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October 11th marks the 28th annual National Coming Out Day–a day to celebrate pride and to recognize that being true to yourself can be genuinely challenging, even when your mom says she knew all along.
But coming out wasn’t always as difficult as it is now. Three decades ago, LGBTQ people just had to fight for visibility, acceptance, and validity. With the merciless abundance of anonymous judgement, damning immortality and epic clapbacks, today’s queer community is burdened with the arduous struggle for attention on multiple platforms. Here’s what you need to know to come out on *gulp* social media.
Be comfortable with the platform
Social media is fluid and ever-changing, which can make choosing your platform for coming out hard. Do not feel pressured to come out via an Instagram story if you’re still confused by its interface. Use the app that you know well enough to discreetly navigate while at the family dinner table. The most fundamental part of the irreversible reveal of your marginalized sexual orientation is your personal comfort with available filters.
DM a friend
When you’re diving into public outhood, it’s helpful to have somebody already on your side. No longer must you manufacture one-on-one alone time with your bestie confidante to spill your rainbow beans. Instead, you can intimately share the private details of your sexual orientation with a trusted friend by shooting him or her a direct message that may or may not get read.
Find the right time
If you’re going to bare your identity to the world, you certainly want to be sure people will actually see it, right? Know that Facebook engagement peaks from 1-4 pm on weekdays. People retweet like rabbits at lunchtime. And you can forget about all plans to come out with LinkedIn on a Friday!
Additionally, be careful to select a time when your news is the biggest news in order to gain new followers. Don’t come out in the wake of a large-scale tragedy, disaster, or football game. In the end, you’ll find you actually have very limited options for mass exposure, which will make it easier to decide when it feels right to come out.
The wordier, the better
If there’s one universal truth about social media, it’s that everybody reads everything on their feed. There are so many ways to verbalize your sexuality, so undo all preconceived limits and ramble though at least six of them.
Show and tell
Add a visual aid to your outing to make it feel easier! GIFs, memes or videos can help powerfully express delicate emotions that one perhaps cannot put into simple words. Like the feeling of a cat cautiously slapping a zucchini. Or go for the gold by posting your own YouTube video. If you can wring enough melodrama out of your viral outing, you could even start seeing some hard cash! Welcome to the business of coming out of the closet.
Wait for a reaction
Your followers won’t all react immediately, and that’s OK. “Likes,” “loves” and “wows” take time to accumulate, but you must trust that they will. In extreme cases, some people won’t even react to your announcement for a whole three hours. Be patient, and remember that others may be on an airplane or swimming at the time that you post.
Succumb to outside pressure
Everybody is doing it lately, and they set great examples—especially the successful, conventionally attractive, white male celebrities who have dominated all social media platforms upon coming out. These men bravely came out with the added pressure of having a large fan base to appease, distinguished Hollywood roles to play, and Olympic medals to polish. If these guys can successfully come out in 2016 on scary social media, so can you!