This one is all about Coming Out.
Whether you are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, supporting someone through that process OR are coming out about something entirely different, this is what you need to know about coming out.
I’m talking coming out as gay, lesbian, bi and trans specifically, but the lessons I share here are universal to coming out about anything in your life.
Whether you come out as gay, lesbian, bi or trans when you are young or older, the experience and intensity of that initial moment of sharing is all encompassing. Not knowing how it will go and what to expect as a result of opening yourself up can be incredibly scary.
I officially came out when I was 21 years old; a time when sexuality and gender identity weren’t talked about openly in society. Over the last 10 years or so, celebrities and those in the public eye have been courageous and opened up the discussion for sexuality and gender identity in everyday life. It is more commonplace now to hear LGBT conversations in everyday life.
When someone ‘officially’ comes out they are not saying those words for the first time. They have practised for months, maybe years, worried about the reaction they might receive. Hearing other peoples ‘coming out’ stories, some positive but mostly negative, they are littered with elements of intimidation, abuse and violence. The negative stories are internalised in the subconscious and anxiety builds.
Deliberating for weeks over who to come out to first, then there is the agonising concern over the ‘right’ moment and the ‘right’ words to say to them. 5, 10, 35, 100 times? Saying it over and over in your mind before actually going through with it, always considering there may be a ‘better’ moment. One of your concerns is how things will change in your relationships from that point forwards.
That moment of coming out is a sacred one. When those words are uttered, they are not to be taken lightly. This is not a phase or a fad. This is the result of many sleepless nights and years of confusion, struggle and anxiety. Many hours of deliberating the exact words to use, the appropriate timing and potential reactions go into that one moment.
Want to know how my coming out experience went down?
Ok, so imagine this… Christmas Dinner aged 21.
The table is all set, the aromas of a loving prepared Xmas dinner waft all through the house. Gifts lying around. Family is all assembled.
My mum had invited her long-time friends round to celebrate with us. I hadn’t seen them in some time and I remember being sat on the sofa with them when talk turned to relationships.
They asked me whether I had a boyfriend.
My mum very simply replied with: “No, she has a girlfriend. She will be here in half an hour.”
Talk about a cringe-worthy moment followed by me making my excuses and running off in complete embarrassment. I hadn’t even had ‘the conversation’ with my mum but it turns out, I didn’t even need to.
Why do I share this with you?
For two reasons.
1. You may be on the cusp of coming out and feeling scared about how it will go down….. you may be looking for positive coming out stories – and reassurance…
2. I learnt 4 very important lessons that day, that I will share with you now.
Here’s 4 key lessons I learnt from coming out. I wish I had known this 15 years ago!
1. Each individuals experience when coming out is unique. Those stories you hear of it all going wrong – it is not your story. You create your own story.
2. Don’t presume you know how people will react. Your preconceptions and judgements about them may be wrong. Mine certainly were! Everything I had built it up in my head to be – it wasn’t like that at all in reality.
3. There is no ‘right’ or ‘better’ moment. NOW is a good time. One hour from now is a good time. It really doesn’t matter. Just say it and get it out there. It probably won’t be as much a shock to people as you think it will be.
4. You don’t only come out once. I have come out every day for the last 15 years. It gets easier – much easier!
Seriously, don’t feel anxious or stressed about the coming out experience. If you have any questions about coming out – ask me. I am here to share my experience and knowledge.
If you have already come out, what advice would you give someone who is on the cusp of coming out?
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