An Open Letter To Anyone Who Hasn't 'Come Out' Yet
In a world tied up by expectations, the idea of ‘coming out’ and expressing myself felt like an impossible thing to do. For years I kept my sexuality hidden and tried to hide it as much as possible because I cared too much about what other people thought of me. I created my own barriers that restricted me from being comfortable with being the person that I’ve always meant to be. The truth is, is that it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. Coming out was probably one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
In this open letter I want to express my experience of ‘coming out’ in the hope that people will understand my perspectives and help those who are struggling to accept their own sexuality. The scariest part for me in the process of ‘coming out’ was accepting myself. It wasn’t telling people about it surprisingly, it was feeling comfortable in myself to be who I am supposed to be.
I really wanted to write this open letter to share my experience on coming out and my perspectives in the hope that it will help anyone reading this. Whether it’s you or you know someone that’s gay or on the verge of coming out, please show them this letter and spread it far and wide. It's time to start having an open mind on how we view love and sex!
If you have gone through this or know somebody who is going through it, then you’ll begin to understand where I’m coming from when I say that it’s not as simple as saying “I’m gay” and closing the book on it. Believe me, I wish it was that way, but there’s still a lot that society needs to understand about sexuality. Being gay has many challenges and the hardest challenge for me was something that had to be fought alone.
Something that bugs me in today's society is that everybody paints everyone who is gay with the same brush. Not everybody is the same and I don't find it that aspect of it fair. People like to judge and make fast assumptions about people and it fascinates me that people still seem to not get it.
Now don’t get me wrong when I say this, in 2018 I feel 100% comfortable with my sexuality because I don’t see it as a big deal like I used to before I came out. Looking back, I wish I came out years ago when I started to discover my sexuality during my teen years. I feel like I stopped myself from doing a lot of things because of how under confident I was. Having low self-esteem is very restrictive and although we all can’t be confident 100% of the time, I discovered that hiding my sexuality played a big role in this.
I feel that in today's society, sexuality is something seen as something taboo to talk about on all ends of the spectrum. And at the same time, we forget that we now have the freedom to be who we want to be.
I wouldn’t go to the extent of saying that being gay makes me feel unhappy, but at times it did make me question as to whether it was normal to feel this way. But don't worry there's nothing wrong with you and exploring your sexuality is completely normal and natural!
Hiding your sexuality is a mentally exhausting time which can last for years and many barriers are placed in your way, so you aren’t living your life to the fullest. I feel very grateful that we are living a more accepting time where people are starting to appreciate that we need to put the past behind us to move on to the better times that wait ahead.
I understand that sexuality is a private thing for many and not everybody is comfortable discussing it. That's totally fine! I can only share my own experiences and how I view it in the hope that it will help anyone reading this who may be struggling with the anxiety to be who you are.
I feel there are some issues that have got to be discussed and not swept under the carpet. We often turn a blind eye to the truth, but once you accept it everything opens up in positive ways. It's important for people to have their own opinions on sexuality and not forced to view it one way, but it's also important that people aren't counted out because of one aspect of their personality.
Sometimes people don’t want to come out about their sexuality because they are afraid of what their friends might think as well as their family. There seems to be an underlying pressure that people must act a certain way to get on with people and I think it's quite damaging. Whether you're gay or not, we shouldn't be expected to live a certain way because freedom is a right!
Sometimes we are expected to act a certain way whether we are straight, bisexual or gay when the reality is you don't have to 'act'. Times have changed, yet we still see it happening around us. I believe it comes down to confidence and if we uplifted each other more instead of trying to bring each other down we would be so far ahead, and we would be living our lives to the fullest. I certainly feel this way and we should remember that love is love and we need more of it in the world.
Arguably this could be a factor as to why many people feel anxious socially, which results in negative ways, especially if it comes down to someone hiding their sexuality because they feel they must act a certain way to keep their friendships going. If that’s you the I promise you it’s not as bad as you think it will be.
If that’s you then I just wanted to say that you have nothing to worry about because if those people are your friends, then they will still be your friend when you come out or discuss you are experiencing feelings toward the same sex! If they don’t respect that then they clearly don't respect you and are not your friends and you need to find new ones.
When it comes to family. Family is always family and they will accept you for who you are. It might take time for them to adjust, but they’ll always love you for who you are. I’ve pretended not to be gay and trust me, it’s just a path of unhappiness and negativity which will affect your life in several ways!
I came out to my family in May 2017 and it was something that one night on a weekend home from university that I decided to do. I remember the weekend so vividly. I remember departing Manchester for Newcastle on the train, the air was muggy and the air was wet and it really set my mood that day. I felt so frustrated that people couldn’t understand my personality. At that point I really had to decide how I was going to go about things to change things positively.
