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19 Little Ways To Take Care Of Yourself If You’re Not Out

Because self-care is extra important when you can't or don't want to come out.

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It can be hard when you aren't able to share your sexuality or gender identity with everyone in your life, so finding small ways to take care of yourself can make life a little easier.

Sometimes you're all the way closeted; sometimes you're out to some people and not others; and for many people, you have to keep coming out in some way or another for most of your life. To help deal, we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community how they take care of their mental health as an LGBT person in the closet. Here are little things you can do — no matter what being in the closet looks like to you.

1. Escape to fictional worlds with plenty of representation.

Simon & Schuster, Dutton Books

"Fantasy was my everything. Reading books that had gay characters, writing stories (original AND fanfiction) with LGBT content, and imagining the way things would be once I was strong enough to come out, especially the promise of college and meeting people like me."

—Jaimie Schock, Facebook

Here are 26 books with LGBTQ characters you won't be able to put down.

2. Wear ~subtle queer things~ that people like you will recognize — but other people probably won't.

hodderdesigns / Via etsy.com

"If you can get away with it, it’s super fun to wear/display queer-coded things that The Straights don’t catch, but might stand out to other queer and trans folks and give you a touching, if silent, connection throughout the day. For example, I’m on the hunt for some trans flag earrings that I can wear to work. It really helps to show my pride in little ways like that."

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3. Say it out loud to yourself when you know people won't hear you.

youtube.com / Via mtvstyle.tumblr.com

"A thing that I do sometimes when I’m in my house or at a family gathering is just whisper, 'I’m gay' to myself when I know nobody will hear me. It helps me relieve some stress a little bit because it FEELS like I’m coming out, but I’m not, so the danger is gone and only the freeing feeling of being myself is left."

gxlinda

4. Get a personal tattoo only you will see or understand the meaning of.

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"Every time I look at it, I feel more grounded. I remember that yes, my identity is valid and a part of me."

—Marie Denise Schreiber, Facebook

5. If it's appropriate, take part in queer spaces as an "ally."

Netflix

"When I was deep in the closet, I knew I wanted to find a community, but even the idea of going to the gay-straight alliance at my school was really intimidating just in case people assumed I was gay because of it. I wound up rounding up a few of my straight friends to come to the first meeting with me. We all said we were allies. Being around other queer people, even if they didn't know I was one of them, gave me an invaluable sense of community and safety.

"That said, make sure you only do this in groups that are open to allies! If you're going to enter queer spaces pretending to be straight, people will think you're straight! You have to be respectful and not make anyone uncomfortable."

—Anonymous, submitted via email

6. Limit time around people in your life who don't support the LGBT community.

instagram.com / Via Twitter: @GreysThetalk

"I try to avoid my unsupportive relatives and cut people out of my life who don’t support LGBT+ for the sake of my mental health. By surrounding myself with positive people who do know my identity, it is easier to be self confident around family members who don’t know."

zoeuno101

7. Write everything down.

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"Write the answers to questions and statements you really would love to give, your dreams and hopes, everything dark and twisted, crushes and horror and secret kisses. Everything. Find a notebook that can be your substitute friend/relative and let it know everything until you have someone more person-like that gets that spot."

—Erika Drewke, Facebook

8. Check out an online forum like Trevor Space.

Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed News / Via buzzfeed.com

"When I finally came to accept myself during my freshman year of high school, I found Trevor Space. It's a social site where only LGBT+ youth can post on forums that range from light jokes to more serious topics like homophobic families. You can even private message other members. I met some amazing friends on Trevor Space who definitely helped me come out to my older sister later that year. And for that, I'm incredibly thankful for the Trevor Project."

—Ale Aguilera, Facebook

9. "Come out" in tiny safe ways that might relieve some tension you're feeling.

Will Varner for BuzzFeed Comics / Via Facebook: BuzzFeedLGBT

"Tell your dog you're gay. Leave a sticky note in a public restroom. Give your secret to someone else, anyone else."

—Mackenzie Rose Hawk, Facebook

10. Find a therapist who knows LGBT issues.

instagram.com

"I found a therapist in my school that really helped me out whose identity intersected with mine in more ways than I could imagine. Although he wasn't the reason I came out — me being in a relationship with an amazing girl was — he helped me way more than I could imagine or do by myself at that moment in life."

—Yasmine Montes De Oca, Facebook

11. Be honest with yourself about your thoughts and feelings, even if you can't share them with anyone else.

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"The most important thing for me was not allowing myself to stifle the richness of my inner world. It was destructive when I was trying to convince myself not to have crushes on women and not to notice hot women. Any time it inevitably happened, I would chastise myself and get depressed. It was very freeing to realize that no one needs to know what’s going on in my head; there’s no such thing as telepaths. As long as I wasn’t visibly ogling at women’s asses, I could accept in myself my bisexuality and allow myself the freedom to recognize my attractions internally without having to come out."

NerdCafe

14. Celebrate your other features so you don't accidentally start defining yourself by what you're keeping secret.

FOX / Via buzzfeed.com

"I used to remind myself being gay wasn’t my only feature. Gender and orientation don’t make you who you are. You could be a funny intellectual who loves to read and write, and happens to like the same sex. Don’t let yourself be defined by what you fear will be the only part of you people see or care about — there’s more to you than that."

amf102

15. Have a group text with your LGBT friends where you can rant and rave in private.

ABC / Via sararamirez.co.vu

"I make sure to spend as much time as possible — even if it is only a little time between work and other obligations — to hang with my queer and trans friends to whom I am out. We also have a group chat where we can vent about whatever queerphobic/transphobic struggles are happening in everyday life, which is helpful and relieving."

tssa3

16. Carve out alone time to relax and ground yourself.

@hrh_prince_indy / Via instagram.com

"I spent a lot of time sitting in my room thinking about life and hanging out with my dog. Maybe sitting around your house isn’t a good option for you, but you should still try to schedule some time where you can be by yourself in a safe, calming environment that’s familiar to you and where you can think. I recommend parks and libraries because they’re quiet. Honestly, my coping advice is relax, find yourself, and go from there."

DrDoctorson

17. Pour your feelings into a creative outlet that can express what you can't say.

FOX / Via sytycd-gifs.tumblr.com

"I still haven’t come out. Writing music, even if it sounds shitty, helps me out a lot. If I like a girl and I can’t talk about it to someone important to me, I can write my feelings down in the form of a song at least. I’ll make sure I love the tune and that my lyrics are honest. Then I record it and when I listen to it I think, This is real, this is valid, this is beautiful. It makes coming to terms with my sexuality much easier."

rachelj412c43020

"I threw myself into ballet. Sure, my coming-out was NBD, but I was scared to death of not being accepted, so I danced like wild."

—Rebekah Marie Byrd, Facebook

18. If it helps, concentrate on the plus side of being in the closet.

maxwellbarrett.tumblr.com

"Sometimes being in the closet can be comforting. Sure, it can feel like you’re holding in a huge secret, but it’s safe there. People still look at you the same every day, and think nothing more or less of you. Enjoy it while you’re in it, because some people won’t accept you once you come out."

forevermeraki

19. Take your time, be kind to yourself, and remember your health, safety, and happiness are most important.

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"Think about it, but don’t let it rule your life. Self-acceptance if key. Don’t stress over coming out of the closet."

marissar43ce002c8

Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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