The process of coming out for any lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) young person is an important event. The first time you tell somebody that you identify as LGBT or are unsure about your sexuality or gender identity, it can be quite a daunting and scary prospect. This page will hopefully allow you to understand more about what 'coming out' is and how you may decided to go about it. Just remember, there is no 'right' way of coming out - people go about it in different ways and the vast majority of them are glad they did come out.
What is coming out?
The process of telling others about your sexuality (also known as 'sexual orientation') is often referred to as ‘coming out’. Coming out is not necessarily a one-off event - people who identify as LGBT may have to come out many times during their lives.
There are several ways to come out as lesbian, gay or bisexual - so there's no such thing as a 'right' way to come out. You may feel comfortable being open about your sexuality with some people, but not with others. Coming out to certain people, such as family, friends or colleagues, may be difficult and takes courage. Reactions to someone coming out can range from very positive, to less welcoming. Once you have made the decision to tell people about your sexuality, you may want to think about how you tell them. We have set out a few thoughts on coming out, and links to other websites and organisations you can contact if you want further advice and support.
Why should I come out?
Whether you've come to terms with your sexuality or you're still thinking about it, it can be difficult dealing with that on your own. You may get to a point where you need to talk about it with someone, to get support or simply get it off your chest. Don't feel under pressure to come out - take your time. Only you will know when you feel comfortable and ready to do it. To hide your sexuality from other people often means lying and pretending. You will need to think about whether hiding your sexuality is more or less stressful than being open about it.
If you decide to come out, but are unsure how others might react, you could consider making contact with a support group first. There are helplines, community groups and agencies across the country who are there to support and advise you. See below for more details. It could also be good to start by telling one or two trusted friends first, before coming out to other people.
What about my friends/family?
Many LGBTl people come out because they reach a point where they don’t want to hide who they are any more Telling friends and family members can provide extra support and can make relationships feel more honest and real. Some friends may not accept it, but real friends will accept you for who you are. Coming out may change some friendships – sometimes you might end up being closer, but sometimes you may feel some people change when they're around you. The important thing is to explain you are still the same person. If someone doesn't accept it be patient and give them some space, as they may need time to get used to it.
Be patient with people - an initial negative reaction, doesn't mean that they won't accept you in the long term. Talking about LGBT storylines from TV series or celebrities can help start a conversation with other people.