LGBT+ History Month – The fear of coming out

Because February is LGBT+ History month, and our printed edition of Waterfront this month features some coming out stories as well as some advice, I thought I would share my own coming out story. Despite knowing that I am bisexual ever since I was around 16 years old, when I first experienced really strong feelings for one of my best female friends, I’ve only recently started being more open about my sexuality and there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I just think that there are some aspects about my life that I like to keep to myself. I can talk and write openly about mental health, about bereavement, about cancer, but my sexuality among other things has always been something that I liked to keep to myself. This is not least because the only person who knew about my bisexuality for a few years was my late father. It has only been in the past year that I’ve told a few very close friends about it. Another reason for keeping my sexuality to myself is down to fear of coming out, especially where my family is concerned. I come from a family who have very “traditional” views on life – on LGBT+ issues, on immigration, on religion, on their views about where people should be at certain ages in their lives… I understand that being bought up a certain way makes it difficult for some people to change their perspectives about the world and what is right or wrong. Being judged by my family has always been something that I have feared about coming out. I very recently, accidentally came out to my Mum whilst we were, anecdotally, on a spa day out together and she said “I don’t mind if it’s a guy or a girl, as long they make you happy and can cook well,” to which I sort of awkwardly mumbled “good because I could fall in love with either a man or a woman” and that was the end of the conversation. It was quite an overwhelming thing because the prospect of telling my Mum about being bisexual has been a huge worry for me and while I certainly don’t feel proud of myself for telling her, I feel more comfortable in writing a coming out story. I think what’s inspiring about coming out stories is that; of course, everyone’s story is their own. I imagine that I will look back on mine and wonder why I spent so many years in perpetual anxiety about coming out to my Mum, whereas I look back on coming out to my Dad and while I get sad sometimes, it’s one of those memories that I will cherish forever. Coming out, and being open about my sexuality is something – I have come to realise – that I can take my time with; and I believe that is what I would give as advice, or reassurance to others in a similar situation – that you do it in your own time when and how you feel comfortable doing so.

I have a postcard on my bedroom wall which I like to look at when I’m feeling less comfortable about my sexuality.

By: Emily

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