Let’s Talk About Coming Out

The worst part of being gay?

Coming out.

Why can’t I just bring a girl home the same way a straight girl would a boy? Unfortunately, no matter how ridiculous it seems, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community you’ll almost certainly “come out” at some point. You’ll almost certainly do it repeatedly with different people.  And you’ll almost certainly feel afraid at some point through this ordeal. 

Whatever happens though, and no matter how awful it feels, you are never alone. You don’t have to tell everyone at once. It doesn’t have to be a massive life-altering event. You don’t have to “come-out” just because someone else wants you to. It’s your life. 

I told my best friend first in a massive essay-like paragraph on Instagram when I was fourteen and threw up when I saw the ‘read’ icon out of fear of what she’d say. 

Her response? 

“Oh my god same.”

We laughed all night and I felt the biggest weight lift off my shoulders. As I went into year 10 I told other close friends and they just didn’t care. In fact, for most of them it was an explanation for my lack of engagement when they spoke about boys. 

When starting college, I pledged to not hide my sexuality and again, no one cared. I guess I got lucky in terms of friends; they’re fantastic. All of them.

Family is another story, and one that I can’t tell you the ending of yet. I’m taking my time in that regard; I like to think I’ll know when I’m ready. I know that isn’t yet. If there’s anything you take from this just know you don’t have to do anything until YOU are ready.

And for God’s sake, if someone comes out to you DO NOT respond like this:

  • “It’s just a phase!”

This was my Mums response when she snooped through my diary when I was fourteen and read all my “I think I might be gay” things. Somehow or other, this is still my Mums response now- (we’re getting onto a five-year ‘phase’ and still counting). It’s something we never talk about. It’s something we never even mention. Yet we both know my sexuality is circling us like that damned crocodile circles Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

  •  “How do you know you’re gay if you’ve never been with a boy?”

This is the most irritating. The minute I hear the “how…” I know what’s coming. Tell me sweetheart, how do you know you’re straight if you’ve never been with another girl? Please, just listen. It’s probably taken so much courage for someone to tell you this. Don’t knock them straight back down. If someone tells you they are gay, they are gay. End of story.

Are you ready for the worst one?

  • Anything with the word ‘choice’.

I can promise you I didn’t choose to be this way. None of us chose to be this way. Why would anyone make a choice this difficult? I spent so many years trying to fit in. Trying to like boys. Trying to be straight. I couldn’t do it. I was so unhappy; it was the lowest point in my life. Admitting that I like girls, and allowing myself to fall for them, was my first step in feeling better.

Know it is not a choice. Please.

And if you’re reading this because YOU feel ready to come out, then these are probably my top three tips from my experiences:

  • Tell the person you expect to be the most accepting first; this will give you someone to talk to.
  • Ensure you’re safe if for some reason you get a negative response.
  • Give people time; it probably took you time to accept yourself. It took me years! It will take them time too. This is okay.

And no matter what you are not on your own and you are not in the wrong. There will be people out there who accept and love you for who you are. You will find them.

You will be okay. 

Maybe one day we won’t have to “come out”.

Hannah Mulcahy