February is LGBT+ History Month in the UK. This month’s relationship section is about experiences. Coming out is massive for anyone in the LGBT+ community and every experience is different.
My coming out story? It’s kind of an odd one. I was roughly 16 when things started to click. But it wasn’t like an earth-shattering realisation like TV seems to make it out to be. It was as simple as waking up one morning and suddenly having a crush on a guy who I probably saw a number of times before, but this time it felt like it changed everything. The other weird thing about this was that it wasn’t strange, it didn’t feel any different to anything I felt before. This is going to sound silly, but I didn’t know what it was being gay, though I found out pretty quickly. The best part though? Every one of my friends and family seemed to already know so I never really had a massive coming out experience and I always found support in my family. I did have a very negative reaction from my step father, which wasn’t a pleasant experience, but over time things got better. They are not perfect by any stretch, but they are better.
The process of coming out can only be described as being on a rollercoaster. The point where you’re about to say it is like sitting at the top of the ride, hanging over the edge and shaking in anticipation. I found myself tongue twisted and choking on my words, still feeling as if I was hanging over the edge, and the suspense was unreal. The point where you actually say it, is when the roller coaster drops and suddenly you’re hurtling toward the ground, putting complete faith in this rollercoaster to catch you before the bottom and then of course, you rise back up and the ride continues. The relief is exhilarating, and by the time the ride is over you’re on a high, giddy on adrenaline and want to do it all over again. To me coming out is exactly like this, you have the suspense, followed by the complete fear once you’ve actually said it, hoping and praying that your confidant will catch you, and once they do the relief a happiness I’ve never felt before, and likely never will again. Once you’ve told your immediate friends and family, you want to do it again and again, the relief is exhilarating and eventually outweighs the fear. I’m aware I was very lucky with my coming out story, and since being at university it’s only become easier to come out. Eventually you’ll find yourself barely coming out anymore, the important people in my life know and are happy for me. I’m at complete liberty to tell or not tell people who pass through my life, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t but I no longer feel afraid to tell people.
The first time I really admitted to anyone that I liked girls I was 16 at a friend’s house party although I suspected I might not be straight at 13. Sat at the top of the stairs with two of my closest friends I finally plucked up the courage to voice what I had known for 3 years. They told me they loved me, and it didn’t make a difference. I was just me and that was great. At the end of Sixth Form at a friend’s 18th birthday party I decided I would come out to all of my friends before I left for university. I ran around to everyone saying: ‘Good Luck with Uni oh and by the way I like girls!’ Pretty much everyone said: ‘yeah, we know’ or ‘that’s great, good luck to you too.’ It was actually incredibly uneventful considering I’d been so worried for years. At University I was so much more relaxed about telling people that it just came up on nights out, or at pre’s when discussing ‘the most bang-able’ U.S. president, they’ve all been dudes… Not my thing. Just causal and again MOST people have been fine with it, one or two people haven’t been outright homophobic, but they definitely aren’t as comfortable around me anymore. I have many other friends who treat me exactly the same as before, so it didn’t matter, and my immediate family are totally cool with it so I count myself lucky.
Coming out is a continuous process, as you can see from the multiple times and different people you can come out too. This can be incredibly nerve wracking but, as Mia says, can be exhilarating! As Sir Ian McKellen has said, he makes a decision how much to tell a taxi driver he’s having a chat with if they start asking about his wife and grandkids (which he doesn’t have) despite being a confident and happy gay man he still says ‘I feel that I am not completely, totally out, because there are situations in which I decide to be discreet.’ Every experience is different, there’s no right or wrong way to come
out, and people who identify as trans or nonbinary or ace have even more different experiences when coming out.
To finish with some advice
Friends and Family
Be there for the person you love if they come out to you, they’re still the same person and others might not be so kind.
It’s 100% up to you how, and when, and who, you come out to. It’s never too early or too late, you’re not the first and certainly aren’t the last person to feel the way you do.