What does coming out mean?
Coming out is when you tell someone about your sexuality or gender identity for the first time. You may do this more than once, when you meet new people or if your identity changes.
You don’t need to come out if you don’t feel comfortable or safe. Your identity is real, even if you are the only one who knows about it.
I'm thinking about coming out
Everyone’s experience of coming out is different. You may feel relieved or free to express yourself the way that you want.
Whatever you do, it has to feel right for you.
Making a plan
You may feel more relaxed if you plan, but it’s okay if your plans change or you decide to wait.
Some things to think about are:
- Who you feel most safe to come out to. Can you test the waters first by mentioning an LGBTQ+ storyline in a film to see how they respond.
- What space would feel most comfortable for you and the person you are coming out to. You could speak to them in person, over the phone, in the car, while on a walk or through a message or email.
- Decide what you feel okay to share and what you would prefer to keep private.
- Write down some options or practice saying them out loud.
Dealing with other people's responses
People close to you may need some time to process what you have said and may have questions. If someone reacts negatively this may change after having time to reflect.
You don’t have to come out to everyone at once. It can help to set boundaries and remind people that this is your journey, and it is not okay for them to tell other people without your permission.
If you want your friends or family to tell others for you, have a chat about what you are happy for them to share.
The most important thing is that you feel safe. If you don’t feel like it is safe to come out, you don’t have to. your identity is valid, even if you are the only one who knows about it.
If you are worried about someone’s reaction, take the following steps:
- Tell someone you trust what you are planning to do.
- Arrange to stay at a friend’s house for the night if needed.
- Have a bag ready in case you need to leave quickly. The bag could include clothes, money, and important documents.