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
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