That’s when I decided that it was the right time to come out. You can only hide the truth for so long before it bites you in the ass! I won’t lie, I was very nervous, but I felt a new sense of courage that I couldn’t explain and that was when I knew that it was time. It was now or never.
I struck up a conversation explaining to my parents about how unhappy I was feeling about things at the time and when they asked me why I dropped subtle hints about things that I wasn’t feeling happy about within myself. That’s when they guessed and that’s when I came out.
They said that it was fine and that I had the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be and that they kind of already knew, they just didn’t want to be rude in case I wasn’t, which is understandable. From then on, I started to feel so much more comfortable living in my own skin and it gave me the strength to break down those barriers that restricted me.
In 2018, looking back a year on, I feel so much more confident and I have allowed myself to do the things I couldn’t have done beforehand. I have a job, my university grades went from failing to top of the board, I’ve put myself in more social situations where I’ve made friends whilst at university and I have a new positive attitude which has helped me to reach goals I couldn't have years ago.
I discovered when I was 12 that I was gay, and I painfully hid a big part of myself for seven years. Even though I’m still working hard to break other barriers, I feel a new sense of freedom and feel so much more confident.
Believe me, I know how hard it is to lock a big part of your personality because of what other people will think. I used to feel lonely during secondary school quite a lot because people weren’t very accepting then and of course people are very different at school as to when they leave. I mean, I’m not the same person as I was when I was at school, thankfully.
I found this interesting quote by Alfred Kinsey in an article called “Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male” and something really spoke to me which explains how some people view sexuality today.
He says: “Males do not represent two discrete populations; heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats, and not all things are black nor all things white. Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon-holes. The sooner we learn more into human sexual behaviour, the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex.”
I respect this will have a divided opinion, but the message of it I believe is true. This is to say that we need to stop labelling each other constantly and restricting who we associate ourselves with socially because of somebody’s sexuality. Coming out can feel like an isolating experience because of the way some people still view sexuality. I’m just thankful to live in a place and time in the world where I have the freedom to be who I am today.
I feel that this should open the debate at secondary schools to start putting things in place to protect students who are being bullied as they struggle with coming to terms with their sexuality. It's a confusing experience at the start and teachers need to support students more! Sexuality shouldn't divide people. Just think about how much more confident people would be in expressing their true selves and how much bullying could be cut out of the equation.
I feel like this is where the school system fails in some respects, as there was much bullying that happened when I was at school and nothing was done about it, especially for students who struggled with their sexuality. In my case, people often counted me out because people sensed that I was gay. It needs to change.
Secondary school was the toughest for me and if it is for you reading this letter and you’re struggling, all I’ve got to say is, hang in there! Everything changes when you leave and it’s then that you can focus on yourself and things become so much better!
I understand that some people are gay but not attached to a community. The truth is, you don't have to be because at the end of the day it is up to you who you want to associate yourself with. I know many including myself who are gay and just live the lives we want to lead and accept that people have different perspectives and opinions.
Coming out does take some getting used to as you start adjusting to the lifestyle that you want to lead but trust me when I say that things become a whole lot more positive than they were before.
You should be able to live the life you want to lead, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks! I’m super grateful for being able to be who I am because of people being more open and accepting with changing views on how the world views sexuality.
However, it still fascinates me that certain sects of people choose to remain hateful towards the people who want to promote love. Not everyone who is gay is the same and I think this is something that has damaged the way people view others who are gay. There's so much more to a person than their sexuality.
Hopefully, in the future, people shouldn’t feel the need to ‘come out’ because we’ll live in a society that doesn’t associate love and sex with labels and that it’s a part of human nature. Sex is natural and shouldn't be a taboo thing to talk about.
Remember you have a choice in coming out and you should only do and discuss what makes you feel comfortable and sometimes it doesn’t have to be a big deal! It's important to not feel peer pressured or even pressure yourself in doing something you're not comfortable with. When the time is right you'll know. Everybody is different! I’m happy to be gay. I’m happy to be me.
There will be challenges, but it happens to everyone regardless of sexuality. We’re all on our own path in life, but we can decide which direction to take and taking that leap of faith in coming out may just turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done! And when the time comes you’re going to feel so much better about the way you live your own life.
I’ll never forget that day that I finally accepted myself and cared more about the way I viewed myself rather than what other people thought. And that remains to this day and I really hope this open letter starts making a positive change to anyone who hasn’t come out yet!