Out Role Models – Thank you!

2017 has been a year of Coming OUT! What a fabulous time to be LGBTQI where we have so many role models, people like ourselves living successfully and happily. Gone are the days when we had no one to look at and think ‘wow they are just like me’.

All these people in the media who we can connect with help so many young people to come to terms with being LGBTQI. They help us find out who we are, be our true selves and to be brave when deciding to share who we are to our friends and families. You should spend a bit of time checking out these famous Out role models; not only are they a diverse bunch but they are actively standing up for what they believe in.

SHANNON PURSER– The ‘Stranger Things’ actress came out as Bisexual. She noted that it was a difficult time for her and she was still trying to get to grips with her sexuality. Honest approach to coming out, feelings shared with many of us.

TAYLOR BENNETT– Younger brother to ‘Chance the Rapper’, Taylor is also Bisexual and spoke out about this struggles with his sexuality as a young black man. Another person showing bravery to help others with their feelings.

JAKE ZYRUS – Coming out as a transgender man was ‘surreal’ said the GLEE singer from the US. He came out on social media by a name change and it went on from there. He spoke of how is culture did not agree with his decisions and that his relationship with his family was strained. He is doing great work helping other trans people fight for equality.

RYAN O’CALLAGHAN – A Big, strong, butch guy playing in the NFL… nobody would think he was gay!? Ryan, now an ex-NFL football player came out after years of hiding, drug abuse and almost killing himself. He tried to use football as a way of keeping his secrets and it nearly killed him. He has since spoken openly about being gay and now shows support to other LGBTQ sports people.

TEDDY QUINLIVAN – Model and trans activist Teddy is trying to break the stigma of what is it to be a trans woman. She uses her platform to change peoples perceptions on transgender issues and to fight for equality. Her visibility is helping make changes for trans people today.

MARK FOSTER –  ‘Telling half-truths’ is the way mark described how he lived his life as an international swim athlete for years. Mark just spent his career keeping his sexuality hidden from the camera’s but now speaks openly about being a gay man. He has also spoken about how it is very difficult as a sports star to come out and the fears that it would ruin careers.

There are some common themes around all of these Coming Out stories and the stories of others this year… every one of these people kept their secrets too long, it damaged them and affected their lives with their families and friends. We are lucky now to have lots of role models, people we can talk to to support Coming Out. There is a real fear still for some people; what will happen if I come out? Will people treat me differently? Will my family still love me? Many professional male footballers MUST be gay but not one of them feels that they can come out. It is sad for them that they feel they have to hide, even from their most loyal fans.

So remember, if you do feel it is the right time for you to come out, look to these role models & any other people you know that can help you get through the difficult times. The LGBTQI community is a supportive one!

What can we do to help you?

Dear readers & followers (you may be both!),

We found it very rewarding and so interesting reading the responses from the last survey. It made us realise that there is still so much more to do. Great strides have been made, especially here in the UK, as we can be Out and generally (most of the time) be safe. From what you have said there are lots of things that you would like to see happen in order to make things better for you and for you to have more to look forwards to, to enjoy!

We can fully understand that there are not a lot of things for Young LGBTQ people to do to meet up, hang out and to just be around others that are like you. Events are generally aimed at adults and not necessarily Young People. From the survey you have pointed out to us what you would like to see more of, here are a few;

* Make Youth support groups are obvious – in a local way

* More visible support in schools and colleges

* To stop stereotyping – we can only try to do this ourselves and stand up to anything we hear that is negative

* To have more support groups for Young LGBTQI people

* To be provided with more accurate Sexuality and Sex Ed in school for LGBTQ not just straight Sex ed.

* To provide information on all gender types/sexualities – a better spectrum of information to be available

* Schools need to be better at making people feel at ease about what “normal” is

* Friendly and fun events for Young LGBTQ people to meet and share their experiences together

* More events that cater for younger LGBTQ people not just adults.

