Sexuality - Coming Out
It is a daunting situation for many of us who identify as LGBTQ+ to be open and share who we are with friends and family. It can lead us down a path of low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, including social anxiety and other mental health problems. Many of these reasons often are due to concerns with facing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia from those around us whether that be friends and family or strangers in public. The stigma and discrimination many people face when they identify with their sexual orientation from society, can cause social isolation, exclusion and rejection from the community around us.
These fears are very real and justified, but it is also crucial to remember that by embracing our identities we incite a positive impact on our well-being. The freedom that comes with self-acceptance and self-expression can lead to an increase in confidence. By truly accepting ourselves, this can lead to improved relationships with friends and family because we are no longer hiding part of ourselves.
When should I start telling people?
We always need to remind ourselves that everyone’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance is different, there is no right or wrong way to share how you identify. Some of us share at a young age, whereas some never do. Some tell everyone they know, however others maybe only share with those closest to them. It will always depend on your own experiences and situation and is a deeply personal thing and you should never feel rushed or pressured to divulge. It can be a liberating and exciting experience and for most of us there is a reason behind why we come out, whether it’s because we are in a relationship and would like to introduce our partner to those in our life, we want to connect with others who identify as the same sexual orientation as us, or we simply want to share the news. There is no particular reason you need to come out, if you want to do it and it feels right that’s a reason in itself.
How do I decide who to tell?
Deciding who you want to tell is completely up to you, again this is a deeply personal thing. You are under no obligation to tell everyone in your family or friendship group. You may decide to tell your siblings but not your parents, or you tell a select few of your friends but not your family. The decision is yours and you don’t have to justify your reasons behind it to anyone. Just because we decide to share with someone our sexual orientation it does not give them the right to go on and share that private information with others, you are well within your rights to ask them to keep it private.
How do I tell people?
Make sure you are comfortable. Often in TV and Film when a character decides to come out it tends to be a formal conversation, face-to-face and can sometimes be uncomfortable. It does not need to be like this, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this then don’t. If you don’t want to make it a big deal, then it doesn’t have to be, ultimately you are in control. It can be as casual as mentioning your partner or going to a LGBTQ+ event. Many find that physical distance can be helpful, video, voice calls, texts and emails are a great way of achieving this, it allows you the space and time to process that conversation afterwards. In a lot of cases, people don’t know what to say even if they are supportive of you, this gives them the chance to respond thoughtfully. There will never be a perfect time or place, but it’s good to consider how it can be comfortable and convenient for you. This is your decision and journey and should not be dictated by anyone else, no matter who they are to you.