Coming out about your sexuality isn’t a one-off moment. Although we’re moving towards a world where people don’t just assume others are straight, letting people know about your sexuality is something you’ll probably have to do for a while. Luckily, it tends to get easier over time.
It’s up to you who you let in
Some people don’t like the term ‘coming out’, because they think it implies they’ve been somehow hiding, and that other people have a right to know who they’re into. The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with keeping your sexuality on the down low (some people have to for their safety) and it’s totally up to you who you talk to. For instance, you might decide not to tell a particular person, or not to mention it when you don’t think it’s relevant.
It’s also true that sharing this part of yourself can:
- take a weight off your shoulders
- boost your self-esteem
- allow the people who love you to be closer to you
- help you meet people for romantic relationships or intimacy.
In this blog, when we say ‘coming out’ we really mean letting others in.
You’re always coming out to yourself
For a lot of people, the person who it’s hardest to come out to is the one they’re with 24 hours a day – themselves. If you have sexual/romantic feelings (or a lack of sexual/romantic feelings) that don’t line up with what you or society expects, it’s normal to feel confused, angry, hopeless or numb. Because we’re in a society where queer people sometimes aren’t fully accepted, some people feel an ‘internalised’ rejection of themselves. Chipping away at this can take years – but it’s worth it.
If you feel resistance or fear around what you think your sexuality might be, know that this is totally normal, and that the fear is way worse than the thing itself. There’s a reason so many people say ‘it gets better.’ Being true to your deepest self can unlock a lot of happiness. You are loving and loveable. You’re going to be OK.
Coming out and Inviting in
Coming Out, or as we like to frame it “Inviting In”, about your sexuality or gender identity is a different experience for everyone. For some it can be an easy and positive experience and for others it may not be.
For all other group chat transcripts click here
People will go on a journey with you
A lot of the time we think a person’s reaction will be one of two extremes – they’ll either disown you forever, or embrace you as rainbow-coloured balloons pour down from the ceiling. Most people’s reactions will be somewhere between these two extremes.
Some people are surprised at how little some of their friends or family react to their coming out. This can even feel underwhelming! People also often find that there are others who accept them more easily than they accepted themselves.
It’s totally up to you whether or not you answer any questions about your sexuality, and it’s OK to say you’d rather not talk about it or that you’re still working things out.
People’s acceptance of who you are can also be an ongoing process. You might find that a loved one is a little awkward at first, or says something weird or hurtful. Remember that it can be a surprise, and take a little while for them to process.
Unfortunately, not everyone is always accepting, and it can be really hard when they’re not. A lot of it depends on your context – some religious and cultural communities are less accepting of diverse sexualities than others. If you're a young person living at home and your parents or guardians hold strong homophobic beliefs, it's a good idea to wait things out until you're in a safe position to come out. Seek advice from a counsellor, headspace or a youth LGBTIQA+ organisation like Minus18.
It's also true that if someone doesn’t have the reaction you want, this can change over time. Rejection or denial can evolve into tolerance, acceptance and even celebration of who you are.
You’ll always be in new situations
There are different reasons why you might mention your sexuality to someone. It’s always going to be up to you who you come out to. If there are people you’re close to who you’ve told, you might want them to be with you for support when you have certain conversations. You may even want to get your support person to have conversations for you. For instance, you might ask a parent or sibling to talk to a certain relative.
You’ll find it easier to talk about it as time goes on. It’s normal to feel nervous, but it will get easier as you’ll get more and more used to mentioning things.
If you’d like to learn more about coming out and sexuality, check out our online group chat transcripts.