Part One: Coming out as a Lesbian

Sexuality is deeply ingrained part of our identity and in the modern day many assume everyone is accepting, regardless of sexuality. However, unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to sexual orientation.

A report has shown that 84.6% of lesbian and gay students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed, and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. The LGBT Foundation states that “lesbian and bisexual women may be more likely to be affected by depression, anxiety and other mental health problems than heterosexual women”.

These factors make coming out a much scarier and more daunting experience.

This article is the first in an instalment of three, in which I will interview different people about their experiences of coming out and the reactions they received. These interviews will also expose issues that the LGBT community face which we need to overcome as soon as possible. It’s 2016 people!

When did you first come out?

I was nineteen, two and a half years ago!  

Who was the first person you told? And how?

I got very drunk and told one of my best friends from home on a night out – I could barely remember the next day!

What would have made it easier to tell people/tell people sooner?

If there wasn’t such a high chance of someone reacting negatively or it changing your relationship to them.

Did your family and friends react in the way you expected?

Quite a few of my friends said they already knew, which was pretty funny although could make some LGBT+ people feel like they have less control over their own coming-out narrative. Sometimes people even used it as an opportunity to come out to me, which was a bit weird.

What reactions have you had?

My favourite thing for people to do is to just be like “that’s cool/thanks for telling me” – something casual that doesn’t involve me answering lots of questions. (Although if you can, having the confidence to answer certain questions can help – it just feels quite overwhelming in the moment.)

Are there any stereotypes/perceptions that you would like to banish?

Loads! The idea that same-sex relationships are somehow “lesser than” heterosexual ones; that if LGBT people are open in public they’re flaunting their sexuality or being immoral (a lot of people say “I don’t like seeing ANYONE kiss in public,” but it’s obviously different when LGBT+ people can be threatened with violence merely by looking stereotypically queer or holding hands); that seeing LGBT people as sinners or otherwise “wrong” is an opinion we ought to respect, the same way you’d respect someone whose music taste or favourite TV show is different to yours. I also hate the sexualisation of lesbians – in a recent survey, ‘lesbian’ was the most-searched word on porn sites in the US. This makes it seem like gay women are simply a spectacle and not real people with real relationships.

What advice would you give someone who is yet to come out?

Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re confessing something you’ve done wrong when you come out. You’re good and worthwhile, and there is so much history and beauty in the LGBT community – your identity isn’t a flaw.