“Coming out” as gay is a personal choice and an important experience for most gay people in the United Kingdom. Almost all “out” members of the LGBT community in the UK have their own stories about how and why they came out. However, some people choose to remain “in the closet”. On the other hand, some people never have a “coming out” experience, because they feel that sexuality is an irrelevant detail which does not need to be publically discussed. So should you “come out” as gay?
Each individual should decide for themselves whether it is the right time to come out or not. They should also be allowed to decide who to come out to. Being “outed” by another person can be a degrading and upsetting incident, because it removes your right to self-determination. In fact, in some circumstances, publically “outing” a person could actually be considered as a hate crime and may become a police matter!
Coming out can be a very positive experience, because it means that you don’t have to hide who you are anymore. Being open about your sexuality will allow you to live the lifestyle that you want without having to worry about people finding out or speculating. Research has shown that people who feel the need to hide their sexuality are more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. Opening up about your sexuality can be a weight off of your mind.
On the other hand, coming out can be difficult and stressful in its own right. You should be prepared for some people to behave differently around you once you have come out. Some people might not even realise that they have changed their behaviour, whereas others may act with intentional prejudice.
Coming Out To Friends And Family
Coming out to friends and coming out to family can put a strain on some pre-existing relationships. Being openly gay can also affect the way that strangers treat you. In the United Kingdom, gay people are still slightly more likely to be victims of violent crime than straight people are. However, the law currently allows for stronger sentencing if homophobic intent can be proven. Nonetheless, some gay people choose not to come out because they are concerned about becoming the target of homophobic prejudice.
A small number of openly gay people in the UK still report that people have tried to “cure” them. Being gay is not a disease or an illness and therefore there is no cure. There is nothing wrong with being gay, so you should not let people convince you that there is any need to be “converted” or “cured”. Some people choose not to come out to everyone, because they do not want to be treated as though they are unwell.
Some people also choose to remain “in the closet” because they still feel uncertain about their sexuality. They do not wish to disclose their sexuality to other people, until they are surer about their feelings. If you do not feel ready to discuss your sexuality with other people, you can wait until you do feel ready. You can also “come out” to a few trusted people, so that they can support you and help you to understand your feelings. If you want to talk about your sexuality with someone who you don’t know, there are plenty of charities in the UK which offer support to people who want help or advice.
Coming out to your family can be very difficult, especially if you know that they might not be happy with the news. It is therefore important that you pick the right time to tell them. It is a good idea to pick a time where you are in control of the situation. Although you might feel like shouting it at them during a row, this may mean that your parents associate the news with an unhappy time. They may even feel as though you are revealing your sexuality as a way to punish them.
Try to anticipate how they will react and be prepared with how you might respond to what they do. If you prepare yourself for the types of questions that they might ask you, then you will be able to answer them more easily. Some family members may be angry about the news. Try to remain calm and try to diffuse the situation where possible. If the anger escalates further, you should take steps to exit the conversation. Giving them some space can help them to come to terms with your news.
Your safety is the most important thing. If there is ever an extreme reaction or if you feel threatened, make sure that you take steps to stay safe. There are plenty of LGBT charities in the UK that can help people who are struggling to come out to their parents.