Thats a smart conclusion you pointed out, and its an unfortunate reality for many LGBT people. That unwanted attention is what kept me from coming out for a long time. I would also like to point out that you are very blessed to have supportive people around you. Many young LGBT don’t have that very important support system.
The best advice I can offer you is to follow your intuition. From reading your letter, I can tell you already have strong thoughts about how you should handle coming out, and those thoughts make a lot of sense! If you don’t feel like you should introduce yourself to people as “pansexual,” then you don’t have to, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to. Your sexuality is your business. People handle coming out in many, many different ways. For some people the process is very important to them and they feel comfortable sitting down with each person individually to tell them. Others simply like to be themselves and lead their lives normally and if the question ever comes up they simply bring it up at that time. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to come out to people, as long as it feels comfortable and safe for you. It sounds like maybe the best way to come out for you, is if someone asks about your sexuality, then be open about it but explain that you don’t think it should be a big deal because its just one aspect of who you are. Or if you feel like bringing it up to friends or family, maybe you can treat it as just another casual conversation topic. You could share the information just as you would share any other information about yourself, like if you were discovering a new band that you like, or a new tv show you want to talk about. Just be aware that even though you don’t want it to be a big deal, you will probably run into people who will want to make it a big deal. Unfortunately you can’t control that. But don’t be afraid to be vocal about how important it is to you that your sexuality is not the center of attention.
I can’t tell you the right time to tell people because that’s entirely up to you. You know yourself and the people around you best, so trust your feelings. If you’re hanging out with a friend and you have the urge to tell them, then maybe that’s the right time.
I would suggest joining TrevorSpace where you can find other people in similar circumstances as you. Its a safe and private place where you can make friends and find more answers from like-minded people. I would also suggest checking out this coming out guide from HRC. It may help your coming out process be more comfortable. I would also highly recommend finding an LGBT center near you where you can build a supportive network of people.
Remember that you are not alone, and that we are always here if you have any further questions. You are very smart and you are already on the right track. Just trust your feelings and stay true to you!
The Trevor Project