Coming Out

What is coming out?

Coming out just means sharing with someone that you are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Unlike your race, the colour of your hair or whether you wear glasses or not, it’s not something you can tell by looking at someone, so if you want people to know,you may well need to tell them. The process of coming out is different for every single person and it isn’t a one-off event. At times it can feel like you have to come out every day or at least every time you meet a new person!  

Some of the people you might come out to are: your parents, friends,teachers, work colleagues or other family members. Coming out can be done inall different ways. Sometimes you might want to specifically tell someone, such as when you tell your family, but in other situations you might just come out through a simple comment like telling someone the sex of your partner. 

Why come out?

People come out in all different situations and forall different reasons. Mostly, people just want to be honest about who they are, especially with the people they love.

Hiding who you are can be a big struggle and it can also mean youmissout on certain things like your partner being able to build relationships with your family. Many young people come out to their family so they can be honest with them about their lives and do things like bring their partner to a family event. 

Just because you have come out to some people, it doesn’t mean youhaveto come out to everyone. Your family may know you are gay but you may not want to tell work colleagues- that’s ok, it’s up to you to decide who you want to tell and when. 

Some people find being out makes life a lot easier. It could mean they can be honest about where they socialise, who their partner is and other things about their life that they’d have to hide if they didn’t want people to know they were lesbian, gay or bisexual. 

Unfortunately we live in a society where a lot of people assume that everybody is heterosexual. Sometimes it can be frustrating if you are LGB to listen to people make assumptions about your partner’s sex and other things impacted by your sexual orientation telling them that you are gay can be a useful way to end these assumptions. 

Coming out can also be of really great value to the  LGB  community as a whole. Letting people know that there are lots of  LGB  people out there who come from all different backgrounds, dress and act in all different ways and who all have different kinds of interests can help people to understand that being  LGB  isn’t unusual or even that exciting, it’s just normal.

Support with coming out

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Some people come out with no problems at all but for others there may be obstacles and setbacks. It can be difficult if the people you care about have a hard time accepting who you are. Everyone's coming out journey is different.

Coming Out! Answers to some of the questions you may have is our guide for young people. It is designed to provide answers to some of the most common questions that young people might have if they are thinking about coming out, or think they might be lesbian, gay or bisexual. Written and designed in conjunction with young people themselves, the pocket-sized guide offers advice and guidance as well as suggestions for further support. 

Download your copy by clicking on the picture below.

The  RUComingOut website has an archive of coming out stories from people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as tips about coming out and interviews with inspiring lesbian, gay and bisexual people.  If you are considering coming out, it might be helpful to look at the website to read about how other people came out.  Please note that Stonewall is not responsible for the content of this site or any other external websites we link to.

If you would like to talk to someone about coming out then there are lots of organisations you can approach. Stonewall’s online Info Bank which you can find  here has links to many of them or you can contact our Info Service directly for suggestions and support: 08000 502020.

Good luck - you are embarking on a very exciting adventure!