For many in the LGBTQIA+ community, coming out is often a long, tedious process that first starts with being honest with yourself, then slowly coming out to the people around you.
In India particularly, it is a different ballgame altogether. The challenges here are different – from rampant discrimnation to a lack of literature, to laws that fail to protect the community.
Coming out, then, is a major decision and a difficult process at any point in your life, more so when you choose to do it a lot later.
Coming out is a personal decision and a an intimate one at that. Whether you come out at 16 or 60, you deserve to come out when you are comfortable and on your own time.
Reports tell us that a lot more people are now coming out at younger ages (primarily because of more information and awareness), many in the community prefer to come out when they are much older or financially independent. This comes with its own unique set of challenges.
Parental Pressure to Get Married
It is a common phenomenon in India – you reach a certain age and your parents start to pressure you into getting married.
It’s no surprise then that some folks feel compelled to come out to their parents to ward off this pressure. This is a significant source of stress for many in the community. You may not be ready to come out, and yet you have to.
Coming out to ward off the pressure to get married also sometimes results in more pressure to get married and forceful marriages. It is important to consider all outcomes when deciding to come out.
Those in a later stage of their life also need to consider workplace inclusivity. While we know things are changing, and many workplaces are now inclusive of the community and have specific policies against discrimantaion, it can still be a task sometimes.
When you are a working individual and in your late twenties, thirties, or even forties, your workplace plays a significant role in your life. If your workplace is not inclusive then navigating through the coming out journey can be challenging.
Coming out at any age can disrupt some familial relationships because of inacceptance and a lack of awareness. This is more so true for those coming out later in life. Some individuals do so after they have had heterosexual marriages, some do it after they have retired from work.
There is a tendency for familial relationships to fall apart when an individual comes out, and when you do that later in life, it is important to gauge which relationships you would like to maintain come what may.
Upside to Coming out Later in Life
When you come out later in life, you are in a better place financially and emotionally to handle some of the downsides. You do not rely on parents or guardians for financial support, and therefore you can make your own decisions.
You are also a lot more self-aware and emotionally developed as compared to when you were an adolescent. You now care less about what people think and what society expects of you.
Stronger Social Support
Because of changing times, people now are getting more and more aware of the queer community. There are new papers and reports coming out regularly, new resources to help the community are being set up, and people are getting more inclusive.
You have a stronger social support now than you did say a decade ago, when it wasn’t in your best interest to come out.
Compared to adolescents and younger adults, those who come out later in life are more resilient to drastic changes and have higher levels of weelbeing. Not only that, there is also low levels of minority stressors at this stage in life (like discrimiantion, harassment, rejection).
Coming out at any point of time is a difficult decision. No matter what your age is, you have the right to come out when and if you feel comfortable. You have the right to come out on your own terms and in a way that best suits your mental health.