DEIDRE SAYS: Coming out – telling others about your sexual orientation – is a big step for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community.
So it’s no surprise that only 46 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel comfortable being open about their sexual orientation to their entire family.
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For those that don’t, this is often due to fears of not being accepted or of disappointing their loved ones.
Coming out can be difficult, but it can also provide a sense of relief for those that feel they’ve had to hide who they really are.
There is no right way, or time, to tell your friends and family the truth. The key thing is that you feel comfortable and ready.
Make sure it’s a time where you can discuss things properly, as they may have questions.
Some people prefer telling everyone at once. Others move more slowly, sharing the news with one person or group at a time.
If you’re not sure what to say, LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall suggest some ways to phrase it:
‘I’ve been thinking about my sexuality a lot recently and have realised that I’m gay. It would mean a lot if you could tell me that you still love and accept me.’
‘You’re important to me, so I want to share with you that I’m pansexual. This means I’m attracted to people regardless of their gender.’
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Bear in mind that your loved ones might be surprised or shocked. If they are, this doesn’t mean they aren’t going to support you. It may just take time for them to adjust.
Remember, just as you have built up an impression of your future, so have they.
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Not sure where on the spectrum you sit?
Former Ru Paul’s Drag Race star, Scarlett Harlett, admits it’s not as ‘black and white’ as some people make out.
Speaking on the latest episode of the new Dear Deidre Podcast, she said: “The biggest misconception is that everything is so black and white.
“I can, from my own experience, say, that growing up as a gay person, a queer person, it is incredibly tough. It takes years to deconstruct what these things mean.”
For some, labels help them understand how they’re feeling. Plus, it can be reassuring to use a term that people already understand.
But for others, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what box you fit in when things are still shifting in your head. So don’t rush to label yourself until you are sure.
Talking to people facing similar questions may help.
FFLAG, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, offer support through confidential helplines all over the country (www.fflag.org.uk, 0300 688 0368).
They also have lots of helpful information available on their website, including two excellent booklets called How Do I Tell My Parents? and A Guide For Families And Friends Of Lesbians And Gays. These are available free to download.
Switchboard LGBT + can put you in touch with local counselling, support groups and social networks (https://switchboard.lgbt, 0300 330 0630).
And for those under the age of 25, The Mix offers advice over the phone and online. Their website also has some great resources on coming out (www.themix.org.uk, 0808 808 4994).
MORE FROM DEAR DEIDRE
For straight partners and spouses of LGBTQ+ people wanting support, contact Straight Partners Anonymous (https://straightpartersanonymous.com).
More information is available in our support packs. To request one, or to get personalised advice from one of our counsellors, email us at [email protected]