“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”
“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!
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);
I hope that this is useful – The Outing xx
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