About Your Sexual Orientation
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Coming Out to Yourself
To “come out” means to accept that you are LGBT+, and then tell others that you are LGBT+. Before coming out to others, a big step is coming out to yourself.
You might be thinking:
- I am not like that.
- I can’t be like that.
- It is wrong.
- I am wrong.
- It is against what God wants.
- I can’t be gay because I’m a manly man.
- I can’t be a lesbian because I like make-up and feminine clothes.
- Can I really fancy men and women?
- I don’t fit any of the stereotypes.
- I am scared.
These are all natural things to think, and many LGBT+ people have these worries at first. Some of these concerns are because, in our society, it is assumed all people are straight until told otherwise, so many LGBT+ people assume they are also straight until they realise otherwise. Some of the concerns are because the media often portrays LGBT+ people in a certain way, so some people think that to be LGBT+ you have to act, look and dress a certain way – you do not!
But try not to worry and give yourself some time. Try getting to know more about the LGBT+ community and learn about others who feel the same way you do by checking out our other webpages. But know that attraction to the same gender is completely usual. It is not unusual or weird; people have loved and been attracted to others of the same gender since forever.
Labelling Your Identity
If you are attracted to the same gender, you might identify as lesbian or gay. If you are attracted to your own gender and other genders, you might identify as bisexual or pansexual. You cannot choose how you feel about other people, but you can choose how to label your sexuality, or if you prefer, you do not have to label it at all. There are lots of LGBT+ identities and the list continues to grow – you can explore some of them here.
For many people, their sexuality changes as they get older along with everything else that changes as you get older, so if your feelings change that would be completely usual. If this does happen, you can always choose to label your sexuality in a different way in the future. How you choose to describe your sexuality today does not have to be fixed; you can change the label you assign yourself whenever you wish to.
Coming Out to Others
Coming out to others can feel like sharing your biggest secret. It can be worrying or scary not knowing if the person you tell will understand, keep it private and whether your relationship with that person will change. But coming out can also be liberating and feel as though a large weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
We hope the information we have brought together here will help and support LGBT+ young people in their journey.
Coming out is a choice and you should only come out if you wish to do so. We currently live in a society where it’s assumed everyone is straight until you are told otherwise. Because of this ‘heteronormativity’ many people choose to come out and share their sexuality with others, so people no longer assume they are straight. Others come out because they feel they are hiding a part of their identity or relationships that are important to them from others, and they want to be free from this secret they are carrying. There’s lots of reasons people choose to come out, but you should only come out when you want to and feel comfortable doing so.
There is not a “right” time or age to tell others about your sexuality. Some people realise they are a part of the LGBT+ community when they are in primary school, whilst others realise years into adulthood. You do not have to come out as soon as you realise that you are LGBT+, there is no time-limit on this. You should only come out when you feel ready to do so and you want to share this part of your identity with others. You must remember to prioritise your safety and only come out when it feels safe to do so.
This is up to you and you can choose who you share this with. We would suggest telling someone who you think will be more understanding first; for many this person is a friend or teacher. For others, it might be a family member. This way, further down the line, that person can support you and be by your side when you choose to come out to others who you fear may not be as understanding. You might need to prepare yourself to help your friends and family understand how you are feeling. Some people might not know as much about LGBT+ identities and may need some time to get used to what you have shared with them.
There isn’t one “right” way to come out, but having a plan can help you think about how best to tell people and in what way. Choose a place you feel comfortable where you can have the other person’s full attention. You might want to see how other people have come out; if so, search “Coming Out” in the It Gets Better Campaign stories, speak to an adult using our Proud Connections messaging service, or speak to other young LGBT+ people in a youth group.
If you think there is the potential for your family to react badly and ask you to leave your home, then a plan can be very important. Think about how you can get out of the house if you need to, speak to a friend or a supportive person about staying with them if you need to or contact The Albert Kennedy Trust as they can arrange a temporary/permanent place for you to stay.
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