Coronation Street star helps LGF raise awareness of coming out.

Publish Date: 11/10/2011

Today is International Coming Out Day and Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh (aka Hayley Cropper) has been helping the Lesbian & Gay Foundation raise awareness of issues around coming out.

The charity are offering 24 hour online and helpline support for people questioning their sexuality, coming out and for those who are out and proud but need to talk. The LGF’s Community Resource Centre is open until 10pm tonight for people to drop-in for face-to-face support.

Julie helped on the LGF helpdesk putting calls through to the charity’s team of trained staff and volunteers.

She said: “Anything that lets people know that there is a safe space to talk about things is a fantastic thing."

"Coming out is something that you tend to associate with younger people, but actually a lot of people – as I’ve heard from being here today – have come in who are much older who have been living in a certain way all their lives and now feel like it’s time to tell the truth about themselves but have no idea how to do that – especially how to address it with their friends and family."

"The vast experience of the people here and the counsellors can help them with that and just make them feel safe in that decision really and know that they are not alone.”

The actress was told by LGF staff and volunteers that they often talk about LGBT characters and celebrities with people who are in the process of coming out, to help them broach the subject with their families.

Julie highlighted the positive role that celebrity and soaps can play: “I remember Sir Ian McKellen coming out. It was an amazing moment because up until that point people were very closeted and I think it’s helped people enormously.”

"I think that if – for example – you are a gay man coming out to your mum – she’s probably very fond of Sean from Coronation Street, because a lot of mums are.  You can have that as reference point then; it’s not a strange world out there that you know nothing about,  it’s somebody that is in your living room five times a week and that you know and love."

"Its something that people can relate to and I’ve always felt that to be an incredible power of soap - that you can educate people in a very gentle way just by familiarity."

"I think Hayley is a classic example of that – an issue that is really, really uncomfortable and scary and difficult for people, became a love story between two people that the audience cared about."

"I hope that’s helped trans people with telling their family and friends in some way, and I’m sure that in some way that other characters in soaps like Sophie and Sian, and Sean and Marcus help gay people too.”

The LGF will be offering coming out support right through till midnight tonight. However, you can call the charity for support around coming out or any other issue every day between 10am and 10pm on 0845 3 303030.