So as you can see you guys have some great ideas about how we can add to the enjoyment and quality for life for you. These things can only happen if you support them and also get involved in promoting them, using the services that are there for you and being visible yourselves. Thank you in advance for your support and for being YOU!

xx The Outing xx

A bit about Coming Out.

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“Coming out” is an ongoing process through which the young LGBTQ person accepts their sexual orientation and/or gender identity as part of their overall identity. It involves a process of self acceptance and sharing this identity with others. There is a substantial period in a young person’s life when they are struggling to come to terms with their sexual or gender identity. These years can be especially challenging for LGBTQ young people because of their extra emotional dependency on their families, friends and those in school at this time of their lives.

Research has indicated that the average age when a young person realises that they are LGBTQ is 12 and that the average age when they tell anyone else (usually a friend) is 17, i.e. there are approximately five years between a young person knowing that they are LGBTQ and telling someone else. This period corresponds with most of YOUR teenage experience. During this time, young people have reported feeling invisible, feeling terrified of being ‘found out’ and being treated in a negative manner. This is an awful way to feel on a daily bases. Is this you? It’s important for you to know that most people who do come out lead happy and full lives.

The key to letting a young person know that they are safe at this time is to ensure that any project or supporting person is visibly LGBTQ friendly and that it’s open and prepared for a young person to come out to them.

You can Come Out if you are SAFE!

What young people have said about Coming Out;

“It can be difficult at times but it is also a learning experience”
“Something positive”
“Coming-out as who you are”
“Expressing one of many aspects of who you are”
“Something you should not be pushed into”
“People’s comments can be difficult to deal with”, “Bravest thing that I have ever done”

Everyone’s experiences will be different!

TIMING
Although for many people there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time to come out, planning exactly when you are going to tell someone is well worth thinking about. Are you going to have adequate time afterwards to discuss it further or to answer any questions the person may have? Will you have
the full attention of the person or are they pre-occupied with something else?

What if you get bullied?

Firstly, name the behaviour as homophobic, biphobic or transphobic. Then you could continue with:

“I feel uncomfortable with jokes like that/that kind of labelling.”

“As far as I’m concerned we are all entitled to more respect than that.”

“You know, LGBT young people are coming to this event, and we want to make them feel welcome and equal.”

“If that was aimed at me or my friends, I wouldn’t have it. Keep it to yourself.”

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I’m shocked to hear views like that expressed here where we are all expected to support equality. And, I disagree with your view.”

“I’m worried that comments and attitudes like that can have a terrible impact on LGBT young people, maybe we need to have training on LGBT issues.”

So why come out?

“To be honest with yourself and others”
“Finding your real self”
“To stop living a lie”
“It is a release”
“To live your own life”
“It strengthens your character”

Useful support links (just a few);

www.stonewall.org.uk

www.llgs.org.uk

www.lgf.org.uk

I hope that this is useful – The Outing xx

#ComingOut #Gayisokay #Lesbian #HappyOut #TheOutingProject #Gay #LGBT #Stonewall #Out #YoungPeopleOut #GayOut

First interview with Vada Magazine

Our very first interview was with @vadamagazine on ‘What’s it all about?’… Take a look!

The Outing Project is an educational yet fun look into people’s lives who are out and #HappyOut. For me being #HappyOut makes me who I am and if I can help a young person deal with this, see that it’s all good in the end, then my project will be successful. Twitter, this site and hopefully some film will be the end product.

When did the journey for The Outing Project begin?

The idea for The Outing Project began nearly two years ago. I work with lots of young people and was witness to someone who was going through the coming out process. I saw the changes in behavior, stresses and anxieties, and I felt powerless to help. I really felt that I could have and should have done more for them. At the time I tried to be supportive and realised that some young people don’t have this support – they don’t have someone they can talk to about being gay or coming out. So I decided to put the Project into motion and do something for anyone who feels like they don’t know what to do or who to talk to. I think as a young person today the media puts huge pressures on them to be a certain way. They can be consumed by what the media thinks and says, what their friends think. I feel it’s important for them to know that it’s ok to be different and that there are people who understand them and there is support out there.

