October 11th is National Coming Out Day, so we're showing you how to be your authentic self this year. Here's our guide to coming out.
October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day of awareness and celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s an opportunity to speak your truth and live authentically as you. And where better to do so than university? As a student, you should feel welcome and accepted wherever you attend uni – especially as many LGBTQ+ students cannot be open with their family members.
In 2018, Stonewall found that two in five LGBT students have hidden their identity at university for fear of discrimination. Three years on, we wanted to find out how students are feeling now.
Now, we all wish we lived in a world where ‘coming out’ just wasn’t a thing. But, in reality, a lot of LGBTQ+ students will have to announce their sexuality and/or gender identity to their friends and family to be able to fully live their truth.
For many, this is a scary time – even for the lucky ones this can be a frankly awkward experience. So, we asked LGBTQ+ members of the Student Hut panel what advice they would give to people who are planning on coming out.
We spoke to our student panel to ask them how they felt about coming out, and any advice they would give to their fellow students. Let's delve into what we learned.
1. Take your time
Many students told us that they thought the best advice they could give was to take your time and do it when you feel comfortable. After all, you’ll probably be coming out to people for the rest of your life! So don’t feel pressured to do it right now if you don’t want to. If you’re feeling uncertain, speak to a small group of friends first to build up your confidence. Here is some of the advice our students wanted to share:
“Start small, with a handful of people you really trust and know love you unconditionally. Take your time, there is no rush.”
“Do so on your own terms. Whenever and however you feel like it. Don't do it just because you feel you have to, or you're feeling any pressure.”
“Make sure you're comfortable in your identity before telling anyone as if you're not completely comfortable yet then if someone has a negative reaction it can push you back into the closet and can lead to years of denial”
2. Try not to worry about what other people think about you. It’s your life to live.
But let’s be honest, sometimes, people are going to react negatively, so channel all your boss energy and be proud of who you are. Even if that makes other people uncomfortable. Here’s what our students had to say:
“Just go for it baby, live your best life, life is short!”
“Be yourself. Your life is yours to live. It isn't for you to put on an act for people you want to please but know won't accept you for who you are”
“Be proud of who you are. Do not be ashamed, you are amazing and people should know the real you. Take your time and keep your head up”
3. Always remember, safety first
First and foremost, make sure you are safe. Especially if you’re dependent on your family and you think they will respond negatively. If you’re in this situation you can still come out – you never know, they might be more okay with it than you think.
But just make sure you have a plan in place in case. Make sure you have friends you can talk to, that you have somewhere to stay and some way to support yourself. Here’s what our students had to say:
“Make sure you are safe and have plans in order if your family doesn't seem like they'd approve.”
“If you are in any danger of getting kicked out because of your gender/sexuality, I would recommend waiting until you're in a stable position to come out to your parents, and instead confide in a few close friends, a teacher, or other trustworthy adults.“
“Make sure you are ready and that doing so won't put you at risk. Having a good support network is very helpful. Being closeted doesn't make you less valid and there are thousands of people out here ready to welcome you.”
4. There are always people out there who will love you for who you are
Lastly, even if things don’t go as planned, there are always plenty of people in the world who will love and accept you for who you are! So here are just a few quotes from our non-LGBTQ+ Student Hut members to help you remember that.
“For me, it doesn't matter what sexuality you are at all - as long as you're a nice person I'll get along with you :)”
“It doesn't matter if a person falls under LGBTQ+ or not, what’s most important is that they are also human beings, you can't deny that fact. To be honest, I would love to have an LGBTQ+ friend in my life!”
“I feel like people should be open-minded. Our future generations must be proud of us!”
If you have been impacted by any of the topics covered in this article you can find out more about support using the following links:
- The Beaumont Society offer help and support for the transgender community.
- Galop is an LGBT anti-violence charity that offers support and advice to individuals who have experienced hate crime, sexual violence and domestic abuse.
- The LGBT Foundation believes in a fair and equal society where all LGBT people can achieve their full potential and works to ensure LGBT voices are heard and their needs are met.
- LGBT Health and Wellbeing are a unique community initiative that promotes the health, wellbeing and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. They provide support, services and information to improve health and wellbeing.
- Mermaids provides support for families, teens and children with gender identity issues.
- The National Trans Youth Network represents young trans people in the UK, with groups in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Stonewall empowers individuals in the UK and abroad by providing them with support and advice to help tackle discrimination and hate crimes. As well as campaigning for greater equality, it has a range of research and resources to support you.
- Switchboard provides help and advice for LGBT people. Contact them to find details of local services.