So I have been ‘officially out’ as a gay man for half a year now. I might not have all the infinite knowledge of George Takei, but the whole experience is still very fresh in my mind and for anybody planning on ‘coming out’ this post might (hopefully) be helpful. I can’t say anything about the future and wether it ‘gets better’ or whatever, but I can still give you a few tips:
1) Be prepared for the worst: That sounds a little harsh but don’t think because some other person’s coming out story was simple and easy, yours is going to be. I thought that and I had a rather hard time. My parents are pretty modern and they’re definitely not conservative, but they reacted very badly to me being gay. However its more than likely you won’t be disowned and end up living under a bridge eating rats with three tramps, so don’t let that put you off!
2) Tell friends/family/internet people who you trust first: Don’t jump straight in there and tell your parents. If they react badly you’ll have no moral support to fall back on – especially if they go all Sigourney Weaver from Prayers for Bobby on you. My parents were particularly angry that I’d already told people before them in case it ‘got out’, but I am ultimately relieved I told my flatmates first. If I’d have been completely alone in that situation it would’ve been awful.
3) Expect to be asked a lot of questions: Not just stuff like ‘who puts what where?’ and ‘what are your views on Lady Gaga’s new single?’ and ‘does this skirt match my shirt?’ Most people are genuinely interested to know more about it. Definitely expect a lot of ‘how did you know?’ and ‘when did you know?’ Obviously don’t answer anything you’re not comfortable with sharing, but don’t mistake curiosity for homophobia.
4) Expect your life to be like a series of Game of Thrones: For all you non-fans out there Game of Thrones is a series in which you’re never sure of who is going to live or die. Your life will become similar to that. No, no, don’t worry, your friends won’t start dropping dead cos you came out (though that would be a very interesting story) but you may find a few people stop talking to you. You can never quite be sure who will stop speaking to you. (Okay the whole Game of Thrones reference doesn’t really work that well, but I just love Game of Thrones so…) For me most people readily accepted it and remained my friends, but a certain few have loosened their ties with me. I promise all your true friends won’t care, especially in this day and age. But it’s always funny with family members.
5) Understand your parents: If they react badly, realise that they had a fully-formed image of you in their heads. They wanted you to do all these things and to get married and give them little bratty grandchildren etc etc. With the way things are going you can still marry and have children, but they won’t accept that immediately. Please know that any harsh words they use against you are used in the heat of the moment. People say ridiculous things when they’re angry.
6) Try your best to make your parents understand: The first thing most parents will think about when you come out is a sex. ‘Oh my god has he been sleeping with HIV-positive forty-year-old men called Pablo and Ricardo in the alleyway behind Club Booty!?’ Sadly the media doesn’t broadcast much in the way of proper homosexual relationships, just the sex. They might be disgusted by the idea. Try and explain to them that it isn’t just about the sex and that you truly see yourself having a loving and healthy relationship, just like a straight person. Tell them you didn’t choose to be this way, just as they didn’t choose to be heterosexual. If you are just in it for the sex…just don’t tell them that!
7) Don’t self-loathe: I know that sometimes it’s unavoidable. I really do. I hated myself for a good long while before and after I came out. I still occasionally get down about it but in the long run you are a obviously a very strong person for being true to who you are. Can you taste the fucking cheese, cos I can.
8) Don’t change: Just cos you identify as gay/lesbian, that doesn’t mean you have to act in a certain way. People often expect gays to suddenly love makeovers and lesbians to cut their hair short and wear nose piercings. Obviously many gay people are feminine/masculine (depending on your gender) and that’s fine too. Just be whoever and whatever is most natural to you.
You might be rather depressed about being gay. You might think you’re a glitch in humanity, a bit of corrupted data, a dead-end in the evolutionary tree, but you’re not. You’re living and breathing and thinking and loving. Think of it like this: you are a Limited Edition Human (Gay Edition) – sponsored by Ben Cohen and manufactured by Elton John.