Coming out or outing oneself (a common short form of the expression "coming out of the closet") describes the voluntary or involuntary announcement of one's sexual orientation to one person, to a group of people, or to the public at large.
The term originates with the expression "coming out of the closet" (shortened to coming out) as used in the gay community from the late 1960s. In the 1990s the gay media routinely forced celebrities "out of the closet", calling the practice "outing". In usage among pedophiles, ephebophiles and other minor-attracted people, the media need not be involved.
To come out or not to come out?
Among minor-attracted people, this is an area of contention. Many feel that one's sexual orientation is a large part of one's identity, and keeping it secret is a cause of stress, shame, and often depression. Most agree that in an ideal society, one should not have to hide what he thinks of as a harmless and innate personal attribute.
Arguments against coming out
Many question the wisdom of disclosing one's attraction to minors to others. They argue that the benefits do not outweigh the risks incurred from a society rife with hysteria, and emphasize risks such as:
- The person told may disapprove strongly, and dissolve the friendship or other relation to the minor-attracted person.
- The person told, whether approving or not, may tell others who were not intended to know.
- The knowledge may be used against the minor-attracted person, either to blackmail him or to falsely accuse him of sexual crime.
- It is impossible to undo an outing, and this fact may create undesirable situations in the future as friendships change.
- A person who is known to be a minor-attracted is likely to be unemployable and therefore unable to financially support himself.
Advice on coming out
Those who argue for coming out often acknowledge these risks, but emphasize that coming out should be a long and well thought-out process. Some of the advice offered is:
- Come out only to a very select few, and only those who you have very high confidence in and who you know are open minded and reasonable. This may, and perhaps should, be one single person, at least to start with.
- "Test" the person in advance to find out what their reaction is likely to be. For instance, you can show them relevant news articles or talk carefully about known minor-attracted people or positive identities such as childlove. If this does not turn out well, abort.
- If you have young friends or otherwise deal with children, demonstrate that you behave properly and are popular with the children.
- Rehearse beforehand; pick words carefully so as not to be misunderstood.
- Come out at a time and in a situation when it feels natural.
- Keep in mind that though someone can seem accepting at first, people often change their minds or hide their true feelings. In particular, close family members may initially appear to be supportive, but could later decide to come against you in an effort to protect children.
Even minor-attracted people who consider themselves to be "out" should carefully consider just how many people really know about their sexual orientation. For example, "coming out" by posting one's real name on a message board is not the same as coming out by publicly announcing one's sexual orientation on a national television broadcast. Thus, being "out" as a pedophile for example is a matter of degrees and not a simple dichotomy.