Healthy lives for young people
Gender, Sexuality

Advice on coming out

‘Coming out’ is when someone tells someone else about their LGBTQ+ identity. Find out our top tips on coming out to people. 

There is no right or wrong way to come out, and each person’s ‘coming out’ journey will be unique to them.  

For some people, coming out is a pleasant and comfortable process of sharing an aspect of their identity with their loved ones. For others it can be scary or stressful and may come with risk.  

Some people choose not to ‘come out’ at all, which might be because they don’t feel the need to, or because they don’t feel safe to.  

If you’re nervous about coming out

Not everyone feels nervous about coming out but if you do, here are two things that might be comforting to bear in mind: 

  • It can be an amazing relief to have talked about your sexuality to people you care about, and who care about you.  
  • You are not the only person going through this process. So many people have been through, or are going through, the same thing and there is a huge amount of information and support out there to assist you in planning what to say and how to say it, as well as to deal with people’s reactions, whatever they may be. 

Coming out is a journey

Some people might experience coming out as a one-off event, but for most people it is an ongoing process, perhaps as they meet new people or their understanding of their identity changes and develops.  

How to tell your loved ones

There are no rules to coming out and only you will know what is right for you. The most important thing is that you are safe and have support, whether that is from friends, family, or a trusted adult like a teacher or counsellor.  

However, there are some things it might be helpful to consider if you are thinking of coming out, whether in general or to a particular person.  

  • Consider carefully who you want to talk to about your identity first. This might be a friend or family member who you trust to be supportive, or it might be a trusted adult who you don’t have such a personal connection to. That first conversation can be a great way to experience how it feels to talk about your identity with someone new. Also, that person can then support you as you come out to other people in your life.  
  • Think carefully about what it is you want to say and how you want to say it. You might try writing it down and/or practice saying it aloud. This will help you feel as prepared and calm as possible before talking to someone.  
  • Make contact with others in a similar situation by joining local support groups, your school or community groups for LGBTQ+ people or speaking to a helpline. This can really help you to build your confidence and if you know people who understand, you’ll be in a better position to tell others 
  • Think carefully about what else you have going on in your life. If you are you are juggling other stresses you might not be feeling in the most stable and robust position to come out to people. Also, if you are feeling vulnerable and someone’s reaction is not as supportive as you’d hoped, it could make the other stresses in your life harder to deal with. 
  • When planning to have the conversation, it is a good idea to choose a moment when you have the time and opportunity to say what you want to say and to listen to what they have to say. It is rarely helpful to have difficult or emotional conversations when you are in a rush.  
  • Have a clear head. If you’re drunk or hungover it is very unlikely that you won’t say the right thing and you may not be in the best state of mind to deal with their response.  
  • Avoid coming out in an argument or when you are upset or angry; this could make the conversation heated and stressful than it needs to be.  
  • You could write an email or letter if you don’t want to tell someone in person so they have time to process the information before you speak to them face-to-face. 
  • Avoid coming out at big family occasions like weddings or Christmas Day; these days are often emotional and distracting and you probably won’t get the opportunity to discuss how you feel properly. 
  • Consider delaying coming out to your parents if you think this will put you at risk of violence, not being able to live at home, or not being properly cared for until you’ve got a support system that means you can leave and live somewhere safely if you need to. 

If someone reacts badly…

When you tell people, such as your family, they might be shocked, worried or find it difficult to accept at first. Remember: their first reaction isn’t necessarily how they’ll feel forever, they might just need a bit of time to process what you’ve told them. 

However, it is important to take care of yourself in these situations; while it is a good idea to give people time to adjust, you should still be prioritising your own comfort and happiness, and seeking support from people who you trust and will be supportive.  

Getting help

If you are worried about coming out, or if you have a difficult experience of coming out, it is important to seek support.  

There are lots of organisations who can talk to you and give you advice, and who can offer emotional and practical support.  

If you worried about your safety, contact Childline on their website or by calling 0800 1111. If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999.  

For more advice on coming out as LGBTQ+, visit the Stonewall website.  

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