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Coming straight from the United States in the 1960s, the term coming out is actually a contraction of "come out the closet" which literally means "to come out of the closet". The closet is the place where we hide, where we hide, where we take refuge. Yet the history of coming out shows that the phrase, rooted in the gay community, has not always had exactly this meaning.

This closet, which allows you to protect yourself from prying eyes, is also the one in which you suffocate. The need to get out of it, to assume not to correspond to the heterocentric norm is often confronted with other parameters: the violence that a homophobic entourage can suffer, the consequences at work, the financial dependence on transphobic parents. , etc.

While coming out can generally define the open disclosure of a personal characteristic hitherto kept secret, it remains deeply connected with gay, lesbian, non-binary, bisexual, transgender people, etc.

In gay culture, this is a near-mandatory step in asserting oneself in a society shaped around heterosexual norms. A person designated as in defines himself as homosexual, transgender, non-binary or asexual, but does not announce it or live it openly for fear of rejection, discrimination or even persecution. Conversely, an out person will not hide their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Coming out [internal link to the pillar page on the terms "Coming out" in the text] is therefore to go from one state to another.

Beyond translating, asking "what is coming out" means addressing the issue of the visibility of LGBTQ + and all people belonging to sexual minorities.

A clickable bullet point table of contents of the article's H2

  1. Coming-out: definition and history
  2. Sexual orientation and coming-out
  3. Being transgender or transexual and coming out
  4. Announce your non-binarity

Coming-out: definition and history

Coming-out the closet, which is shortened to "coming-out", is today the common expression to refer to someone who openly announces their sexual orientation or transidentity.

Initially borrowed ironically from the world of young girls of good family who entered the world on the occasion of the debutants' ball, according to the expression "come out into society", the term has evolved.

In the 60s, and probably in connection with the English expression "skeleton in the closet", which means something that one wants to keep silent, to hide; The term is changing in meaning in the gay community.

It changes direction to no longer designate entry into the gay world, but the revelation to the world of a secret hitherto kept hidden. This is one of the points that George Chauncey brilliantly explains in this interview. The author, who has studied the history of gay places and homosexual movements in New York, provides an update on the progress of his research and his thoughts, in particular with regard to semantics.

Even today, the most commonly adopted definition of coming-out is the one chosen by Larousse: "a person's disclosure of their homosexuality". Not the entry into the gay world, but a revelation, an unveiling by announcement.

Sexual orientation and coming-out

Even though we often talk about coming out in the singular, it is obvious to the people concerned that they will experience many of them. Within the circle of friends, with parents, sometimes in the professional world, during new meetings, etc.

Although coming out has primarily concerned gay men, the lesbian community and bisexual women and men are also strongly confronted with this powerful and symbolic moment. Whatever the sexual orientation, to affirm it openly and to assume it [internal link to the level 1 B page on the terms "to affirm it openly and to assume it"] confronts particular problems such as:

  • Self-acceptance;
  • The announcement or not to those around him;
  • Fear of judgment and rejection;
  • The reaction to prejudices and discrimination;
  • The need to find the place where you can be yourself.

However, a lesbian coming out [internal link to the level 3 page B on the term “lesbian coming out” in the text] does not encounter exactly the same situations and problems as a gay, quite simply because everyone does not face the same prejudices.


To be accompanied personally to assume his homosexuality in all serenity [CTA accompanying coming-out]

Being transgender or transexual and coming out

As with coming-out related to sexual orientation, there is no guide to achieving the perfect trans coming-out [internal link to page C level 3 on the term “trans coming-out” in the text ]. This moment, or rather these moments, will be neither all white nor all black. There will be positive, negative, questions and sometimes nice surprises too.

What is certain is that trans rights are gradually progressing in France.

After a conviction in 1992 by the European Commission of Human Rights for non-respect for private life, France extended the right to gender reassignment to civil status. Until then, a transgender or transexual man or woman had to systematically justify themselves on the difference between their appearance and the sex assigned legally on their identity papers.

Even if it is now fully legal in France to live your transidentity openly, the road to openly embracing it remains long and the fight against discrimination a permanent fight. Being surrounded by caring people, who try to understand what the transgender or transsexual person is going through remains essential.Loneliness, silence and denial do not allow you to achieve a state of well-being in your life. As with all LGBT + issues, the concepts of acceptance and exclusion, but also education, are at the heart of the matter.

Announce your non-binarity

Still poorly understood by many, non-binarity refers to people whose gender identity is neither feminine nor masculine. It depends on how the affected person feels and has nothing to do with their sexual orientation.

In reality, it is sometimes even at each new meeting that they have to name and explain their non-binarity. This element of education, which can sometimes be seen as justification, adds an extra burden on the shoulders of those concerned. Not talking about it would therefore be much easier at the time.

However, for self-acceptance, coming out when you are non-binary is a great relief. The use of neutral pronouns, feminine or masculine chords depending on the choice of the person concerned, sometimes the replacement of the dead-name (the first name given at birth that no longer corresponds to the gender identity): these are elements of everyday life which, accepted by the close entourage, allow a better acceptance and quality of life for a non-binary person.

Even if there is no guide to coming out [internal link to the pillar page on the terms “a guide to coming out” in the text] which allows to give a universal definition and a mode of reproducible job, the peaceful acceptance of his homosexuality, his bisexuality, his non-binarity or his transidentity is the essential condition to put all the chances on his side. There is nothing like being surrounded by people who understand and accept us to achieve this.

CTA: Towards coming-out training


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