What message do you want to give to the LGBTQ community and do you hope this project will achieve?

The main idea for the project is to make a film for LGBTQ young people about how others came to realise they were LGBTQ, how they felt at the time, and how they went about coming out to those around them. I want to get real people, just like them, to share their stories so they can see that yes, it’s hard; yes, it can be an emotional process and sometimes people don’t understand you; but that it’s okay to be gay, bi or anything else. I want them to see that to accept themselves and who they are, it’s the first step to feeling happy.

The Outing Project will hopefully get these messages across and be a starting point for anyone who is confused about their sexuality. Every day we see young people struggle with their sexuality and I want them to realise that they are worth something. We want them to be confident within themselves and understand that being different to their friends is actually a fine thing!

We are London-based and there is already a great hub for LGB people here. It’s a really huge network to be in which is proving helpful. When I get to the filming stage I think London will be such an exciting area to get people involved.

What has this project taught you? Where there any particular obstacles that the project had to overcome?

There is so much to be learnt through The Project. It started with a small idea, but putting it into action has been huge. The LGBTQ support has been great, people have been really positive, and I have been given lots of ideas from others who have more experience in the media side of things. I’m surprised at how quickly things move forward so I’m really excited about taking it to the next level.

The Twitter account is popular and growing which is great for asking for help and giving advice. I’ve started getting written coming out stories for the web launch, as I’d like to have a collection of items for people to read first. I’m really keen to have stories from all kinds of people from different social and cultural backgrounds. This is important for me as I think young people sometimes can get tied up in their own worlds – acceptance of all kinds is part of the process.

I remember as a kid that sometimes I wasn’t really aware of a bigger picture. The greatest challenge so far has been the time and money aspect of the project. While at work it’s hard to find the time to give it the attention it needs, but I’m getting there. My media and IT skills are also coming along. I’m learning as I go and using lots of people for tips. Once the website is up and running then I think it will be easier to get people to commit to being involved in a film. Eventually I want to hold an event where anyone who wants to tell their story in person can come along and I can then use these stories to piece the film together. It’s really interesting reading the ones I’ve got so far – lots of different experiences and methods of coming out.

Where do you see this project going for the future?

In the near future this website up and running with real people’s stories, merchandising which includes t shirts with the logo and slogan for the project. Remember to follow the Outing Project on Twitter for the latest updates! If more people want to email me their stories too that would be super as the more I have for the website the better it will look.

How would you sum The Outing Project up?

To sum it all up being ‘Happy Out’ is the basis of the project, loving life, loving yourself and who you are is the most important thing if you want to move forward. I really want Young People to know that they are not alone. It’s okay to be different and that being gay is not something they should fear. It’s not wrong and they have done nothing wrong. Helping them realise that and to feel supported would be awesome.

What Young People said about Coming Out!

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Coming Out is a daunting process, some people choose to tell a few people, others don’t tell anyone and some shout it from the roof tops! Whatever you choose to do remember that you are not alone. I have collected a number of survey responses from Young Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual people who have very bravely shared their views and experiences from Coming Out. This will hopefully get you to realise that you are no different from lots of people, you feel the same as lots of people around you and that being LGB is something to embrace. Take a look…

65% of the people that took the survey were 15-19 years of age, the rest were 20+ which gives us a good mix of experiences and points of views, although 80% were female responses. The most striking thing about the age ranges was that 90% responses said that they realised that they were Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or still unsure in their teens, all between the ages of 11-19. A small proportion of you felt that you knew you were different at a much younger age, 5 or 6. This just goes to show that in your teens there is a lot of change going on and questions are being raised about how you feel and what you like. It’s really important that you know that it’s not JUST YOU going through that.

The following are the some of the reasons you gave for feeling that you were different, LGB;

* “Never interested in guys, found girls cute”

* “I liked girls instead of guys”

* “I thought my teacher was hot”

* “I had a crush on a girl for 2 years”

* “I liked boys!”

