Coming out is always an interesting topic to discuss, mostly because there’s such a wide range of stories and feelings people have about the way they came out or want to come out. Some people choose to do it quickly and nonchalantly while others work up the courage and sit down to have a talk with their loved ones. Sometimes there are tears and other times there is laughter. For some people, it gave them a chance to start fresh and live their truth while others went on with their everyday lives, unfazed. And so for the people who have yet to come out, the task is very daunting because there’s no guidebook on exactly how to do it or how it should go. Trust me, I know, I tried to look for one. But while not having guidelines to help with the coming out process might scare some, it gives other people a lot of freedom to decide how and when to come out–that is if they decide to even come out at all.

I remember a friend of mine told me that she wanted to come out to her parents but she didn’t want to do it unless she had “proof” that she’s a lesbian (a.k.a. a girlfriend). I didn’t try to dissuade her from her plan or make her come out earlier, but I do remember thinking how silly it was to feel as though she needed proof in order to come out. I’m only going to say this once so listen closely: If you identify as L,G,B,T,Q, I and/or A then you are L,G,B,T,Q, I and/or A and you don’t need to prove it to anyone. Truthfully, you don’t even need to tell anyone if you don’t want to (although it may get a little hard to hide it sometimes, especially if you mysteriously begin planning a wedding with your “roommate”). Your loved ones should feel privileged, not entitled, that you are coming out to them and sharing an intimate part of your life with them.

As I delved into my friend’s “proof” theory, I began to think about myself and all the other fledgling bisexuals and pansexuals out there and I thought: Is it still okay to come out, even if you’re in a hetero relationship? After some long, hard consideration I personally decided that the answer is yes! Yep! Of course! You betcha! In case you weren’t paying attention earlier, coming out is your choice (as long as you’re not involuntarily outed) and you get to decide when and how it will happen. So even if you’re a bisexual man dating a woman or vice versa you can still scream that you’re a bisexual from the rooftops. What you can’t do, however, is expect everyone to immediately be understanding. Some of your loved ones may be confused, angry, or upset. They may ask inappropriate questions or say things they don’t mean. They might even try to ignore it since you’re dating someone of the opposite sex. But none of this should make you feel bad about letting others know that you are who you are. The person you’re dating might even question why you want to come out if you’re in a hetero relationship. In which case, you can explain to them that no matter whom you’re dating, you identify as bisexual or pansexual and you want that to be known. And if they love you the way you are then they’ll accept that answer.

Coming out is hard; it just is. But if you decide to come out you don’t need proof and you don’t need to be in a homosexual relationship (you don’t need to be in any relationship really). You just need to be yourself and to tell others that you are who you are and they can leave it or love it, but that you hope they’ll love it because you do.