The voluntary announcement to friends, family, or others that they are a homosexual.
This is the announcement or confirmation given that leaves no doubt in one's mind, that one is a homosexual. Usually this is done in conversation with others, such as friends, family, in a controlled setting, and at the choosing of the one making the announcement.
The concept of 'coming out' was first introduced publicly by gay rights activist Karl Heinrich Urichs in 1869. He believed that living 'in the closet' or in secret was not going to help advance the cause of Homosexual Rights in society, and he urged others, mostly older gays, to voluntarily declare their homosexuality.
Others also advocated such 'announcements' such as Poet Robert Duncan in 1944, and then author Donald Webster Cory published his book, 'The Homosexual in America', which basically blasted society for repressing Homosexual.
Interesting note is that Cory was a pen name, for Edward Sagarin, who is noted for abandoning, or ignoring his homosexuality. While his book was an insider view of being a homosexual at the time, his later life was spent in actually supporting the theory that being gay was a disorder.
He in fact opposed many of the movement to gain status in society, as a minority, despite his writings earlier that gay's were a persecuted minority.
There is no set format for making this type of announcement. It can be spontaneous, or rehearsed. It is acknowledging to another, that one is gay, without being asked, or forced into making such a revelation.
The key to coming out, versus being outed, is that this is VOLUNTARY, and not forced on the person, due to any outside pressures.
Generally, 'coming out' is done in stages. It is not a one time shot, or deal, but takes time, and involves several various stages.
The first stage is self admittance. This being where one actually admits to themselves that they are indeed homosexuals. That it is not some errant behavior pattern.
The next stage usually involves coming out to a selected friend, family member or co worker. It is usually someone who one trusts greatly, and then afterwards, one watches how they behave, gauging their reactions.
As a person becomes more accustomed to being acknowledged as being Gay, as they see how the reactions are, they increase the number of people who know their sexual orientation.
At the beginning stages, it can be that a friend may know, but no one else, or that their co-workers all know, but not the family members, or not all of the family members. It can be selective at the beginning, gradually increasing over time.
In addition, as new friends are made, new job opportunities arise, the whole process continues, as to informing them of one's sexual orientation.
Practice (Associated Acts): Transgender / Transsexuals may actually come out twice.
A person may live in the gender of preference, and come out to friends, family, co-workers, that they are not as they appear. A person who dresses, lives as a woman but is a man is such an example.
It is that they live as the gender the most identify with, then when they become that gender, they are once more 'in the closet' so to speak, in that they are in all aspects that gender, both physically and mentally.
However, again, they may 'come out' to inform friends, family, that at one time they actually were another gender. Thus they go through the whole process of coming out, a second time.
Noteworthy: There is a classification or scale used to determine one's adjustment to being Homosexual. However, the popular classification is under question, given how society has supposedly changed in its acceptance of homosexuality.
The Cass Identity Model is the commonly used stages that one goes through in order to be classified as being a well adjusted homosexual.