National Coming Out Day is an annual awareness day where the LGBTQIA+ community can celebrate coming out. I’ve always found coming out a strange topic because for many in the LGBTQIA+ community we have to ‘come out’ most days. An example of this is starting a new job. When you start a new job you are meeting new people, and if these people aren’t open themselves about their sexuality or gender, you then have to judge what their reaction is going to be. The same with any time you meet someone new (unless it's in an LGBTQIA+ safe space). Gender and sexuality are fluid, and often we actually may feel like we fit with something different to what we originally thought. Coming out is scary, and it’s something that I wish we didn’t have to do. I always say when I have kids, I want to give them a space to be whoever they want to be, to be in love (or not in love) with whoever they like.
The first person I came out to were my friends, and this is because they were also queer, and I knew that if I told them I think I might be bisexual, they would be excited, which they were and ended up going for drinks and celebrating. I didn’t come out to my family for another 3 years, mainly because I wasn’t 100% sure if I was bi and I was also so scared about what they were going to say. I actually texted my dad, the night after I event managed and helped plan Bath Spa University’s Pride saying, ‘by the way I’m bisexual' and his response was ‘that’s cool mate, as long as you’re happy’. After getting this response I knew I was safe to speak to the rest of my family. The best coming out story was after I told my nan, whose response was ‘oooo Meg you swing both ways darling’, there’s me shaking and almost close to tears, and then she says that!
I know this story comes with privilege, and I am so lucky that all members of my family and friends have accepted me and accepted my wonderful girlfriend too. This isn’t the case for some members of our community. This is why days like this are so important because we want to spread awareness of how scary it can be, how important it is to our community, and how much time and headspace someone goes through to figure out who they are. So I have a couple of tips…
If someone comes out to you, or they want to talk to you about their sexuality or gender:
- Respect them, listen to them, say thank you so much for telling me this.
- If they tell you what their new name and pronouns are, listen. Use those pronouns and a new name, correct people who get it wrong, and respect them, it’s their life and their identity.
- If someone decides that they are a different gender, or identify with a different sexuality, that’s okay. Sexuality and gender are fluid and again, listen and respect their choices.
For anyone out there who wants to come out, and for all the LGBTQIA+ community:
- Remember there is a whole community who are here for you, my emails or messages are always open if you need someone to chat it through with.
- There isn’t any rush, this is none of anybody else’s business but your own, and you don’t have to make a big deal of ‘coming out’, just do what feels comfortable for you.
- If you have decided to come out, then tell someone you trust first.
- There are loads of helplines that can support if you need to talk to someone, including:
- LGBT Switchboard- 0300 330 0630(10am-10pm daily).
- MindLine Trans+ -0300 330 5468
- Always remember how incredible you are.
In summary, days like this are so important. They are important because many of our communities still face homophobia, transphobia or other forms of discrimination every day. So the more we shout about our lived experience the more allies we have on our side.