Coming Out support

Telling people about your sexuality is called coming out.

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You don't have to tell anyone you're lesbian, gay or bisexual if you don't want to. It's up to you who you tell, but you might feel happier if you can be honest about who you really are.

A good idea is to start by telling someone you really trust, and who you know will be supportive. It might also be helpful to get an idea about people's attitudes towards sexuality before you talk to them.

Lots of people that you tell will be really positive and will be proud of you for telling them, they might even be flattered that you trust them enough to tell them. Sadly, not everyone will be so positive and supportive. You should be prepared for some negative reactions and understand that this may be a difficult thing for some people to understand or come to terms with.

Once you have come out to one person the process does not end there, throughout your life you will find yourself in situations and around people where you feel the need or desire to disclose your sexual orientation.

Ultimately there is no right or wrong way to come out, do it the way you want to and the way you feel comfortable.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, there are lesbian, gay and bisexual support organisations across the world who are there to offer a helping hand, a friendly ear, and who have vast experience of helping people just like you.

The prospect of coming out is a scary one for many, and there are lots of concerns around being rejected and left in isolation. In all situations there will be positive and negative effects of coming out, and when looking at the best way to do it, it’s almost impossible for anyone to give a perfect guide to the event. But, here are a few ideas on the do’s & don’ts of Coming Out:

Do

1) Contact The Lesbian & Gay Foundation Helpline for support and guidance 0845 3 30 30 30 10am-10pm every day. A quarter of all of our calls are about issues related to Coming Out. Our Helpliners are all individuals who are used to dealing with many issues and if they can’t help you straight away they’ll know someone who can.

2) Use a trusted friendship to ask for support. Test the water by talking about subjects relating to sexuality before your ready to pour your heart out. Sometimes people don’t always react the way you think they will.

3) Ask a teacher / LGBT worker for support and advocacy, there are many people out there who can help; they're not just their to find you accommodation or tell you about the drama club.

4) Be yourself - be honest and respectful to your feelings and the feelings of your family and friends. When you're finding out about fabulous new friends and surrounding yourself with all kinds of gay influences to make up for lost time - don't forget about those who have always been there for you.

5) Ask yourself why is now the best time to come out? If you’ve got other stresses going on in your life; exams, flatmates, work, school, friends, family etc, now may not be the best time. What do you hope people’s reaction will be? If people aren’t as supportive as you’d like, do you really need the added pressure of their baggage while your getting to grips with what you want to say?

Don't

1) Own the reactions and feelings of others. You need to be sure of what’s right for you and that can change. It’s easy to be influenced when you’re feeling unsure or insecure about something, but you know deep down what’s right for you, regardless of what someone else says.

2) Stand in the closet until someone opens the door. There’s always an opportunity where someone will lead the way into a conversation. It’s up to you if you want to jump in or out. Many people have outed themselves unwittingly or without planning to just because they get sick and tired of keeping it to themselves or listening to homophobia.

3) Do not be frightened about coming out there’s lots of support available. If you can’t find any support where you are ring the LGF helpline 0845 3 30 30 30 10am-10pm daily.

4) If you are having a tough time with Coming Out or if you are already out but need someone to talk to, you can call the helpline or come to the LGF's Face 2 Face counselling sessions.

For more information on the helpline, click here.

For more information on Face 2 Face counselling, click here.

If you have any questions about Coming Out, email helpline@lgf.org.uk for help and advice, or call 0845 3 30 30 30.