Over this month you will have no doubt read many articles and stories about how people have come out. Across the gay community, it is the one thing we all have in common; we all have a story to tell.
Some are happy stories that strengthen relationships and make the ties that bind closer. Others have had negative effects on relationships for various different reasons. My personal experience was generally apathy. I had a lot of “yes, I know” and “oh, is that all?” I’m not exactly a stereotype either, I don’t like girls aloud, I’m not fashionable or into male grooming. I’m fat and a geek.
Even working as a counsellor with LGBT clients who have not had a positive reaction, I have never come across anyone that has regretted doing so. Most are upset and hurt that they have been rejected but proud that they have found the strength to say proudly and honestly who they are.
So what stops us from coming out? How do we rationalise this away? Here are a few things that may prevent people from my personal experience and work with clients.
Fear of change
Fear of change is probably being the biggest blocker for most changes, Whether or not we are looking at coming out, changing career, moving or ending a relationship. No matter how unhappy people are the fear of taking the leap into the unknown is enough to stop them.
Change is scary but without it nothing will ever be any different. I remember waking up the morning after coming out to my parents and regretting it. I was scared because I did not know the rules anymore. I knew how to lie and manipulate the truth so they never found out. I did not know how to be open and honest with them. But in the longer term guess which option was less stressful and frustrating.
They know anyway
My rationale was always that I was 90% sure that my parents knew anyway, they had stopped asking about relationships and dating. It was the big pink elephant in the room that was not referred to. The 10% left was doubt because I had never discussed it and avoided the topic of conversation. The counsellor that I was working with at the time challenged me that if I was so sure why wasn’t I having the conversation. She was right; this was a very subtle form of denial. If we can avoid the situation then it does not need to be dealt with.
Timing and circumstance
Of course everybody has the right to do things at their own pace and circumstances. My fear of being outed was always around the fact that I felt it was my human right to have this conversation when I was ready. I had been confused as to what my actual sexuality was. When I was younger there were not a lot of positive role models around that I could identify with. To be a gay was to be effeminate and less of a man. That was how you were perceived and that didn’t fit with me. I was not confident in my sexuality or ready to have that discussion. Once I admitted to myself that I was gay, I knew that the conversation would need to happen
They will hate me for lying to them
I was 32, gay and hadn’t come out to my parents. I felt that I had gone past a reasonable amount of time where I could tell them. Aside from not telling them about my sexuality, I had close relationship to them. I was afraid that they would feel betrayed. The issue of me being gay no longer felt like a concern, the issue of me being a liar was very much present. When I came out to my parents I asked them if they felt this way, my dad had said it was my business and had I chosen not to tell them so he respected my privacy.
So when it finally came down to it, all my reasons were blockers and negative thoughts. None turned out to be legitimate concerns. I appreciate that this will not ring true for everyone and I can’t tell you that it is an easy path to choose.
But I can tell you this, I didn’t realise the weight I was carrying till it was gone. I respected myself a lot more for having been completely honest about the person I am and it has been the most liberating experience of my life. I know who I am now and so does the world.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.