The 11th October is International ‘Coming Out Day’.
‘Coming out’ refers to telling people about your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Coming out is a personal decision that is different for every single person and can be done in many different ways. Some may use their social media to tell everyone they know in one go, whilst others may prefer to tell a couple of their closest friends and see how it goes. It is important that you only tell those you feel comfortable with, and do not feel forced to come out.
Many LGBTQ+ individuals prefer to only come out in certain areas of their life and not in others and, often, coming out isn’t something you only do once! As Stonewall put it, ‘coming out is also only a part of your LGBTQ+ journey’ but often it can be the first, and most daunting, step in that journey.
Coming out Day recognises the honour and bravery of LGBTQ+ individuals who decide to come out and live openly.
Unfortunately, due to stigma and discrimination, coming out can be a terrifying decision to make, as there is no way to know what the other person’s reaction will be. It is sad that in some countries, it can even be dangerous to come out. Fortunately, in the UK, members of the LGBTQ+ community are protected by the Equality Act 2010.
Coming out offers members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to live openly and authentically, to be their true selves around their loved ones. It can be a truly joyful and enlightening experience if your friends and family are accepting and open-minded.
Sadly, not everyone who decides to come out has a good experience, which is why we’ve put together a list of 5 ways you can get support with coming out, and 5 ways you can be an ally to your LGBTQ+ friends and family on Coming Out Day.
5 ways to get support with Coming Out
- Many LGBTQ+ charities and organisations run in-person support groups such as Londonfriend, which offers several support groups and .
- Charities such as MindOut offer themed online support sessions run by volunteers who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Stonewall has mountains of resources on their website, which include advice, personal experience and support, including this article on coming out.
- Helplines like Switchboard can provide someone to talk to if there is no one you’re able to talk to about your experiences.
- Build up a chosen family. See if your school, university, or workplace have an LGBTQ+ group. Go and meet other members of the community. Alternatively, there are organisations like ‘Stand in Pride’ which ‘unites people with the love and respect that everyone deserves’ by providing a community of supportive and loving individuals spread all across the world who are ‘ready and willing to shower you with support’. They are willing to physically show up for any special occasion’, helping people to find their chosen family.
5 ways to be an ally on Coming Out Day
- Listen to your friends and family without judgement, while understanding that if someone comes out to you they really trust and love you, and want to be open with you about their true self.
- Challenge stigma and discrimination with positive and personal experiences.
- Celebrate LGBTQ+ pride all year long by supporting charities and LGBTQ+ led groups and businesses.
- Take steps to stay educated and well-informed on LGBTQ+ language, news topics, and changes in legislation that affect the LGBTQ+ community.
- Support campaigns that support acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, and those that challenge discrimination.
Happy Coming Out Day!