Some of the most difficult and important decisions in life for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people relate to coming out. Coming out is different for everyone, there are many questions to think about. How will it affect your future? Your family? Your friends? Your work? You never know how other people are going to react but the most important person to come out to first is yourself. Being honest about who you are and not feeling the need to hide behind a secret identity is to many people a huge weight lifted off their shoulders.It becomes easier to meet other people with similar feelings and over time can have a positive effect on all aspects of your life, when you are happier and feel that you can be accepted for who you really are.
Making the decision to come out as a lesbian, gay, bi or trans person can make us think about our own personal journeys and how we can help and inform others to take the first steps to acknowledging such an important part of our lives.
Once you have come out to one person the process does not end there, throughout your life you will find yourself in situations and around people where you feel the need or desire to disclose your sexual orientation or trans status.
Ultimately there is no right or wrong way to come out, do it the way you want to and the way you feel comfortable. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans support organisations across the world who are there to offer a helping hand, a friendly ear, and who have vast experience of helping people just like you.
The prospect of coming out can be a scary one for many, and it's important to remember that nobody can dictate your coming out apart from yourself.
At LGBT Foundation we’re here if you need us
If you want to chat around coming out, call us on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am until 6pm Monday to Friday, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Helpline has been running for nearly 45 years, and is staffed by a team of dedicated staff and volunteer operators, all of whom receive extensive training and support.
We also offer a range of services and support related to sexual orientation and trans status. To find out how we can help you, give us a ring or visit our support page here.
Everyone's coming out experience is unique to them. Here are some experiences/reflections on coming out from LGBT Foundation and friends
Okay, so I came out pretty late at the age of 25, but I’ve always known I was gay since I was 12. I felt like I was fighting with myself, holding back in certain situations, hiding my true self because I was afraid of who I really was. Being mixed race, growing up in the 90’s, I thought I had to act a certain way and hide myself. I got to a point where I didn’t even want to talk in public places because I was so conscious of my voice. You tell yourself things like, “I don’t know who I am” “nobody will get me”, “I just don’t fit in”.
Then I joined a retail company. Cool, like minded young people working in this beautiful buzzing city, Manchester. When I worked at there, as cheesy as it sounds, it felt like family.
This is the place where I found my voice, and wasn’t ashamed of it.
Being around people who love you, makes you, love you. My family and friends have been my rock, I have a great support system behind me.
I tried for so long being someone I thought people would want be to be like, instead of being the person I was born to be. If I could turn back the clock and talk to my 12 year old self, I would say, love your voice, because you have something to say. And this is for my fellow sistas, wherever you are, what you identify as...... love your voice, things will get better. You’ll meet like minded people who will love you, for you. Tell your truth and live the person you were born to be. I love you and I don’t even know you. You matter 💜
For as long as I can remember I always had an interest in Women, growing up in a Catholic family I always struggled to come to terms with the thoughts and feelings I had as I always believed that I would be rejected. So I chose to suppress these feeling, which caused me a lot of upset and anxiety. At the age of 24 I had my first experience with a Woman, and from then on knew that I had to make some changes. After opening up to a friend this gave me the confidence to open up to my parents. I was scared that I would be rejected but it fortunately it turned out that they completely accepted me and only wanted me to be happy. Going back I wish I would have never made assumptions on the way others would react to me coming out, I have learnt that by been honest about who I am is the best way to live my best life.
I knew that I wasn’t the same as other young boys by the time I started primary school.I found out because I was told that I was ‘different’. I was completely oblivious to any problem with this until people started telling me that I couldn’t behave in a way that seemed most natural to me because ‘that wasn’t how boys acted’. Attempts to straighten me out never worked because I couldn’t pretend to be something I wasn’t. I was given an Action man when I was about 6 in an effort to butch me up a bit but that failed because I thought he was dressed in a dreary fashion so I wanted to glam him up a bit. That didn’t go down too well at home and my doll was taken away from me (sad). Of course, there was no sexual attraction at such a young age but by the time I got to 10 years old I thought I fancied Nadia Comaneci –the amazing Romanian gymnast who wowed the 1976 Montreal Olympics. I didn’t actually fancy her I just enjoyed pretending to be her by copying her gymnastic exercises on the garden lawn. In my teens, I did fantasise about men but I didn’t actually do anything about it and I almost got engaged to a girl from my school. I really thought that was what you had to do. Luckily, (for me and her) my heart just wasn’t in it and we broke up. I totally understand how people get into these situations because you don’t want to upset anyone and you just don’t know what to do but I’m Proud to be the boy that had a Purdey haircut and later borrowed my mum’s curling tongs to try and get the Farrah Fawcett flicks. Never did I think there was something wrong with me. I just thought I had to conform to other people’s expectations. I was right to just try and be myself, whatever that was. There’s always someone who will understand you, support you, and never question you for being who you are. Who you are meant to be.
I’ve given my coming out speech so many times. I used to volunteer for an LGBT charity where I would go give talks in schools to raise awareness about LGBT issues and mental health. Kids would come up to me afterwards thanking me for being there, and inspiring them to be proud of who they are. They reminded me constantly of how important representation was to LGBT people, particularly LGBT youth, in affirming their identity and letting them know they are not alone. That’s why coming out is still so important for our community. It lets people know we’re here, we’re queer and we’re moving past the fear.
But coming out can be an exhausting process. We find we have to come out multiple times in our lives, it’s not just one big dramatic explosion of glitter and rainbows as we announce our sexuality or gender identity to the whole world. We are expected to explain and justify ourselves endlessly, to people who try, but often fail, to understand us. Sometimes we don’t want to slap a label on something as complicated and colourful as our identity. Sometimes labelling ourselves helps us feel seen and heard. Sometimes we lose family, friends and partners, who couldn’t love us for who we are. We make our own families instead, in the streets of gay village bars, in queer bookshops and cafes, in online forums and in LGBT charities like this one. We cultivate a sense of belonging and community, sometimes connected through our shared trauma, sometimes connected through our shared love of ABBA. And we finally feel at home.
I came out when I was 23. We had no LGBT education at all, the internet didn’t exist yet, and I’d only heard of 2 LGBT people in the whole world. I had no idea that there were loads of us, or that it would be ok if I was one of them. If I’d known then what I know now, I would have come out at 14, and saved myself a lot of distress. Although it was difficult, it has made such a positive difference to my mental health. Now I work in a role where I can hopefully support other people going through their own coming out process.
Bisexual men are the least likely to be out of the closet. No matter which way you look at it, out at work, out to family, out to social media.
And why would they?
An out bisexual man has a tough road to walk. Bisexual men face double discrimination and face rejection from both straight and gay communities. Not only this but only 19% of women are open to dating a bisexual man.
With these realities awaiting out bisexual men, is it any wonder so many struggle to be out?
My hope is that we can all be more supportive of men that identify as bisexual. That when someone comes out that we don’t tell them it’s not long until they are gay or tell them how unattractive it makes them.
If we want equality for ourselves we must also be willing to give it to others.
It took me a while to come out. At the time I was living a double life, which looking back felt incredibly stressful part of my life. I felt a burden that people would judge me, and as a gay man I wasn’t good enough
I first came out to my Mum. It was a brilliant, emotional experience. She hugged me tightly and told me she loved me. Coming out for me was a great experience, filled with love from family and friends.