For this year's Coming Out Day, we called on young people to tell their coming out stories. Here's a selection of just a few of them, submitted by lesbians, gay people, bisexuals and trans people from across the country.
My dad had used some slightly offensive gay jokes in the past, so I was afraid he would react badly to me coming out as trans. I decided to write him a letter. I put it under his pillow, so he could read it before he slept and work out his thoughts properly. The next day, he just acted like normal. He asked me what name I wanted to go by and gave me some suggestions of what he thought might work. I am still glad I came out through a letter though, just in case.
When I came out to my mum I did it in a pink onesie (very manly) and asked her to call me Ethan and use he/him pronouns. She cried for three days and told me she was grieving her daughter. After a few months she was slowing getting used to the idea and a year on she was completely on board. Now a few years on we still have such a close relationship and talk about gender a lot. She supports me all the time. So my message is that, even if people have bad reactions sometimes, they might just need time and if they are the right people they will support and love you unconditionally.
I didn’t know my mum was unaware that I was bi, so I casually brought it up in conversation while talking about someone at school. I guess she didn’t know, so she was really surprised but then she also came out as bisexual to me.
"I’ve realised that if people can’t accept you for who you are, it’s not you who should have the issue, it’s them."
I remember for a long part of my childhood believing I was a lesbian, finding my girl friends attractive and suggesting games which led to us kissing. I wondered, was it just me that felt this way as I believed what I felt was wrong. Bit of a cliché but it’s true. I went to high school and found boys attractive also and thought… well, what am I? I can’t find both attractive as it leads to people calling you greedy or indecisive. Well that’s not true, thanks to officially coming out to my friends recently and receiving the best support ever I’m now close to telling my family. I’ve realised that if people can’t accept you for who you are, it’s not you who has the issue, it’s them.
I first came out to my high school music teacher towards the end of a very tough year. I’d been struggling a lot with my work because I was worrying so much, and she was the one teacher I felt had my back when my grades were slipping. After this, I found it a little easier to talk to my friends about it. I lost some friends because it made them uncomfortable, but in many ways, it improved my friendships and closeness with others because I didn’t feel like I was hiding anymore. I told my mum when my dad was working abroad, and she didn’t seem to believe it was more than just a phase. A couple of years later, I told them both after I had been with my first boyfriend for a while. I’m lucky that my parents are open minded people; most of my extended family still don’t know. To be honest, they don’t have to. My stance is that the important people in my life know and support me.
When I was 15, I finally found words to answer a life-long question: why don't I feel normal? I have known for many years that I'm not like other girls, when I was just 5 people called me a tomboy. I clutched those words like a lifeline. They made sense. Looking back now, I realise 'boy,' made sense. And when I was 15, just before the new year (and my birthday!) I figured that out. I finally had the understanding I needed. When I worked up the courage in the summer of 2015, I left my parents a letter and went away for a school trip. I couldn't bring myself to say it to their face, just yet, and that was okay. When I came back, it was silent for a few days until eventually, it came up. We spoke and they understood enough; over time, they learned to understand it all, as much as they can. My dad drives me to all my GIC appointments, came to my first T shot and even learnt how to do them for me. My Mum still struggles but she knows to call me by the correct name now, to use he/him pronouns, and even calls me her son. They helped me tell the whole family and for the first time in my life, I answered my question. I'm not 'like other girls' because I'm trans. And that's okay.
"I knew they’d accept me, but would I accept myself?"
This isn’t so much a story of me coming out to a friend, more as coming out to myself at the time. It was several years ago and I’d known I wasn’t cis for a couple of years. I identify as non-binary, yet hadn’t had the guts to ask anyone to treat me how I’d feel more comfortable. Then I met some online friends - an author and his significant other - and it was the first time someone asked my pronouns. Something had always felt scary and permanent about changing the pronouns I used, but at that point something about these wonderful people made me unashamedly myself. “Oh, they/them” I replied, casually, with my heart suddenly racing. I knew they’d accept me, but would I accept myself? They called me using ‘they’ for the rest of their visit. It felt me. It was amazing. After then I told friends to call me ‘they’ and it made me exponentially more comfortable.
I said to my best friend “I think I might be gay” and after a second, she replied with “same”.
I grew up in a rural town where being gay wasn't outright wrong anymore, but there was next to no discussion about LGBT people. It was something to be tolerated but not necessarily accepted by all. So, after my first year at uni, I had gotten to a point of “if they ask directly, then say yes”. In my inter-year summer, I spent over a week alone in the Highlands of the assynt, it was during this week with only my thoughts and the mountains that I finally accepted it myself. Not only accepted it but became proud to be gay. I decided that when I got back home I'd tell my dad. I still procrastinated a little to do this, not because I was concerned about how he'd react, but I didn't know how to bring it up. I had once heard him talk to a family friend about how my parents struggled with finding full acceptance of their marriage early on in this town, because it was a mixed-race marriage, but times have since moved on, I knew he'd understand. So I told him and he absolutely did, in fact he cried from happiness and also because of our shared understanding of struggling not be fully accepted in your life because of who you love.
For more information on coming out, including guides for LGB and trans people, visit our Advice Centre.
Trans and non-binary voices are central to the #OurLives campaign. You can find more campaign content here.