I was 15-years-old and told my mum first, and then the rest of family in one hit; like ripping off a plaster. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once. To feel free to say the words “I’m gay” out loud was one of the hardest yet most natural things in the world. I had to come out again publicly at 18 as someone was going to out me to the press. I thought coming out twice was tough, but I realise now that you never really stop coming out. Every new person you meet or new job you start. It’s endless. It never stops. But it does get easier to say, and it does get easier to celebrate.
- Daniel Brocklebank, actor
The first time I told someone about my sexuality was on the 1st of March 2012. It all occurred when I completely broke down both mentally and physically, not being able to carry on living the way I had been. My mum came into my bedroom, sat down with me and asked what was really wrong. I couldn't spit out the words - I wanted to but I physically couldn't. It was at this point that I decided that if I couldn't say the words I would write them down on a piece of paper. Three words that would change my life forever - I am gay. She read the words while I was shaking uncontrollably and fearing the worst would happen. "I'm so proud of you", she said and then gave me a huge hug; the most heartwarming and emotional hug I have ever experienced. I felt like the biggest weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I then jokingly said "Sorry mum but you've got a gay son", and we both laughed.
However, this wasn't the end of my journey as I still had school to contend with. The fear was growing because I knew I had to tell my mates one way or another and the last thing I wanted was for a rumour to spread and they find out that way.
The most pleasurable consequence of coming out is when people have the courage to come out to me. It is one of the most best experiences - being able to help someone going through exactly what I experienced, something that I never had at the time.
- Ryan | 19 | University Student | Bournemouth, England (Click here to read the full story)
I grew up in a small rural town on the east coast of Australia with a population of around 4000. Roughly half of which were in employment at the local abattoirs. It was a very masculine, misogynistic, typical Aussie bloke kind of environment, full of men and women who loved nothing more than drinking rum at the one pub in town. The highlight of the social calendar is the quarterly rodeo that happened at the local show ground. I was Vice Captain (Deputy Head Boy) and got good grades. I managed to navigate my way through the stormy seas of high school without a hitch. In that respect I was very lucky. The one aspect of my upbringing that would later prove to be a major hurdle regarding my sexuality was religion. My parents were born again Christians and when I say christian, I mean really really christian. We attended church every Sunday morning and evening, my mum lead worship and played the guitar in each service. We had bible study every Tuesday night and my parents ran the local church youth group. I was told that homosexuality was a mortal sin and was punishable by being sent to hell. Homosexuals were evil, perverted and, (according to a few members of the church that I ever braved the discussion of this subject with) were most probably peadophiles.
I always knew I was different in some way. But it wasn't until puberty started at around the age of 12 that I began to realise what it was. All my friends would be talking about girls in the changing rooms at school, and I was more interested in the boys telling the stories. I tried to force these thoughts from my mind, and pretended that I was just as into girls as any of them. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't banish these thoughts. I was panicking on the inside, believing that maybe god was just testing me and if I tried hard enough I could be straight. I honestly believed I could choose the life of a straight man. I remember reading stories of men who were gay but had found god and then suddenly they were straight and happily married with children and thought that I could achieve this to. This internal struggle continued for a couple of years, until the age of 14 when my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer. At that moment, I began to question everything I had ever been taught. How could a god that supposedly loved us all, his willing and loyal servants, not only make me gay, but also take my mother at the time when a teenager needs their parents more then ever. A few years later I graduated high school and moved away from Wingham and started at university. What an eye opener that was. I started meeting people in the LGBT community and began to realise there was a lot of us. I was not alone, and it was fabulous! People at university just accepted me for me and no one even cared that I was gay. I made new friends who supported and loved me through the drunken revelations and discussions about my sexuality. Before long, these drunken conversations, became sober ones. I had never felt better, or happier with who I was.
At 20 years of age, with a serious boyfriend and the fact that pretty much everyone else knew, I thought [coming out to my dad] was something I had to do. I will never forget the conversation. As I was attending university over 11 hours away, I had no choice but to do it over the phone. I called, then hung up, then I called again, and hung up again. This happened a couple more times, before I stopped and looked at myself in the mirror, gave myself a pep talk, and made the decision to commit to telling him. So, there on the phone, with my heart pounding in my chest, my mouth dry as the Sahara from nerves, I said those words that you can just never take back...."Dad, I'm Gay".
The reaction was exactly as I predicted, not good. My dad told me he was disgusted and he would never accept this, that It goes against the word of god, that my mum would be horrified and he would not have "that boy" I was seeing in our house. It was two weeks before my 21st birthday, he cancelled the party that he had organised for me and told me not to tell any of our relatives as he was embarrassed to have a gay son. Apart from everything that happened with my mum, this was the worst thing that had ever happened in my life. I had just been rejected by my last remaining parent. I was devastated.
Our relationship struggled for years. We barely spoke and didn't really have much to do with each other. My dad just could not get past the fact that homosexuality was against the word of god. I was, according to the minister of his church and the bible, going to hell.
