Coming out is monumental for anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some people write letters, others bake rainbow cakes covered in sprinkles. How I came out isn’t nearly as well-planned or delicious.
Early last year, I found myself falling in love for the first time. I didn’t see it coming. We’d been friends for a while, but literally overnight, something shifted in our friendship. I found myself on a crazy, passionate and utterly terrifying roller coaster with another girl.
Before her, I’d always identified as heterosexual.. But I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I’d never been curious.. With her, it became crystal clear that I definitely wasn’t straight.
She was witty, talented and beautiful. Sometimes I felt like I’d won a prize to stand next to her. Neither of us were ready to be out, but for the first time, I had to accept a side of myself that I’d ignored.
Months passed and the more sure I became of her and our secret relationship, the more doubts seemed to creep into her mind. Eventually, she broke my heart.
At first, I tried to hide my heartbreak from my family and friends. It was 3pm on a Sunday when I knew I had no other option than to tell them - I wasn’t coping and I couldn't hide it anymore. Before I could change my mind, I stumbled into the kitchen and tried to tell my mum the secret that had been hanging over me for months. I choked on the words. For the next half an hour, she just held me until I could whisper what was wrong:
I was in love with a girl.
The girl had just shattered my heart.
I was sorry for lying to her and dad and I hoped they still loved me.
What happened next is something we all hope for. My mum smiled and told me whoever I decided to spend my life with would never stop them loving me. In fact, she’d guessed months ago and had been prepping my dad for the revelation. I went to bed that night knowing how unbelievably lucky I was.
I came out to my friends next. Some were extremely hurt – they felt like I’d lied to them, and didn’t trust them. For a while, our friendships were difficult and rocky. I felt huge amounts of guilt because of this. Maybe if I’d come out ‘properly’, when I was ready and had planned to, they’d have taken it better. Despite their feelings, they still dragged me out for coffee, bought me bath bombs and told me it’d get better.
And it did. Happiness seeped back into my life. But this notion of not coming out 'properly', in the way I wanted, kept tormenting me. As the time passed, I started to realise something important. No, I didn't get to come out the way I hoped to, but that really didn't matter at all. In all of this, I had missed the most important point:
Coming out, for any reason, in any fashion, sets you free.
Tips for coming out:
- Beforehand, binge watch every gay or semi gay tv show – OITNB! The L World! Queer As Folk! When We Rise!
- Only come out if it's safe to do so - your safety is more important than anything else.
- If it isn't safe, bide your time. Make plans, start saving money, and know that one day, you'll be able to.
- Don't let anyone pressure you into coming out.
- Expect to feel elation, followed by surrealism, followed by exhaustion.
- You might find it easier to come out to strangers at first, rather your friends and family. Don’t feel guilty – it’s a practice run.
- People will ask a lot of questions. Don’t feel that you need to answer anything you’re uncomfortable with.
- If you’re like me and don’t ‘look gay’, you’ll have to come out again, and again and again. That’s okay – you’ll get super creative with your methods!
- If your family and friends truly love you, they’ll keep loving you, even if they struggle to understand it.
- You’ll find life is suddenly a lot lighter and brighter when you’re not hiding anymore.