Coming out is different for everyone.
We live in a society where even though there are more ‘out’ lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and Trans people, being straight is still seen as the ‘norm’.
What is coming out?
Coming out is when a person tells another person or group their sexuality or gender (gender if different from the one assigned at birth). Lesbian, gay, bi and Trans people can come out at any age or time in their lives and in varying degrees. The trick is to come out to a level that enables you to be happy, whether that’s fully (to everyone you know), to certain groups or to just yourself.
Why come out?
Most people want to be honest about who they are especially to friends, family and those they care about.
Once you have come out to yourself, this will be when you may decide that you want to come out to family or friends. If you feel that you need support, there are several ways that you can access this:
- Support groups such as your local LGBTQ centres – they have help lines and many run youth groups
- Digital and online services
- Specialist services such as independent advocates (they may charge)
- Other LGBTQ people/friends
When making the decision whether to come out, it’s important to look at the negatives and positives to prepare yourself and stay emotionally well.
Some possible positives
- You can be yourself/show the world who you are
- Live as you want to live
- Be yourself
- Feel unburdened and free
- Accept yourself
- Make new friends and social groups
Some possible negatives
- People may treat you differently
- People thinking you are joking
- Other people’s ignorance/bullying
Tips for coming out
Think about coming out to someone you trust; remember if they don’t react in a way that you expected, try to give them time, especially a parent who could have lots of different feelings including worry (about homophobia or other peoples prejudices) – you will have known how you feel for some time, this will be new to them.
- Be sure that you are ready to come out and that this is something you want to do, not feel forced or pressured to do
- Be prepared to answer questions
- Be prepared for surprise
- Be prepared for people not being surprised/the person already knowing
- Be somewhere safe
- Be calm
- Be prepared for any reaction-anger, happiness, denial, supportive even sympathy
- Give yourself time – don’t rush
- Be prepared for friendships to change, some for the better, some for the worse
Remember – be kind to yourself, do not pressure yourself, find a way that’s comfortable for you – text, email, face to face, telephone, video and never regret or feel guilty for who you are and who you love.
How to get help
If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your public health nurse.
Find help in your local area
Find help in your local area
Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.