Coming out for the first time is a huge moment in nearly every LGBTQ person’s life. For most, it is the culmination of many years of intense introspection and examination, of realising that you are unlike the majority of your classmates – and at the beginning, this is not a happy realisation. It can be lonely, it can be distressing, it can be agonising. But I believe coming out is, on the whole, a positive experience. For many, it is the first time they themselves have said the words out-loud: “I am gay”, “I am a lesbian”, “I am a transgender man”. It is the moment when an LGBTQ person acknowledges who they are, and that they want to show their true self to the world. It is often a moment of defiance, self-acceptance and honesty.
But when you open your heart to someone and come out for the first time – for coming out is not a single announcement, but a series of conversations that unfortunately occur time and again throughout an LGBTQ person’s lifetime – it is often a terrifying moment, because they could reject you. Naturally, parents and family members are at the top of the list of people you are most scared of being rejected by, but friends, teachers and colleagues are all there too.
It can often feel like there’s no road map for coming out, but there are a number of helpful resources which offer guidance:
Coming out for young people:
The Trevor Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/the-guide
Coming out for adults
Advice for parents and guardians:
Sometimes you may also need someone to talk to – there are multiple helplines which are perfect for when you need a person who will listen with compassion, and help you work through many of the tumultuous feelings that often go hand-in-hand with coming out. These are:
Switchboard: 0300 330 0630, www.switchboard.lgbt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Switchboard provide an information, support and referral service for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and anyone who is considering issues around their sexuality or gender identity. They run a helpline, email and instant messaging service from 10am to 10pm every day, and are supportive and non-judgemental. They will be able to help you talk through any issues or queries around coming out you may have, and can refer you to services and information if needed.
Samaritans: 116 123, www.samaritans.org, email@example.com
Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Samaritans provide a helpline for people to ring anytime to talk through any problems or issues they may have. Free of judgement and completely confidential, they offer a safe place to turn to when you need someone to talk to.