As an LGBT person, not only do you have to come out over and over again, but you often also end up telling your ‘coming out story’ many, many times.
I don’t know about other people, but I’ve got to the stage with mine where I’ve whittled it, honed, it and streamlined it down to the bare essentials (or five ‘key’ stages):
1. Looking back, I always knew I was ‘different’ from many others around me
2. I became close friends with someone who was out and proud in my workplace
Who I started to look up to as a role model – essential.
3. I witnessed a best friend have a same-sex relationship which our whole social circle received with a mix of warmth, excitement or total indifference
Not the shock, horror or disgust I was secretly scared of – reassuring.
4. I admitted to myself that, at the grand old age of 24, the stonking great crush I had on the girl on the desk opposite me wasn’t a ‘teenage thing’ that I’d grow out of
And it wasn’t that I wanted to be her or be best friends with her – I wanted to date her.
5. I started by telling my immediate friends, worked my way up to telling my sister over a pizza one night, and peaked with telling my parents on Mother’s Day weekend
“Happy Mother’s Day Maureen – I fancy girls!”
A huge part of my coming out process and something which underpinned all of the above was the support I received from one of my very best friends, who was the most amazing straight ally I could have hoped for.
Not only was she on-hand to listen when I first started to share the truth about my feelings for the girl at work, and my feelings about women in general, but she became my ‘Soho scene sister’ (there was a scene in Soho in those days!).
Tash came with me to a whole variety of LGBT spaces, giving me pep talks in queues before we went in and helping me chat to, dance with and ultimately, make friends with, other LGBT people.
She never questioned this whole new side of me, which was completely different to the places we’d gone to and who I’d been attracted to (or thought I’d been attracted to) in the past.
She was just there. For me, with me, literally next to me.
Tash’s support and actions are a great example of how to #ComeOutForLGBT, and be an active ally that positively impacts the LGBT community, whether for one person or more broadly for all of us.
If you’re a teacher, you can ensure your lessons are inclusive of all identities; if you’re in sport, make sure you’re not using homophobic ‘banter’ in the locker rooms. Or if you’re just a person, who knows another person who is or might be LGBT, just check in and see how they’re doing.
I was incredibly fortunate with my coming out and how it was received, and obviously, this isn’t the case for so many people both in the UK and abroad.
The level of support I received from my friend is just one of many reasons why I want to make sure I #ComeOutForLGBT too, as an ally to other people within my community.
I want to make sure I #ComeOutForLGBT too, as an ally to other people within my community.
#NationalComingOutDay is a better time than ever to reflect on this, and what you can do to help make the lives of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people that bit better.
And if you’re not yet out yourself, and are thinking about it, there are many different ways to come out. There’s no right or wrong, and you should always find a way that feels right for you.
Check out our resources below for more and Happy National Coming Out Day 2017!