- John | 28 | London, England | TV Presenter (Click here to read the full story)
Thinking back I remember my Dad asking me twice as a teenager if I was gay and I remember feeling so angry and disgusted that I wasn’t hiding myself well enough if my dad could tell.
One time I was food shopping with my dad on a Saturday morning. I must have been about 16. I don’t remember having any sort of attraction towards other guys until the age of about 15 so it was still very new to me at this point. I was pushing the trolley around the supermarket while my dad walked ahead with the shopping list, putting things into the trolley. I remember we were on the cosmetics aisle and my dad had walked ahead. I picked up some kind of feminine product and was reading the packaging. I think it was tinted moisturiser or something like that. At that point my dad turned around and saw what I was looking at and I quickly put it back like I’d just been caught with my hand in the money jar. I saw him frown at me and my whole face went red with embarrassment as I rushed ahead to catch up with him.
When we got home I was helping to unpack the shopping when my dad just blurted out, “Are you Gay?” In shock I just said, “No, why would you ask me that. God I can’t believe you would say that. Stuff off!” Or something along those lines!
- Michael | 32 | London, England (Click here to read the full story)
January 25th 2009 is a day that I'll always remember. That evening, I was laying in my bed, listening to music and thinking. I always knew that I was different from my brother and my guy friends. I never really enjoyed the same things that they did but there was one major difference - I was attracted to guys. Although this was a very 'normal' feeling for me, I was so scared to tell anyone.
At the time, I was dating a guy and I knew everyone would find out sooner or later. I didn't want to have to hide anything. After thinking for a while, I decided to just write a letter to explain how I felt. After I wrote the letter I asked a friend if I could stay the night with her. When she got to my house to pick me up, I left the letter in between the door...I knew my parents would see it in the morning.
I couldn't do anything that night but think and stress. I didn't sleep at all. When the sun came up, I wanted to go home and take the letter before they found it. It was too late for that though. That morning I received two text messages. One from my Dad that said, "I love you no matter what son", and another from my mom, "I love you, where are you?". Those messages meant so much to me. I started tearing up & just felt so much relief. It was overwhelming. What was at one time the worst feeling ever, suddenly became the best. I was still loved and accepted. I was finally "allowed" to be myself. I made this status because today is National Coming Out Day. Not many people know my story, so I decided to share a part of it. I usually wouldn't post something so personal, but I want people to know that its okay to be different.
- Ryan | 23 | Bernie, Missouri, USA (Click here to read the full story)
Source: RUComingOut, Real Life Coming Out Stories
Try never mentioning your spouse, your family, your home, your girlfriend or boyfriend to anyone you know or work with - just for one day. Take that photo off your desk at work, change the pronoun you use for your spouse to the opposite gender, guard everything you might say or do so that no one could know you’re straight, shut the door in your office if you have a personal conversation if it might come up. Try it. Now imagine doing it for a lifetime. It’s crippling; it warps your mind; it destroys your self-esteem.
— Andrew Sullivan, responding to Rich Lowry who said it’s no big deal to live hiding one’s sexual orientation.
Around age 14 I had become quite close to a boy who lived on the south coast. I would wait for him to come online every night to talk about music and our days at school, thinking of him as more than just a friend but also subconsciously ignoring what those feelings meant. Then one night he came out with it: “I’m bi.” Reading it, my heart started racing, and I suddenly typed: “Me too.” That was the moment I came out to myself.
Nothing ever happened with him, I was too geeky and nervous and it ended up being unrequited, as a lot of first loves are. What came after was many coming out moments. Starting with my online friends, onto real friends, then my family. When I came out to my mum, she told me it wasn’t the fact I’d taken her to a Tori Amos gig that twigged it for her, but the guy I’d been checking out throughout the gig – she was oblivious to Tori’s Big Gay Following. My dad took some time to adjust, but he soon told everyone at the local if they treated me any differently they’d have to deal with him. I am grateful to have parents who have been so accepting, and whose biggest gripe about it turned out to be who I chose to tell first. It was my Dad, for the record!
If you are planning to come out, questioning, or have concerns about your sexuality, stay strong and do it on your own time and don’t rush into it. Who, how, and when is your decision to make. Unfortunately, you never know how it will play out so it’s worth being cautious. Coming out is a process, one that you can take from one stage to the next when you’re comfortable to. Ensure people respect your privacy. If people react with shock or anger, remember that over time most people will adjust. My father wasn’t completely comfortable with my sexuality at first; now he’s my strongest ally. Don’t feel like you need to assign a label to yourself – during my coming out process I was questioning, but assumed I must be bi. In reality I was just learning about my own sexuality.
LGBT people never really stop coming out, but what can seem extremely daunting soon becomes second nature. Hopefully there will be a time where we stop assuming heterosexuality is ‘the default’ and questioning preference becomes unnecessary. For now, let’s use National Coming Out Day to celebrate LGBT people’s courage and show those who have not taken their first steps that it’s OK be your true self.
- Matthew Moore, stonewall.org.uk