Recognizing your own sexual identity and working toward self-acceptance are the first steps in coming out. First, concerning sexual identity, it helps to think of a sexual orientation continuum that ranges from exclusive same sex attraction to exclusive opposite sex attraction. Exploring your sexual identity may include determining where you presently fit along that continuum.
Concerning self-acceptance, it can be very helpful to focus on the positive aspects of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (GLBT) culture, for example, its music, art, theater, books, events, and groups. It is also very helpful to seek out positive, well adjusted and comfortable role models among GLBT people. Building on the positive does not mean that you pretend that our society is past its discrimination, fears, and negative myths concerning GLBT people, or that these things do not have any effect on GLBT people. However, these negative things are better understood as externally based rather than inherent to your identity or your orientation. Part of developing a positive sense of self is understanding that your own homophobia is also externally based, the product of societal prejudices and anti-GLBT biases that have impinged upon you for much of your life.
One safe means of beginning to come out to yourself is through reading about how others have dealt with similar issues. There are many books and periodicals available on all facets of GLBT life, from clinical studies on GLBT people to collections of coming out stories.