Coming Out as an LGBT+ Person of Faith
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As an LGBT+ person of faith, you may choose to come out and share your LGBT+ identity with your faith community, and you may also find you want to come out about your religious beliefs to your LGBT+ community. We have put together some tips to support you with both of these things.
Remember that you don’t have to come out until you feel safe and ready to do so. It is your choice when, where and how you come out. To find more on coming out about your sexual orientation or your gender identity, see our coming out pages.
- Coming out to your family/community when they don’t see your LGBT+ identity as compatible with your/their faith and traditions is really tough. First of all, make sure you’re safe before you choose to come out. Maybe there is a family member who you know will take it better, or who will make sure you’re protected. If not, you might be able to get a member of school/college staff, a youth worker, a religious leader or another adult you trust to be with you when you do it. They can help mediate between you and your family and prevent an emotional reaction they may later regret.
- Remember that what your family believe is not your fault. It’s easy to blame ourselves when others don’t accept us, but everyone makes their own choices as to what they believe, and we aren’t responsible for that. Likewise, don’t put pressure on yourself to change their beliefs. Many people in families and communities do change beliefs over time when someone comes out, but this process usually takes a while and is a journey they have to go on themselves.
- Finally, consider other places and people you can be with who can value and love you in the way that you, and all people, deserve. We aren’t going to pretend that all families and communities will come around and change how they think. The reality is that some LGBT+ people are rejected by family and communities when they come out and aren’t able to go back. That experience is incredibly painful and there are no words we could write that can make it hurt any less. Finding other communities is one way of replacing some of the things that people often get from their families – check out the trusted LGBT+ Faith Groups and discover where your nearest LGBT+ youth group is using our group finder. For many people, these communities cannot truly replace their family, and we don’t want to suggest that your family or communities are replaceable. What we do want you to know is that you are loved, that you are valued, and that no one deserves to be rejected on the basis of their LGBT+ identity. Being rejected because of this is never your fault.
Try to make things more comfortable in the place of worship you’re in.
- Who or what’s causing the problem? If there’s someone in authority there who you trust, try talking to them about the situation. They might be able to address the problem or change the way things are structured so that your needs are met. It might also be that over time, people just get their heads around it and stop bothering you.
If things aren’t getting better, or if you can’t put the time or energy into dealing with the problem, you could try finding a different place of worship.
- This can be easier said than done, however, we have signposted some trusted LGBT+ faith groups where you can try and find an inclusive place to worship for some traditions. If you’re not sure whether a new place is going to be okay with your LGBT+ identity, you could try emailing them to ask. It’ll remind them that it’s important to make it obvious if they are inclusive, and you’ll know whether it’s safe to go before even setting foot inside. You can create an anonymous email address if you’re worried about them knowing who you are.
- Unfortunately, this is quite common. A lot of this happens because people rarely question those who make these comments, and people who have had no experience of a religious tradition often make lots of assumptions about them.
- Are there any group leaders or informal leaders you can speak to about the problem? Unless they are the ones making the comments, they should be able to address it and make sure you feel welcome. If you want to, you could share information with others about your traditions, bust some myths and show that LGBT+ identities and your faith can go hand in hand. It’s not your responsibility to educate everyone else about your faith though, and sometimes it can be easier to find another LGBT+ community that respects your faith and accepts you for who you are.