This article is a series of tips for closeted members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly minors with guardians they are unable to safely come out to.
Tip #1: Watch what you send people
This is a relatively common piece of advice, but it’s especially important if you have guardians that enjoy going through your phone.
While nearly any message can be deleted, many mobile providers allow people to view deleted messages via their website. I recommend using apps such as Discord, Instagram, or Snapchat to communicate, since deleting messages there is extremely easy and somewhat untraceable.
(Note: If your guardian has installed spyware on your devices, then this will likely not work. You should avoid discussing your sexuality and/or gender online when possible.)
Tip #2: Watch what you post
This is yet another common – but very important – tip. If your guardians go through your social media in any way, then you should avoid posting anything relating to your sexuality/gender. You can create alternate accounts, but make sure you log back into the account your guardian is aware of whenever you’re not online, just in case.
On any secret account, always consider avoiding anything that can easily relate back to you (i.e. your name, your phone number, your location, pictures of you or your friends, etc.) so that there is absolutely no chance of your guardian finding out it’s your account – this may seem a little overboard, but it’s definitely going to be safer.
Tip #3: Avoid buying noticeable pride merch
While it is tempting to buy a pride flag, it isn’t the best idea. You can hide smaller merch, such as pins or patches, but it might not be the best idea if your guardians come into your room a lot.
There are more subtle pieces of merch you can buy (such as a painting that incorporates all the colors of your flag) so you still have safe options! If you can’t resist the urge to buy more blatant merch, make sure you have a good hiding spot ready.
(Note: If you plan to get your merch via mail, make sure you beat your guardians to the mailbox, or even have someone else who will let you use their address to be delivered there!)
Tip #4: Keep relationships on the down-low
If your relationship can’t pass as a straight romance, keep it on the down-low. Make sure your partner is aware that you are still in the closet; if you’re only in the closet with certain people, specify who. Again, make sure you filter what you message them and be aware of the pictures you take (and post!).
If you want to go on a date, you can say you’re going out with friends or to study. Be careful with this part – your excuse shouldn’t sound like odd behavior for you (ex: if you tend to avoid group outings at all costs, you probably shouldn’t say you’re going out with friends if you think your guardians will look into it).
(Note: Some people make up a code with their partner, so that could be fun!)
Tip #5: The closet doesn’t have to be for everyone
While you may not be able to come out to your parents, don’t be scared to come out to your friends! You can even come out to teachers if you want. Unless you know someone is homophobic, in which case, you might want to wait a bit longer. There are plenty of online safe spaces you can join too!
(Note: If you choose to come out to a teacher, make sure you tell them that you are unable to come out to your guardians. If you are trans, ask them to only use your deadname/assigned at birth pronouns when speaking with your guardians.)
Tip #6: Avoid political conversations
While some guardians might not read between the lines, others will. If you do ever participate in a political conversation with your guardians, filter yourself. No matter how angry their words or opinions may make you, your safety is so much more important than correcting their ignorance.
If they back you into a corner where you have to say something political, agree with them. If you say something that has stirred a political argument, it may be safest to just agree with them so they stop talking about it. If you really just can’t agree with them, even as a lie, find a way to talk around agreeing with them.
Tip #7: Have a backup plan
There is always that small chance that you will be outed against your will. Even if you don’t think it will ever happen, it’s better to be safe than sorry. While you don’t necessarily need to have a suitcase ready to go at all times, having a bag with the necessities is a good idea. If you have a friend that’s already told you that you can stay with them should something ever happen, then your “go-bag” might not need to have much.
Generally, your go-bag should always have a charger, a change of clothes, water, food, and some cash if you have it. If you don’t want to carry it around everywhere, you should keep it in a spot where you can quickly grab it if needed.
(Note: Personally, my go bag is just my school backpack, since I have it with me all the time. This can be pretty heavy for some people, so an easy alternative can be a bag that’s in your room that you never use, so nobody would ever suspect you have a “getaway kit” inside of it.)
Tip #8: Remember you are loved
As simple as this tip is, it is often the most difficult for people to remember. No matter what happens, be aware that there is an entire community of people across the globe that love you, no matter what anybody says.
Whatever label you think suits you best at the time, we will always love you. Even if you change labels 37 times or if someone has told you that you’ll never be “gay enough” to be a part of this massive community, we accept you. We don’t care how many partners you’ve had or how many names you’ve jumped through or how bad you may think you are, we love you.
Hopefully, these tips work for someone out there in the world. This isn’t every bit of advice out there, but it may be a start for anyone who feels lost at the moment.
Now remember: you are loved, you are not broken, and try to stay safe out there.