Do you think you might be gay, bisexual or lesbian? Are you questioning your sexuality and want to talk about it? Do you think you might be trans or non-binary? We understand that it might sometimes be difficult to talk about these feelings, especially to your closest friends and family.
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual (or any other sexuality), trans or non-binary (or having any other gender identity) is completely normal and natural.
Some people feel that they are born liking only the opposite gender, the same gender or both, and some feel that they have been assigned the wrong gender at birth. Others might come to these realisations later on in life, or they might change how they identify over time. Some might never want to put a label on their feelings or their gender identity.
Whatever your feelings are, they are OK.
WHAT IS COMING OUT?
Coming out is what people often call telling people around you that you think you might be attracted to people of the same gender or that you are a different gender to that which has been assigned to you.
It’s not in any way essential to come out publicly – in fact, it’s quite common for people to be ‘out’ in certain areas of their lives but not in others – but lots of people feel that they want to be open about who they are and how they feel with the people they are closest to.
Other people feel that they shouldn’t have to come out, because people who are not LGBTQ+ don’t have to. There’s no right or wrong choice: you should do what’s right for you.
Deciding to come out might feel like a very hard or scary decision, so take as much time as you need to make it. If you decide you are ready to come out, it can help to be prepared and to ask yourself some questions before you do.
WHY SHOULD I COME OUT?
Ask yourself why it is important to you to come out. This could be because hiding your identity might make you feel low or insecure, or it could be that you want to be out and proud to BE YOU. It might be that you are starting to feel ready to meet people or start dating.
Whatever you decide, you haven’t lied to anyone by not coming out sooner or at all – don’t let anyone make you feel like you have.
WHO SHOULD I TELL?
If you do want to come out, it is very important to think carefully about who you tell and when you tell them. It might be easier to tell someone outside your family first, or to talk to somebody else who has already come out about their experiences. You might have a close relationship to someone in your family who you want to tell first – this is completely up to you.
Think what the reaction of the person you tell might be. If you know that your parent/friend/carer/sibling is homophobic, biphobic or transphobic, then consider telling them with somebody else there with you. You might have to explain what some terms mean, so it could help to be ready with some simple definitions.
When telling someone who you think might respond in a negative way, try to talk about your feelings rather than your opinions – for example, you could start sentences with ‘I feel’. This is not because your opinions are wrong or invalid, but just because feelings are much harder to argue with!
WHEN SHOULD I TELL THEM?
Plan a good time to tell them, when you know you have enough time to talk to each other.
Make sure that you have a clear head and that you haven’t been drinking alcohol or taking any substances.
Try to avoid telling them at a big family occasion (like a wedding, Christmas, Mother’s Day or a birthday party). These occasions are full of other emotions already and the person you tell might have their focus on something else and not have the time to give you enough attention.
Try to tell them calmly, and not when you are in a bad mood or want to hurt them with the news. Make sure that there is enough time for them to process the information.
WHAT IF THEY DON’T LIKE IT?
Every family is different and there is no foolproof way of making sure everything goes well. Most parents will probably be happy and proud that their child is being open and honest with them, but there are some that are not. Some parents might feel shocked at first, or show emotions of anger or anxiety, and you might have some arguments. It is common for parents or relatives/carers to need some time to adjust to what you’ve told them.
If you think your family or friends are likely to react badly to you coming out to them, then you need to make sure that you have a back-up plan in place. If you live with your parents and you think they will kick you out when you tell them, make sure that you have a safe place to go to until things calm down. Make arrangements with a friend or another relative beforehand, make sure that you have some money saved and some clothes at their house.
Remember, this is just a back-up and hopefully coming out will not be a problem. If you are unsure about it, talk to somebody first and get support! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help or go to our resources page for other contacts.
You are still the same person. You are still YOU. Let them know that you have not changed who you are, and that you respect them, which is why you want to be honest with them.
If your parent, friend or anyone else reacts badly to your news, give it some time. Some people might need longer than others to adjust and let the information sink in. They might need to get some information or support themselves.