Your coming out stories #2

I was 19.

“A Tuesday afternoon in October. I was on the way to college. I still remember the sweat beating down my back as I stood outside the black iron gates of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

My mum would ring me and simply as the question “are you gay?” It was as easy as that. My mother asked and did the hard work for me. She would later out me to my sister in Australia, my grandmother, grandfather, aunties, her best friends and the local parish before I got home from college that weekend.

At the time I was furious, I felt it was my story to tell. But now it’s a funny story to tell on the first date over a pint or two.” – Dave

“I was 16 and in love for the first time.

I was very scared of my feelings but the girl I was in love with confessed her love for me and I told her how I felt, too. We decided to be girlfriends but take it really slow.

We would kiss goodbye secretly in the girls’ bathroom after school. We spent the whole summer together when it was almost time to go back to school we decided we would be open about our relationship at school.

Unfortunately, she was also putting a lot of pressure on me to come out to my parents, I did tell my parents eventually but not because I was ready, more because I was scared of losing her if I didn’t.

My friends at school took it very well even though it was a shock for them they were very accepting. My parents took it harshly, my mother cried a lot and told me a lot of hurtful things. My father told me as long as I am happy he is happy. Other members of my family (aunts, grandma, cousin) don’t know.

To this day (I’m 20 now) my parents still vocalise their wish for me to get married to a man.” – Yasmine

“It wasn’t until I was 21 that I discovered the word ‘asexual’.

Before then I’d constantly put off thinking about sex and relationships because whilst I was pretty certain that I was attracted to both men and women, I was attracted to them in different ways and neither of them sexual so my thoughts and feelings were really confused as they didn’t fit into the ‘traditional’ boxes of homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual.

As soon as I found the words to describe myself, I was so frustrated that I’d not come across them sooner, I was instantly keen on coming out, particularly to try and prevent others going through so many years of confusion as I had done.

I first came out online to a friend who was a trans woman who had transitioned during the time I’d known her – very accepting as expected. The second time I came out was in the last pub of a pub crawl (not something I would recommend).

By the age of 21, my friends were certainly starting to suspect that I wasn’t straight. All afternoon they pestered/encouraged me in somewhat subtle ways as we went from pub to pub to be more open with them about my sexuality. During a drinking game in the final pub, I announced it to our whole group, broke down in tears and the rest of that evening is a complete blur!

The next time I came out publicly was in my manifesto campaigning to be a full-time elected student officer at my university. As soon as my campaign went live, I knew that I’d be out to the world and couldn’t control any more who knew or didn’t know as thousands of students, as well as friends and family, would read it. It was exciting but also scary to go so quickly from not even having the words to describe my sexuality to campaigning for better inclusion and awareness of ‘non-traditional’ LGBT+ identities.

During the time I came out, I often heard the phrase ‘there’s no right/wrong way to come out’ but I definitely wouldn’t advise coming out the way I did. I particularly regret not having a 1 on 1 conversation with family members before coming out publicly. Whilst I was concerned that they would dismiss it as a phase, considering I’d only just discovered the language needed to explain and express my thoughts and feelings, I also incorrectly assumed that they would bring my sexuality up in conversation. Instead, it’s become a taboo subject that we have never talked about.

I don’t know whether they are accepting or even how much they understand (I hate when people don’t ask questions!) and so it’s contributed to the reasons we have grown apart. Anything to do with my dating life or relationships is avoided in family conversations, even though it’s a significant part of my life.

It’s now something I’m planning to directly raise with them as something we must talk about next time we’re in the same room so that I don’t feel so neglected.

With everyone else, I’m living my best life and 100% openly and genuinely me but, at the moment, with my family, I feel like I end up being forced back into the hiding my real self.” – Matt

I had already come out to my friends for two years when my mother found out I was on a trip with my boyfriend.

