Coming out is hard no matter what situation you're in. Believe it or not, the coming out to your family or friends is not the hardest part either. The hardest part is recognizing your sexuality on your own. Coming to terms with it is different for everyone. For someone like me, who was raised in a Christian home, it's hard to realize that you are not broken. You are not damaged and you are not a sin. For someone like my best friend who was raised in an accepting family, it was difficult for her to accept herself due to society and outside pressure. Either way, it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. The main things you need to remember are as followed 1. Stay positive. Remember that there is someone in your life who will love and accept you no matter what. 2. Don't Rush It. Don't attempt to tell yourself one thing or another about yourself because you will end up hurting yourself in the long run. Patience is key. 3. Talk to someone in the community. Something that helped me was finding someone in the community that I trusted and talking to them about what I was feeling and thinking. They can't tell you exactly what to do, but they can be there for support. 4. Experiment. You could go through a stage in your life when you think you might be a part of the community, and its okay if your not. Finding out what you like and who you are is a part of life. 5. LOVE YOURSELF! This is the most important one. You cant look for love and acceptance from others if you don't love and accept yourself. This took me years to figure out and I'm still struggling with this one. Don't get frustrated if it doesn't happen right away. When you do come to terms with yourself, it feels like its time to come out right away. It's not! If you are content with staying in the closet, then go for it. When you are prepared and do feel ready then here are my best tips for that. 1. Put out some feelers. Start bringing up the LGBTQ community in your conversations with your family/friends and see how they react. If their reaction is good, then you can kind of figure out who you should come out to first. 2. Tell your closest friend/family member. The first people I told were my older sister and best friend. They were super supportive and loving. 3. Come up with a game plan for the rest of the important people of your life. Have a plan, a backup plan, and a plan for if things go terribly wrong. 4. TELL THE WORLD! When you feel that you are very ready and prepared to tell the world, go out there and tell them. It can be the best feeling in the universe. One thing that is always a problem for LGBTQ youth is the fear of getting kicked out. Speaking from personal experience, there are ways to get through it. Even though it seems like the end of the world, I knew that I would get through it. The most important thing to do if you are worried about this is come up with a game plan. Some basic steps to that are to follow 1. Talk to a close friend or family member about being able to go to their house in case of an emergency. 2. Have a bag ready. I know it sucks that you have to have a to go bag ready but when a bad situation arises packing can be hard. 3. Leave as soon as possible. If you get kicked out and you attempt to stay, it could cause your mental state to deteriorate. It sucks that you have to leave but it could save you a lot of pain. Don't worry straight people, I haven't forgotten about you. This guide doesn't exactly pertain to you, but there are some ways you can help your friends who are struggling with their identities. Here are the things that my friends did to help me. 1. Even though you don't understand what they are going through, be there for them to talk to. My friends asked me how I was every day and made sure that I was okay. 2. Let them know that you love them and support them. I don't think there was a single day where my friends didn't tell me they loved me when I was in the process of coming out. 3. Don't let their sexuality change your view of them. I know its hard when your friend comes out to you because its like there is a whole new side of your friend that you've never seen, but its still them. They are still the same friend who you met years ago, they just like the same sex now. 4. Please please please never ask if they are into you/ if you're their type. They don't want to make things awkward and that question makes everything awkward. So, now that I've told you everything that helped me in my journey to coming out, I hope I have inspired you to do some soul searching and figure out who you are. Just remember, it is different for everyone and your journey is unique and special. I love each and every one of you.