Coming out- sexual orientation
If we look at society as a diverse group of individuals where heterosexuality might be the most common sexual orientation, that doesn’t make it the only one or therefore ‘normal’. Some people happen to be straight, some gay, some bisexual, and so on. This does not necessarily have anything to do with a person's gender identity or expression. Trans people have a sexuality too and this is different and separate to a person’s gender identity.
You don't have to tell anyone about your sexual orientation if you don't want to. It's up to you who you tell, but you might feel happier if you can be honest about who you really are.
Coming out- trans
Realisation that one is trans can take anywhere from a few moments to several decades. Sometimes trans people have an inkling early on in their lives that their assigned gender feels out of sync with their bodies sometimes this doesn’t come to light until much later in life. The self-realisation process can be extremely complicated and scary.
The human mind does its best to help us survive, which can translate into triggering intense denial. Due to the gender binary and fear of being ‘abnormal’, it is common for a person to try to ignore signs pointing towards gender variance, whether consciously or unconsciously. Coming out is an incredibly personal thing, if someone comes out to you, make sure you offer them confidentially, support and reassurance.
Do people know about my sexual orientation or trans status?
It’s important to bear in mind that the only person that really needs to be happy about your sexuality or gender identity is you! Everyone else may either (a) know already, (b) not be that interested or (c) be LGBT themselves and you’ve just opened a big old closet door for them!
The prevelance of stereotypes mean that people who don't conform to pre-conceived ideas about masculinity or femininity are sometimes suspected of being lesbian, gay, bi or trans.
LGBT people come in all different shapes and sizes, some of us are more ‘readable’ than others, and assumptions are made about people who aren't LGBT, but who don't fit neatly into what people think a girl, boy or person should be.
If you've been behaving secretively or differently, then your family and friends will have probably noticed, but that's not to say that they will have jumped to any conclusions about your sexual orientation or gender identity. Some people might know, but it's what you know that matters, this is your life and your love. You should share it with others when you are happy and comfortable with doing so.
A good idea is to start by telling someone you really trust, and who you know will be supportive.
Coming out is different for everyone!
Some of the most difficult and important decisions in life for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people relate to coming out. From an early age LGBT people face discrimination and prejudice because of our sexual orientation or gender identity. This can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. If we are confused about our own identity, added homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia doesn’t help.
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.
Lots of people that you tell will be really positive and will be proud of you for telling them, they might even be flattered that you trust them enough to tell them. You may also experience some negative reactions, or find that some friends or family members take longer to accept who you are.
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 is a scary one for many, and there are lots of concerns around being rejected and left in isolation. In all situations there will be positive and negative effects of coming out, and when looking at the best way to do it, it’s almost impossible for anyone to give a perfect guide to the event.
At LGBT Foundation we’re here if you need us- for information, support, or a listening ear.
If you want to chat before coming out, call us on 0345 3 30 30 30, 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday. The Helpline has been running for over 35 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.