I was 22 I had just returned from my studies back to my parents home so I could reorganise and go on. After the trip, I had with my boyfriend my mother asked me to explain myself since she found his Facebook account and figured out we were there together. I had to fight with my mother and father for almost a year until I went to the army to let everyone breath out this weird unending situation. I’m 27 now and my family still can’t accept that I’m gay. It might be a really hard situation for all of us but I would never take it back. I hated living with lies and the freedom that I enjoy now tastes really good. My only advice to anyone thinking of coming out is to come out only when you feel safe and that most of the time things get better. – @tazbones on Instagram

“A night with my close high school friend on the phone…

A telephone conversation lasting more than 4 hours… And a big relaxation in the end and a relief brought by the fact that somebody in the world now knew how you feel and your real identity…”

“I’m assuming by “coming out” you mean the first time and first person one has come out to? Because we all come out more than once in our lifetime – it’s an ongoing process to ourselves and others. So if you mean first time to another person then here is the story…

I was watching an episode of Phil Donahue with my mother when I was 10 years old. The show focused on bisexual people and I was very confused. I was aware and close to people who were gay and lesbian but did not know anything about bisexuality.

I asked my mom how this was possible and she said, “What is so hard to understand? I have told you your whole life that you can love anyone regardless of their religion, skin colour, etc. And this is no different. Bisexuality is loving people for who they are and not what they are and it is beautiful.”

And just like that, I had a word to describe how I had always felt. So I told her I was bisexual and she said so am I. It was a life-defining and beautiful moment.” – Markie Twist. @Dr_Markie_Twist

“I was 15 to 17 in the 1970s.

My parents dealt badly but came around. School was a nightmare. I’ve always been out at work. I was just who I was in a very matter of fact way. I think I might have held back in environments I knew weren’t safe like my high school at the time, but no regrets.

Come out in your own time on your own terms. It’s about you and your expression of who you are.” – Brian Madigan

“I came out many years ago and my friends were supportive but my family were not.

But coming out does not destroy your family relationships. If you do not come out these relationships will sour anyway because they will not be based on truth.

Coming out is not a once and for all experience. you have to keep doing it continually” – john

“I came out at 14.

I was with my girlfriend for 2 months and I felt so much pressure and stress because I hide it to my parents for this long and I couldn’t bear to hide it anymore.

I also said to my best friends the day I began to be a couple with the girl because I didn’t want to hide it and I was so happy about it. Everyone had a positive attitude about it. Even though my father was colder than my mother, they were both okay with it.

I would recommend waiting for the moment that feels right and to do it first to the people you know they are going to be okay with it to have a safe space to go if it doesn’t go well with your family for example. Also, try to understand that your family or friends need to process it.” – Ludi

“I’m a very open person, and “oversharing” should be my middle name.

I was getting into a serious relationship with my girlfriend and realised it was only a matter of time before I slipped up and revealed this part of my life in a negative way.

I told my mother over the phone, sitting after a long workday in Merrion Square. She had always been vocally grossed out by lesbians on television, so when I told her, and she went silent, my chest felt like it was going to burst.

She told me she needed time to get used to it, and the next day, when I rang her, she was back to her sunny self. I told my dad two weeks later. “I know,” he snorted, “it’s the 21st century, I have facebook.”

It took me another five years before I could be ‘out’ in work. My job at the time was a toxic atmosphere, and it felt easier to just never talk about my personal life than to give people a weapon to use against me. When I moved to my next job, I was disappointed to find another environment that was the same.

When the time came to change career again, I made up my mind: I would find a way to mention it in interviews. If my new employers weren’t okay with it, I was bringing it up in a safe environment, where they couldn’t say anything about it, and they could just politely not give me the job afterwards. An HR minefield? Sure, but I needed to be able to feel safe, happy and comfortable in work.

When I interviewed for my current job in Accenture, and I was asked why I wanted to work there, one of the things I mentioned was that it had a famously LGBT-positive work culture and my TL not only responded positively but gave me a lot of great information. My move to Accenture was actually the last part of my life where I became fully ‘out’ to everyone.” – Kitty Burnell

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