Dear Little Questioning Beauty on the Other End of the Internet,
So, it seems you may have stumbled on this post looking for answers and tips on how to come out, how to be queer out loud-we’ll get to that. There is no doubt that the next few years of your life will see you do some amazing things. But you’re going to face your struggles too. One being falling in and out of love not only with someone else, but with yourself. Your sexuality can be something scary especially in the beginning and I promise someday, it will be a great source of happiness in you. Here are a few of the tips I wish I had gotten when I was hidden under the dresses and cashmere jumpers in my closet way back when.
Relax. Breathe. You haven’t changed.
So maybe you’re freaking out about this new discovery, worried about what your friends and family will think of you as this new, ‘changed’ person. Let me break this softly, you are still you, as much you as you were before you thought you might be queer. You’ve learned about a part of yourself you didn’t know existed and that’s not a change, that’s an adventure, a chance for you to find out about yourself and meet some wonderful people in the process. Take a deep, glitter-filled breath in through your nose and know that this is you, and you should be so proud of knowing yourself well enough to identify it.
Come out for yourself
Coming out is something you’ll do throughout your life, it gets easier but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have days where you just don’t want to talk about it-and that’s okay. Make sure coming out is something you want, not something that is expected of you by anyone. Come out in your own time, to the people you want to come out to. Don’t rush it. Being LGBT* is a part of yourself you are learning about and you can disclose it where and how you want. If people aren’t okay with your sexuality, be open to the reasons why they feel this way, but also understand that your sexuality is not your fault and you can’t change that part of yourself. Please remember, you aren’t selfish for coming out, you are wonderful, brave and an absolute queen for wanting to be honest with your feelings.
You know yourself better than anyone else
Some people will ask questions (even if it’s none of their business) and while that’s normal, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. People might ask ‘”how do you know you’re gay/lesbian/bisexual/pan/demi?” or ‘are you sure?’ While these questions are valid, you know what your heart wants at the end of the day, so don’t feel like you have to answer if you don’t want to. Your sexuality is about finding someone who can be a part of making you happy, so if you are confident in your feelings, go with it! If you’re not as sure, think about what they’ve asked for yourself if you think it will help you, you don’t have to hash that out with another person if you don’t want to, again, your sexuality is your business at the end of the day.
Find out about the community
Meeting other LGBT* young people can be a struggle and also kind of scary, especially if you’re in a rural area or a small town, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. See if there is an LGBT* youth group in your area, if there is a college nearby, drop them an email if you have questions and of course, have a look online for information. BeLonGTo, SpunOut.ie and B4U Decide all have resources for people coming out or who might be questioning. As a general rule of thumb, no research is bad research and in the journey of you, you may want to see people who are like you. You are going to read a lot of rubbish online, but you’ll see some brilliant content that will help you feel more comfortable in your own skin.
Don’t feel bad for falling in love
I get it. Girls are awesome, even straight girls can totally admit that. It’s tough when you are a queer teen, often when you meet another person who also operates in the LGBT* circles, it can be difficult to tell the difference between an intense friendship and a crush. All the butterfly feelings are heightened because unlike other girls your age, you usually never have the chance to find other girls like you. So, it’s completely acceptable to fall head over heels for the first wonderful girl with pretty brown eyes and an affinity for plaid. That’s totally okay, you are allowed to have those feelings-it’s completely normal. However, it can (and will) hurt when they aren’t reciprocated and that just sucks. Whether you fall for someone who is also attracted to the same sex, or for a girl who is straight, you can’t change their hearts to beat with yours as much as people can’t convince you to be straight.
Definitions are for dictionaries
There is a huge pressure when coming out to define yourself as something-whether that be gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual or whatever floats your lady boat. Please remember there isn’t something wrong if you don’t feel an instant connection with a label or if you never feel a connection. Another thing I heard when I was coming out that really helped me was don’t be a prisoner of a label. You could be bisexual one day, gay the next, and asexual the day after. This is your life. We don’t belong to people, nor should we have to accept an identity if we are seeing someone. You are more than a label, you are an entire person separate to your sexuality.
Back to the how-to be queer out loud…there is no right or wrong way to come out, it’s different for everyone because everyone has different circumstances and supports and you need to consider yours. Just do it your way, be authentic and true to yourself and you can’t go far wrong. I’m still learning, I learn something every single day, some days are more difficult than others, but I live for the good days.
Chase your rainbows and enjoy the trip.
All my Love,
Some helpful supports:
BELONGTO: Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in Ireland.
SPUN OUT: This is a one stop shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter of fact, helpful and all bases are covered.
SAMARITANS: This helpline is open 24 hours a day and completely confidential. Call 116 123.
CHILDLINE: Helpline and online support, offering advice and support to young people under 18.
YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.