* “I had a crush on boys not girls in school”

* ” suppose I have always known, there was nothing in particular, I just wasn’t like all my friends”

* “I was attracted to someone of the same sex and it was all I thought about”

Many of you reading this will find these responses familiar, you feel like this too or have done. Sometimes it’s a daunting process to realise that you do have feelings for someone of the same sex but it’s not wrong, it’s not uncommon and it may be right for you. Unfortunately 80% of responses said that they tried really hard to ignore those feeling, tried to hide them away. The reasons for this were fear, fear of people knowing, rejection and being scared about having a more difficult life ahead. As a teenager knowing that your are LGB is, of course, something that may be scary. You’re different to your friends, how will they act around you, will they still want to be your friend, will they think that you fancy them? These are all reasonable fears to have and need to shared with someone who can support and listen to you. Hiding away from how you feel is not an answer. Many of you said that you tried to hide these feelings because;

* “I just wanted to be normal”

* “I didn’t want to be different from my friends”

* “I was afraid of being ridiculed”

* “I didn’t want to be talked about at school”

* “I was from a religious family and being Gay was not accepted”

* “I didn’t want it to be true”

As you can see there are many reasons why we ‘don’t want to be LGB’ as it can be challenging when you are growing up to be different and to accept yourself. The survey has also showed that hiding your feelings and not talking about how you feel with someone can be bad for your physical and mental health. A massive 45% of you told me that you have tried to self harm as a result of being unhappy with yourself or from being confused about your sexuality. Feeling support around you on a daily basis is really important as it can help you to not feel alone. 45% of you said that you have had or do have some people around you that are LGB which is a help, those of you who said that you had no one were more likely to suffer both mentally and physically.

Being brave and taking that first step to speak to someone is so important, even if you’re not sure about what you like and don’t like, sharing and asking the questions you have can be a massive help to you. It was very clear from your responses that many of you didn’t feel able to talk because you didn’t know who to go to. 55% of said that you did not have anyone to go to and that you felt alone because of this. Others said you had one or two people that you could go to but it took ages to pluck up the courage to say anything. 30% of you felt that YES you had someone to go to either at home or in school/college that you could go to for help or advice!

55% of you felt that you were not ready to Come Out because of the fear of everyone knowing; friends, family, anyone… Just the thought of it was so frightening. This is not uncommon either, it’s ok to feel this way because it’s the people closest to you that you don’t want to disappoint. They are the ones that matter to you so telling them you are different is a HUGE CHALLENGE. Changing people’s perceptions of what being LGB is what is necessary, it’s not  a thing to be ashamed of and it certainly doesn’t make you less of a person.

The last part of the survey was to find out from YOU what you wanted to change, what you would say to someone like you? What would you recommend to a teenager like you who was feeling the same way that you did? Here is what you said;

“Take your time, hold on and don’t rush it”

“Don’t care what other people think, it’s not their life to lead”

“DO IT, You’ll feel much better afterwards!”

“You won’t know until you try”

“Just be yourself and be happy”

“Don’t come out until you are happy in yourself and only when you are safe to do so”

“If anyone reacts badly to you don’t listen to them as they are the ones with the problem”

“You’re probably over-thinking when your friends will say, they will love you for you”

“Find someone you can trust and confide in”

“It can be confusing but also exciting. Discover who you are at your own pace. Don’t be in a hurry to put a label on yourself”

“Tell someone sooner rather than later. Even if you don’t get the response you want it’s better than bottling things up”

“Trust me, it will be Ok”

They were just a  few of the brilliant pieces of advice that other LGB people wanted to share with us. Take this advice on board and it may help you to move forward. There have also been some important suggestions of what else can be done now to make things better for young LGBTQ people… I’ll share these things soon and hopefully try to put some of them into action. Thank you to all those who took the survey and it has given a great insight into how you all felt during those tough times. I can also see that you have got through it, you are more free, stronger and hopefully a more happy person because of it. Well done and THANK YOU!

The Outing xx

#LGBTQ #ComingOut #Lesbian #Out #Gay #Sexuality #Itgetsbetter