Soft Kickstarting Your Sexuality – What It Is and How to Do It
During my freshman year in college, I presented a paper to my social movement class that was based on my personal experience of walking in a pride parade the year before. Standing in front of the lecture hall of about two hundred students, I basically walked out of my entire college at once, and thought I might pass out. Coming out has long been considered a once-in-a-lifetime momentous event – one that can be incredibly stressful due to fear of losing friends or family, or even facing violence.
Social media has provided a new option that may seem much safer. Rather than a big release, you can “soft launch” your sexuality on a drip, from adding a rainbow emoji to your bio to creating references that will only be meaningful to others. LGBTQ+ people.
The soft launch concept comes from the business world and works like a test drive, allowing you to fix problems before you get big. “Soft launch gives you more control over who sees and responds to anything you share. So if unexpected issues arise, you’ll be aware of them before they reach the majority of your audience. Soft launch also feels safer and more secure because you have more control over who sees it and how it spreads,” says Sarah Griffow, online marketing and social media expert, creative director at Upswept Creative.
The Benefits of Soft-Launching Your Sexuality
A soft launch of your gender or sexuality can be easier on your mental health – unlike my experience of near fainting. “Coming out is hard,” says Claire Holt, a TikTok creator whose video about soft-launching your sexuality has over 35,000 views. “It’s not just difficult, but just plain pointless to sit down with every person you know and talk to them one at a time. With Soft Launch, you can let people know you’re queer without having to go through all the painful in-person conversations with people you don’t even know very well.
The benefit of avoiding repeat conversations cannot be overemphasized. “[Soft-launching] lets people make the assumption without you having to do the emotional labor of coming out,” says Marla Renee Stewart, MA, sex therapist and sex strategist at Velvet Lips Sex Ed and co-founder of Sex Down South Conference.
Many people tell Elite Daily that a soft launch can reduce the stress of coming out. Kaeli Meno, a screenwriter and director from Alaska, says her soft launch lowered the stakes for her coming out. “I think making a big announcement, for me, felt a lot of pressure and I didn’t want to deal with that,” she says.
Meno also highlighted another important advantage: there is no need to choose a label. “I still have a hard time labeling exactly how I feel. And in tossing it gently, there was an ability to be open about it without opening myself up to people wondering why I felt that way. I think that while I like to “come out” in the traditional sense, my parents would have a lot of thoughts and opinions that could impact how I view myself. I definitely don’t have it all figured out yet , and I know that if I [had] that kind of pressure, I might conform to who they think I should be instead of who I am,” Meno says.
Plus, you might be able to fly under some viewers’ radar. Stuart says:[O]Older people might not get the meaning of what you post and therefore you don’t have to respond to them, and you can easily find a community or bring the community to you. And Holt adds:[Y]You are able to signal to queer people that you are queer, which is great for your dating prospects.
The soft launch of your sexuality also has benefits for your friends and loved ones. “Dating slowly is beneficial because it gives people a chance to get used to the idea that their loved one may be different than they realize,” says Stewart. “It also allows people to research on their own, without you having to be the dictionary of all things queer.”
Design your own soft launch
Now is your chance to be your own PR firm and create a unique soft launch strategy that works for you. Giffrow suggests taking advantage of the flexibility of social media and thinking about the platforms and tools you want to use. She says, “Maybe you will come out to your TikTok followers before mentioning it on Facebook. You can also try sharing it with a limited group of your audience. (Like on Instagram Stories with your close friends.)
As you decide what to share and where, here are some strategies and content suggestions to move your ideas forward.
Start with your biography
Several of our experts suggest dropping a rainbow emoji 🌈 or rainbow flag emoji 🏳️🌈 in your bio. Although it may seem less than subtle, rainbows are popular enough these days that they might seem like a colorful bit of style for anyone not looking for a deeper meaning.
Consider your pronouns
If you currently list pronouns in your biography that no longer suit you, you can start by deleting them and not replacing them with something else. When you’re ready, you can add new pronouns to your biography. For some people, adding more options seems like an easier first step – for example, saying “she/they” before switching completely to “they”.
Repost from other accounts
Sharing content from other sources, especially on your Instagram story where it will disappear in 24 hours, is another good step. Holt suggests “Happy Pride” posts or anything related to LGBTQ+ news.
Share relevant books, music, movies and TV shows
Several of our experts have pointed out that sharing your favorites – from movies to music – is likely to resonate with the audience you seek while being ignored by others. Holt suggests, “Publish songs by openly queer artists like Kehlani, girl in red, [or] Clairo.
Songs aren’t the only way to signal your interests. Katie Pryde, owner of Portland, Oregon comic book store Books with Pictures, recommends:
- “Heart stroke, [by Alice Oseman,] a wholesome graphic novel series about high school rugby players falling in love and finding each other, now made more popular by an excellent Netflix adaptation.
- Gender Queer, [by Maia Kobabe,] the most banned book in America right now, and a heartfelt memoir about gender identity, asexuality, and coming out.
- My brother’s husbanda gory manga by Gengoroh Tagame (best known for his 20 year career drawing much spicier adult manga) a heartwarming story about two men facing homophobia and learning to be a family, mediated by a sweet little girl and his love of Japanese cuisine.”
Pryde points out, “These titles are all mainstream enough to be popular with the general public, but paired with a rainbow in your profile and a Wildfang cap, connoisseurs will get the message.”
Soft, tender–Launch other identities
Once you’re on the soft launch bandwagon, you don’t need to stop with sex. “[People] may want to soft launch by being ethically non-monogamous or being part of the kink scene. Publishing articles about these identities can help you see who does and doesn’t support certain ideologies — at least conceptually,” says L. Kris Gowen, Ph.D., sex educator and podcast co-host. B4U scan.
“I felt gay, might be deleted later.”
Nothing you post on your social media should stay there – you are allowed to change your mind at any time and as many times as you wish. Identity is fluid, and your comfort level with sharing may also change over time.
Social media bios are especially easy to edit. Your changes leave no trace and your additions and subtractions can go unnoticed, making the bios a great starting point for a smooth launch. Even posts from your feed can be deleted if you no longer feel comfortable posting them. A soft launch is a test; changing your mind or adjusting your strategy is not a failure, it is part of the process.
Launched softly or otherwise, you don’t have to come out at all. There are many valid reasons to keep your gender or sexuality to yourself, including your personal preferences. Whether or not you start dropping rainbow emojis and Hayley Kiyoko lyrics, just know that you are not alone.
Claire Holt, creator of TikTok
Marla Renee Stewart, MA, sex therapist and sex strategist at Velvet Lips Sex Ed and co-founder of the Sex Down South conference
Sarah Giffrow, Creative Director and Benevolent Overlord of Upswept Creative
L. Kris Gowen, PhD, EdM, sex educator and podcast co-host of B4U Swipe
Katie Pryde, owner of Books with Pictures