This piece is about Coming Out but not from the point of view of the person telling but as they person/people hearing it for the first time. I’ve found it very interesting to hear from those of you who have had this experience. I feel that it is very important to share how it feels to be told by someone ‘I’m Gay’ or ‘I think I’m Gay’, ‘I might be Gay’, ‘I’m bisexual’… As I have experienced both side of this situation I think it’s important to let Young LGBTQ people know how it feels to be told. I have also asked the people I told first for their opinions on this to try and get a wider and clearer perspective. It may also help some of you to decide who and when to tell.
Everyone unfortunately has to tell someone at some point, not because we necessarily want to but we may have to or for others the time is right and who they select to tell is also very important. Sometimes you are asked and you have to respond. Many of us have lied in these given moments so having the perspective of the listener is invaluable. As the wonderful Ellen Page said ‘I was sick of lying by omission’…
I had a frank conversation about it all with my mother. I was told that they (my father and mother) felt is was easier for them because I just came Out and said it to them. I didn’t wait for years on end pretending to be someone I was not and they really seemed to appreciate that. They had other experiences with different people in their lives who were also gay but never told them that they were. They felt that this was more difficult as they had to guess, avoid, presume and manage situations without openly saying certain things. My mother also said she preferred my opening up to them as it was something that was important to me, it was something that was part of me and she was glad that I didn’t try to hide it. It was still a shock but I had given them time to work on it.
Whatever way they were going to deal with it all would come after, and this is different for everyone, but she was very clear that knowing was better. I think for a mother it’s always better to know about your child. Whatever they think of it or how they deal with it at least this can be done together in some way. I think they had time to work it out when I was working it all out too. I’m not saying it was all ‘Rosy in the Garden’ but it made me happier to be honest and it made my parents happier that I had trusted them with this information. In the long run I feel that it was good for our relationships.
I also asked the first few friends who I told how they felt about the ‘Coming Out Gate’. The general consensus was that Out was better! They all basically said they knew anyway so what was all the fuss about. Over time they too realised what was difficult about it, the whole life changing moment of saying it and it being real… At the time of it all they told me they had to deal with different situations too as a result of me being gay. So it’s not just about us. Everyones lives can be shook a little at first. People ask questions and make presumptions of your friends too, not just you. Unfortunately some people treat you differently. They can and did also treat my friends differently. At this point you realise who you actually want in your life for good. Hearing from my friends that they were glad that I had told them, they respected my decision to tell people and they also said that they thought I was brave. Seeing it first hand makes you think about your own life and the choices you make, so they told me.
Thankfully I too have been on the receiving end of some ‘Outings’. Many in fact. So if one of them was you; verbally, written, text, DM, tweet, email letter or a message THANK YOU. Thank you for being brave and thank you for sharing a piece of you with me. Having the ability to tell someone is hard, a difficult process because, as I said earlier, it becomes real. For me, when people took the time to tell me, to explain to me and to wait for the words to come afterwards, it was a great feeling of being trusted.
To be told a persons deepest, sometimes most mind whirling thoughts and feelings, is an honour. Because I’ve done it myself I can appreciate how it feels but it is different for everyone. Hearing someone say to me ‘I’m gay’ and being able to let that person know that it is okay is an uplifting experience. Even if that was just it, never said again or still confusing to think of it, that one time might have been helpful in some way. Coming out to someone then allows you to ask questions, experiment, look for advice! It’s also not set in stone, it’s not permanent if you don’t want it to be. Just knowing that for that second there was no negative reaction and actually it will be OKAY. Whatever happens next, I’VE DONE IT.
So if you are lucky enough to have someone to Come Out to you or to hint to you that they are confused about their sexuality remember this… Listen, don’t judge, tell them that it is OKAY to be gay/bisexual (or any of the other letters too LGBTQ) if that’s what they are feeling. Most of all encourage them to be themselves!
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