Coming Out Information and Advice

Coming Out to Parents, Relatives and Straight Friends

When you begin to come out to non-gay people, your experiences will 

probably vary. Sometimes it will go well. Occasionally a relationship 

will be terminated abruptly or will fade away unexpectedly. 

From the experiences of many lesbians and gay men, their parents 

and friends, we offer a number of suggestions about coming out to

 non-gay people. You need to evaluate these suggestions in the light

 of my our own personal situation and needs.

    • Be clear about your own feelings about being gay. If you are 
    • still dealing with a lot of guilt or depression, seek help in getting 
    • over that before coming out to parents or other non-gay people. 
    • If you are comfortable with your gayness, those to whom you 
    • come out will often see that fact and be aided in their own 
    • renewed acceptance of you.

    • Timing can be very important in coming out. Be aware of the
    •  health, mood, priorities and problems of those with whom you
    •  would like to share your sexuality. The mid-life crises of parents,
    •  the relationship problems of friends, the business concerns of 
    • employers and countless other factors over which you have no 
    • control can affect another's receptivity to your information.

    • Never come out during an argument. Never use coming out as a
    •  weapon. Never encourage parents to feel guilty for having 
    • "caused" your sexual orientation--because they didn't.

    • When coming out to parents or family, try to affirm mutual 
    • caring and love before launching into your announcement 
    • about your gay or lesbian life.

    • Be prepared that your revelation may surprise, anger or upset
    •  other people, at first. Try not to react angrily or defensively.
    •  Try to let other people be honest about their initial feelings 
    • even if they are negative. Remember that the initial reaction 
    • will not likely be the long-term one. Ultimately the individuals 
    • who have really faced and dealt with their homophobia may be
    •  far more supportive than those who give an immediate but 
    • superficial expression of support.

    • Emphasize that you are still the same person. You were gay 
    • yesterday and will be gay tomorrow. If you were responsible 
    • and caring yesterday, likewise you will be loving and 
    • responsible tomorrow.

    • Keep lines of communication open with people after you 
    • come out to them--even if their response is negative. 
    • Respond to their questions and remember that they are 
    • probably in the process of reexamining the myths and 
    • stereotypes about gay people which we all have 
    • learned from our culture.

    • Be sure that you are well informed about homosexuality. 
    • Read some good books about the subject and share them
    •  with individuals to whom you have come out.

    • Encourage your parents or others to whom you come out
    •  to meet some of your lesbian and gay friends.

    • Remember that it takes many gay men and lesbians a very
    •  long time to come to terms with their own sexuality and
    •  even longer to decide to share the fact with others. When
    •  you come out to non-gay people, be prepared to give them
    •  time to adjust and to comprehend the new information about
    •  you. Don't expect immediate acceptance. 
    • Look for ongoing, caring dialogue.

    • If you are rejected by someone to whom you have come out, 
    • do not lose sight of your own self worth. Remember that your
    •  coming out was a gift of sharing an important part of yourself
    •  which that person has chosen to reject. If rejection does come,
    •  consider whether the relationship was really worthwhile. 
    • Is any relationship so important that it must continue in an
    •  atmosphere of dishonesty and hiding? Was the person really
    •  your friend or simply the friend of someone
    •  he or she imagined you to be?

    • Remember also that the loss of a friend is not the end of the
    •  world. Coming-out decisions must be made cautiously, 
    • but integrity and self-respect are extremely 
    • important in the long run.

    • A casual or offhand approach often works best with work
    •  mates and relatives. Sometimes a confrontational situation
    •  can be avoided simply by being honest, in a conversational
    •  way, about whom you live with and date, and how you spend
    •  your leisure time. The other person is given a chance to 
    • recognize the circumstances of your life and to admit to 
    • your homosexuality without being obliged to make some
    •  immediate response on this issue.

    • Remember that the decision to come out is yours. 
    • Don't be guilt-tripped into it by people who think that 
    • everyone must come out or by snooping people who ask 
    • impertinent questions. You can usually decide when, where,
    •  how, and to whom you wish to come out. At this stage in our
    •  society, full public declarations about one's sexuality are not
    •  necessarily the best decision for most people. 

    • Try not to let your family and close friends find out about
    •  your gayness from third parties such as neighbors or the 
    • media. Try to tell them personally beforehand.

    • Whenever you come out, reflect upon the 
    • experience and learn from it.

    • Never let yourself be pressured into 
    • coming out before you are ready.

  • Coming out is one of the most difficult things we do in our 
  • It won't always go well, but most of the time it is a very freeing experience.

What is 'coming out'?

The process of telling others about your sexuality 

(also known as 'sexual orientation') is often referred to as ‘coming out’.

 Coming out is not necessarily a one-off event - lesbians, gay men 

and bisexual people may have to come out many times during their lives.

There is no one prescribed way to come out as lesbian, gay or bisexual. 

You may feel comfortable being open about your sexuality with some 

people, but not with others. Coming out to certain people, such as family,

 friends or colleagues, may be difficult and takes courage. Reactions to

 someone coming out can range from very positive, to less welcoming.

 Once you have made the decision to tell people about your sexuality,

 you may want to think about how you tell them. We have set out a few

 thoughts on coming out, and links to places you can contact if you want

 further advice and support.

Why come out?

Whether you've come to terms with your sexuality or you're still thinking

 about it, it can be difficult dealing with that on your own. You may get to

 a point where you need to talk about it with someone, to get support or

 simply get it off your chest.

Don't feel under pressure to come out - take your time. Only you will

 know when you feel comfortable and ready to do it.

To hide your sexuality from other people often means lying and 

pretending. You will need to think about whether hiding your 

sexuality is more or less stressful than being open about it.

If you decide to come out, but are unsure how others might react, you

 could consider making contact with a support group first. There are

 helplines, community groups and agencies across the country who are

 there to support and advise you. See below for more details. It could also

 be good to start by telling one or two trusted friends first, before coming

 out to other people.

Where people feel safe being visible and honest about being gay, they

 may challenge the stereotypes and prejudice others might have about

 homosexuality. It may help them to revise their attitudes towards 

lesbians, gay men and bisexuals and in the long term it will help to tackle

 homophobia (hatred or prejudice against gay people).

If you do come out, but get a negative reaction, don't despair. 

Talk to someone for more support.

Generally, however, you may be surprised by how positive the

 experience of coming out can be. Very few people regret 

coming out, even if it is difficult at the time.

Helpful Resources and Information

Counselling Directory  

''Connecting you with professional 


Telephone: 0844 8030 240 (Lo-call rate 5p a minute from BT Landlines) 



Life Coach Directory  

''Connecting you with professional 


Telephone: 0844 8030 235 

(Lo-call rate 5p a minute from BT Landlines)