The term to ‘come out’ is used by many people and means something different to everyone.
“Coming out” often has to do with realising you are attracted to people of the same sex, different sexes or that you are trans or intersex.
It often starts with realising your own identity and beginning to accept it.
Some people may seek support so they are comfortable with calling themselves gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) before telling people they know, or making it more widely known.
Understanding your feelings
Once we begin to understand and learn more about our feelings and attractions, we can start to feel comfortable with our sexuality.
For some, understanding and accepting their feelings and attractions is simple and straightforward; for others it is difficult. For all of us, it is a learning experience.
You may feel comfortable going through this process by yourself or you may like to draw on the experiences of other people.
An organisation called BeLonG To which supports LGBT young people have helped develop lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth groups around Ireland. Contact them on 01 670 6223 or visit the website to find out if there a group in your area.
This is an anonymous and confidential support service from people who are experienced in discussing these issues.
You may want to tell someone else you trust to be understanding and supportive you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. You might choose a friend, family member or another adult you know.
Try reading telling people you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender before sharing your feelings with others.
You will probably want to meet other gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people for friendship or a relationship, or perhaps even to hear what it was like for them coming out. An LGBT youth group is a safe place to meet other people like you.
If you’re not able to tell someone about your feelings that is totally fine. Remember, who you tell and when you tell them is your decision. The important thing is to be honest and accepting of yourself.
People who hassle me
People within our society discriminate and are even violent towards people who are perceived to be different. However, attitudes about sexuality and gender identity have been changing for the better and are much more positive than in the past.
Irish people have voted for same-sex marriage and gender recognition legislation has been introduced to name just a few of the positive things that have happened in Ireland for LGBT people in the recent past.
There are also many groups working to make things better for everyone. No matter the reason, whether you are at school, work, college or just hanging out, harassment or abuse, whether verbal or physical, should not be tolerated.
This does not mean you have to take it on yourself. Factors like your own safety and wellbeing need to be considered.
Sometimes it’s easier to ignore people who try to hassle you. However, you have the right to feel and be safe. Nobody deserves violence or harassment; you are not responsible for other people’s attitudes.
Suggestions for dealing with harassment:
- tell friends you trust
- report it to someone in authority
- talk to the Welfare Officer in your college
- contact BeLonG To
- talk to a Garda LGBT Liaison Officer.
Being harassed or fearing that someone could give you a hard time can be isolating and at times terrifying. You don’t need to deal with it on your own.
Read telling people you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender before sharing your feelings with others.