Coming out is where a person accepts to themselves their sexual orientation and wishes to share it with someone else. Coming out is a hugely important part in the life of anyone who identifies as LGBT. It can be difficult, especially if you are afraid of the reaction from your family or friends.
According to 'Shout: Research on the needs of young people who identify as... lesbian, gay, bisexual and or transgender' (YouthNet 2003) "the average age for men and women to realise they are LGBT is 12/13 years old... however, the average age they first tell someone else is 17/18 years of age." This shows that many LGBT people know their sexual orientation from a young age. It also shows how it can put a huge strain on young LGBT people, and how important it is to provide a service and space where they can be themselves, even if they aren't 'out' to family or friends.
Who shall I tell?
What shall I say?
What if they react badly?
What will coming out mean to me?
Ellen Friedrichs on About.com has the following advice for (young) people thinking of coming out:
Though coming out can be an amazing experience, it is important to think about your reasons for coming out before taking the plunge. Coming out at any age can be challenging, but because teenagers tend to live with their families, there are a few unique issues young people need to think about. Ask yourself:
Once you have thought through these questions, you might want to think about your reasons for coming out. Here are some good reasons to come out:
Here are some not so good reasons to come out:
If you think your reasons are good ones, you might decide that you are ready to come out. If not, it might seem like a better idea to hold off. Whatever you decide, make sure you have support. People coming out tend to have better experiences if they have someone they can rely on for help and understanding.
Ellen also has the following tips for "How to start a conversation about being LGBT":
Decide who you are going to tell and how. The conversation you have with mom and dad might not be the same one you have with your buddy, or even your sister.
Pick a location. Choose a neutral spot where you will feel comfortable. Somewhere public might be better than your best friend's room, or your mom's study.
Gauge how the person feels. You may know how the people in your life feel about LGBT issues, but you may not. If you don't, you might want to try to get a better sense.
Have a "feeler" conversation. Here are some sentence starters that can help you do so: "I was watching ________ movie, and the main character came out to his mom." "So what do you think about these gay marriage bans?" "Some kids at school started a Gay / Straight Alliance. I was thinking about joining."
Decide whether or not you still want to come out after the "feeler" conversation.
If you choose to come out you have a few options:
Just say it. "Mom, dad, I'm gay." Ease in. "Jim, I've been having feeling for other girls recently." Ask a question. "Aunt Flo, what would you say if I told you I was bisexual?"
Congratulate yourself. You just did something really hard and took a risk!
Remember, don't come out during an argument, when you (or the other person) is tired, upset or distracted!
Don't beat yourself up if the conversation doesn't go as anticipated.
Cut the person you are talking to some slack.This might be a big surprise for them, and it might take a little while for your news to sink in.
Don't come out before you're ready.
Try to identify at least one person who you think will be supportive about you coming out before you do so.
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