Here are some personal tales of the different experiences of ‘coming out’
Anon (current x2y member)
I’ve always known I was a boy until I was told and treated otherwise by family and school. I first told my sister I was FTM (female to male) trans and she helped me tell my mum. My mum told me she ‘wants me to be happy’ but doesn’t call me by my preferred name and pronouns. I came out to school on Facebook and most people at school are supporting and accepting.
Miffy (current x2y member)
When I was younger I always knew that I wasn’t a girl. I didn’t even think about it because a) I was young and b) I’m autistic so I don’t really get social norms anyway. When I got older I thought I was a girl because society kind of pushes you into it. When I was in college I started learning about gender identity and I just thought to myself ‘Maybe I’m not a girl’, because I didn’t feel like one. And I came out to quite a few of the teaching assistants and the mental health people and things.
Then I got very nervous about it because I kept thinking ‘What if I’m not really this? What if I’m just doing it for attention?’ Then I read this blog post by some transphobic radical feminist which was all like ‘Oh all these women think they’re non-binary but they’re not they’re just trying to get away from being women!’ So I convinced myself I was actually a girl and shoved myself back into the closet. It was really bad, and my mental health got really bad at the end of college anyway and I don’t think that helped.
Then I had like an autism mentor and I came out to her about it and I came out again as non-binary and I was just like ‘I’m non-binary’ so I told as many people as possible. I’m still getting through telling everyone in my class. Most of my family knows, my mom’s the most accepting of it. I don’t really know if my dad’s paying much attention. Most of the members of the family, I don’t know how seriously they take it, but I know what I felt by announcing it. I know why I felt the way I did about lots of things. I know why I could never identify with female characters even though I kept thinking I should. I came out twice technically!
Anon (current x2y member)
I have known that I’ve been trans since I was in Year 5, because in the games we used to play I was always the boy. I always identified as a boy in those days and none of my friends had a problem with it, we didn’t really question it. I told my mom in Year 7 that I liked girls and boys, bisexual, and she was absolutely fine with it. Then a bit later on I came out as gender fluid which she thought was a bit of a joke, to be fair, because not many people know about it. And then – this is where everything gets depressing – I attempted suicide two years ago, I tried to drown myself. And while I was in hospital for four months in the mental health ward I came out to my mom as transgender.
It wasn’t the most ideal place or time to come out, but it was like I’d stopped caring about everything so I just came out. My mom was absolutely fine, but my dad kicked me out, so I’ve been living with my mom ever since. And we’re going to family therapy to – not mend the relationship but keep it civil. I guess that’s it. I’m on the waiting list for Taverstock so I should be starting hormone blockers in six months’ time. Pretty much everyone’s been supportive. Every now and then I get someone calling me a tranny. And these kids from another school followed me home, called me a tranny and I got in a fight with one of them. It was nasty. There were a lot of punches thrown.
I think I’m really lucky. I’m lucky that I’ve had a such response from everyone around me. Because it could have definitely been worse. So yeah! That’s my suicidal coming out story!
Edan (current x2y member)
I told this girl, she’s a lesbian, and she was like ‘Oh my gosh, I always knew it!’ And I went ‘What?’ and it was like ‘Have you not seen yourself!’ I was really offended! Then I told one person every single day and I got to this girl who was in my year and I told her to tell more and more people at break – I said you can tell x, you can tell y and z and then at lunch I just went ‘You know f*** it, just tell everyone.’ And by the end of lunch everyone was giving me sh** for it. But then slowly, by the end of Year 7, people started to accept it. I came out as bi. I did know I was gay but I was too scared.
But then the next October, my mom called me into the living room and she said ‘I’m going to ask you a question and you have to be 100% honest.’ And then she said ‘Are you gay?’ And I didn’t say anything I just started crying and I ran to my room. And she followed me and I ran into the toilet and locked the door. And she tried to talk to me for like 2 hours. Then the next day my mom had left for work when I went to school. And after school I didn’t go home for a few hours, although my mom was texting me ‘Tea’s done’. My dad called me and I went home. My mom was home early from work and said she had a headache. Then a few months later she told me she thought she was a bad parent because I couldn’t tell her. But that wasn’t the case. And then I came out on Facebook to the rest of my family.
Fred the Minion (current x2y member)
I was 17. I phoned my dad and said ‘Do you love me?’ and he said ‘Yes’. I said ‘Is there anything that can change that?’ and he said ‘Shut up and tell me what’s wrong.’ I said ‘Dad, I like girls’ and he said ‘Well that’s good, because I don’t have to worry about you getting pregnant any time soon!’ Then he asked me if I wanted to go to the pub for a pint.
