The Challenges of Coming Out in Your 30s and 40s
National Coming Out Day has been observed since 1988, and it still stands as a day of liberation and celebration for millions of people each year. But if you are in your 30s or 40s, you might worry that you’re too old to come out as gay, lesbian or another sexual orientation. While it may feel like coming out young is the norm, there are over 3 million Americans over 50 who identify as LGBTQ, so you are not alone.
At Caring Heart Counseling, we have therapists experienced in working with LGBTQ clients who can help you navigate the unique struggles and challenges you face, including coming out in your 30s and 40s.
Fears About Coming Out Later in Life
The biggest fear most clients in their 30s and 40s have is the impact they’ll have on their loved ones. You may have children, close friends or a family who has a specific image of you that you fear will be shattered if they know your sexual orientation. You could also feel torn between the straight life you’ve led, even if people just assumed it, and the gay world that feels foreign and unfamiliar.
There can be a serious amount of stress, anxiety and discomfort toward embracing oneself as LGBTQ. You may not even know if you fully identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or something else entirely. This can naturally lead to an avoidance that keeps you trapped in silence, unsure when or if it’s a good idea to be more open about your identity.
Can Counseling Help Me Come Out?
Therapists who have experience in treating LGBTQ clients can help them navigate the pros and cons of coming out. They can’t tell you when to do so, but they can help you explore the process, practice and decide who to let in on your personal life. What’s most important is figuring out what feels most comfortable and safe for you; you should never be forced to come out from societal pressure or preconceived notions. Likewise, you shouldn’t be condemned to a life that doesn’t feel genuine because you fear you’ve missed your time to come out.
There’s Never a Wrong Time to Come Out
While it’s never too late to be open about who you are and who you love, it can be daunting for someone who feels like they’ve “missed the mark.” The younger generation are so open about their sexualities and gender identities that gay, lesbian, bisexual and other LGBTQ people might feel like they’re “too old.”
You could also be in a marraige or long-term relationship with a heterosexual partner and feel guilty telling them the truth about your sexual orientation. Perhaps you’re currently single but your past relationship history has family and friends believing you’re straight. In either case, it is still 100-percent okay and acceptable for you to come out and embrace your identity.