The first step in the coming out process is that of moving towards a recognition and acceptance of one's gayness. Some people become aware of their lesbianism or gayness early in life. Others do not reach that awareness for a long time because of the many social pressures which demand heterosexual conformity. Still others find that they are unable to relate to our society's stereotypes of what gay people are like. Many of us have assumed for a long while that we could not possible be gay because we did not conform to some popular stereotype. It is no wonder that gay people go through periods of being uncertain about who they really are and about how to integrate their affectionate feelings into their lives.
The process of recognizing and accepting one's gayness can be a very lonely experience. But increasingly we have been able to accept our feelings and our gay or lesbian identities more readily. We can see our sexuality as a positive and joyful part of our lives. We can see the injustice of the discrimination, fear, and oppression which are a part of our day-to-day experience. We can see the immorality in failing to tell young people the truth and the facts about homosexuality. If, like many people who are heterosexual, we have problems in our lives, we can seek professional help to deal with those problems rather than being told that we need to change our sexual orientation.
Coming to have positive feelings about one's homosexuality is an essential part of the coming out process. Until one feels good about being gay, it makes little sense to share the fact of one's sexual orientation with others -- unless they are clearly friends or helping professionals who are prepared to help you towards greater self- acceptance. The person who says to a parent, friend, or employer: "I have something horrible I need to tell you about myself" is not "coming out". She or he is seeking pity or revealing self-hatred.