Anon (current x2y member)
Lots of people sexually abused me and I figured that being with boys was bad. I knew I was bisexual but thought I was made that way. I was homophobic towards myself and had thoughts like that to others. I struggled with mental health and anger, alcohol and drugs. It took me to finally admit to a boy who I had liked for 10 years that I liked boys too. Turns out he liked me too! We are married now and he helps me with my issues and I am studying hairdressing. My life is getting a lot better now I am accepting of my sexuality. I know that I was born this way, not made this way.
John (former x2y member)
I came out at first to someone on the internet who I didn’t know personally. I found it was good to actually talk about what went on in my head for the first time.
After a few months, I told some close friends and liaised with other gay and lesbian people. When other people in my school, who’d had their suspicions for a while, cottoned onto my new social life, I decided to ‘go public’. This had mixed reactions and I’ve taken some stick, but for me, the boost in my self-esteem and the feeling of freedom was great.
However, when I told my family, I didn’t really listen to them, and let my freedom get the better of me, and this caused tension between us. My advice for gay, lesbian and bisexual people coming out to their family would be to make sure you are clear with them, let them get used to it and give them time. I think it’s important not to hide anything, but be careful – remember you have the rest of your life to enjoy yourself.
Patrick (former x2y member)
I came out to my Mom after my first time at x2y. That night I asked my best friend if I should come out to my Mom. She said, ‘yes!’ and it would make it easier for me to attend x2y. That night I went home with my best friend and she asked me if I was still going to tell her, I said yes! I told my Mom that I had something to tell her, and she said OK! I told her I was gay and she said OK and had a little heart to heart. And she told me ‘well, its OK with me, I will always love you no matter what’.
Telling my mom was the best decision I ever made because I can tell her anything and she will be honest. When I came out to my mum I told her I was being bullied and it all came out. She was mad at me being bullied so she went to school and got it sorted for me!
Jeff (former x2y member)
‘Coming out’ can be one of the most exciting, worrying, stressful, happy, emotional times of your life. It can be hard work and risky, but coming out is the most ‘liberating’ thing you can do for yourself. We all go through that ‘crazy head’ stage when we start to wonder if we are really LGBT, all the questions, worry and thoughts running round in your head. I remember it well, and it isn’t a nice place to be, I call it the ‘crazy head’ stage because that’s how it was, and the only way to describe how it felt, waking up every morning still not sure if you’re into boys or girls… I’m glad to hear that more and more young people are getting over that stage more quickly, and far more pain free than say a few years ago. Being gay is part of your life, it’s part of your personality and guides your life more than you can imagine whether you follow the life on the gay scene or not.
I found ‘coming out’ to my family and friends a stressful and emotional time, but I knew no matter how long it took, it would be worth it once I got there. I remember waking up on the first morning I actually knew I was gay, I had a little lump in my tummy and it had changed from fear to excitement. All of a sudden I wanted to live my life, I wanted to get out there and find the guy of my dreams.
Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of, or worried about, you don’t have to go to marches and fight for equal rights, but you shouldn’t hide your sexuality from anyone either. By ‘coming out’, I knew that I was not only letting people know that I am happy with my sexuality, but I was proving to myself that it’s ok to be ‘out’ and gay, to live my life as I wish, and that I don’t have to hide from anyone any longer.
The day I came ‘out’ to my mum, that feeling like I had the lump in my tummy came back, just for a short time, until I thought about the right way to tell her, but as soon as I told her that feeling went. My mum replied, ‘Don’t worry darling, we’ll still love you no matter what’, and she asked why I never told her sooner. I then started telling the rest of my family, starting with my dad, sister and brother-in-law. Again, worrying about their response but the tummy feeling wasn’t there, so I guess I was only really worried about telling my mum.
Over the past two and a half years I have found out who my true friends are and who are not. Out of a wide range of friends I can say I have at the most six friends out of the group from when I was younger that still talk to me since finding out I’m gay. But, I look at it like this – the straight friends who don’t talk to me, well, I have found better gay friends that I know won’t let me down. I was just 17 when I came ‘out’ and yeah, looking back there are things I would change but as I was told when I came ‘out’, and I would say this to anyone younger than me who is concerned about ‘coming out’ – ‘Coming out’ is the start of the rest of your life, it’s the start of a new beginning, of a happy and exciting life that in the end will lead to happiness.
Coming out is something you will be doing for the rest of your life, you start with the first person you tell and you carry on through life. When you move house, change job, meet new friends and so on.
Once you have initially ‘come out’ it does get better, you work methods of dropping it in to conversation without even opening your mouth. You can say ‘it’ with a proud look on your face, without mumbling it and confusing your words and the best bit is you stop shaking!!
FFLAG (A support network for friends and family of lesbians and gay men) www.fflag.org.uk
Birmingham Parents’ Support Group for the Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gay men. www.birminghamparentssupportgroup.co.uk