Overview

Coming out as gay to family and friends can be a difficult time, this page has heaps of real stories and videos about other young people who have 'come out' - support and help s available.

Topic Videos

Kaki King talks about music and mental health

A 2013 Music Feedback Rockumentaries.
Steph sat down with Kaki King http://www.kakiking.com/, Guitarist/Composer from Atlanta Georgia to talk about mental health. Watch to hear about Kaki's thoughts on Coming Out, the importance of role models, music as a language of emotion and society's focus on consumption.

  • Author: Music Feedback
  • Upload Date: 2013-10-07

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Factsheet

Provided by Reach Out

We have partnered with Reach Out to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. Reach Out offers information, support and resources to help young people improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, and increase their coping skills and help-seeking behaviour.

Coming Out as Gay

What do people mean when they talk about "coming out"?

The term "coming 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, perhaps calling yourself gay, lesbian or bisexual and then deciding to tell others about your feelings and attractions.

coming out as gayOnce one begins to understand and learn more about their feelings and attractions they can start to feel comfortable with their sexuality. For some understanding and accepting their feelings and attractions is simple and straightforward; for others it is difficult. For all, 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. Organisations, such as your nearest branch of the AIDS Council, often run workshops around coming out. Alternatively the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service, an anonymous service, has counsellors who are experienced in discussing these issues.

You may want to tell someone else you trust to be understanding and supportive that you are gay, lesbian or bisexual. You might choose a friend or an adult. You will probably want to meet other gay, lesbian or bisexual people for friendship or a more intimate relationship.

Some young people are able to tell family and friends. A fact sheet called "Telling People I am Gay, Lesbian, or Bi" provides some things to consider before sharing your feelings with someone.

Unfortunately, you may not feel able to tell someone about your feelings at the moment and you feel that reality means that you have to keep your sexuality a secret. Remember, who you tell and when you tell them is your decision. The important thing is to be honest with yourself.

People who hassle me

How can I deal with people who hassle me because they think I am gay, lesbian or bisexual?

People within our society discriminate and can even be violent towards people who are perceived to be different. However, attitudes about sexuality have been slowly changing for the better and are more positive in many places. There are also many groups working to make things better for everyone.

No matter the reason, whether you are at school, work, TAFE, university 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 well-being need to be considered. Sometimes it 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.

Some suggestions for dealing with harassment are:

  • Tell friends you trust
  • Report it to someone in authority
  • Call a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer
  • Call the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service

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. Talk to someone you can trust or consider one of the phone services such as the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service, Lifeline or Kids help line. Alternatively you may want to look up the Help Near You database to find some services in your local area.

Reactions to "Coming out"

Just as you are unique, so is everyone around you and so they will all react differently. Some people will have no problems with your sexuality and be happy for you, some may have already suspected and were just waiting for you to tell them. For others it will challenge their feelings towards you. They may feel worried angry or responsible.

It may be necessary to allow them time and space. Shock, denial, and feelings of guilt are often experienced by people when they are told someone close to them is gay, lesbian or bisexual. Remember you have probably given your sexuality a lot of thought, but it may be new to them. Although the feelings they may work through are similar to those you've dealt with, the difference is that you're ahead of them in the process.

You may want them to understand and grasp this important part of your life right away and give you support. However, you may need to allow people time to express their own feelings. Try to be patient.

You may also need to explain things a few times. Just because you've said something once does not mean they have heard it. Later they may be ready to ask questions, listen to answers and acknowledge their feelings.

If your family or friends reject you because of your feelings, it is hurtful and can be difficult to cope with. Remember you are sharing an important part of yourself. If people choose to ignore this, they are missing out on knowing who you are. Hold onto who you are. Hold onto the fact that you are special and are individual. There are people who will help you reach out for their support.

If your family does ask you to leave home Kids Help line 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline 131 114 will be able to help you find accommodation, alternatively look up the Help Near you database for some services in your local area.

More Info

Call the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service in your state or territory:

ACT

Gay and Lesbian Telephone Help Referral and Outreach Bureau (THROB) - 02 6247 2726

QLD

Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association

(07) 3252 2997 (7-10pm)

Toll free (rural areas): 1800 184 527

SA

Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service

(08) 8422 8400 (Mon- Fri 7-10pm, Sat 2-5pm & 7-10pm)

Toll free (rural areas): 1800 182 233

NSW

Gay and Lesbian Line (02) 8594 9596

(5.30pm-10.30pm daily)

Toll free (rural areas): 1800 184 527

VIC

Gay and Lesbian Switchboard (03) 98278544

(6-10pm daily, Wed 2-10pm)

Toll free (rural areas): 1800 184 527

WA

Youthline (08) 9486 9855 (Tuesdays 1-4pm)

TAS

Gay and Lesbian Switchboard - 1800 184 527

These services are anonymous, and calls to a 1800 number do not appear on a phone bill. You can chat to someone about your feelings and they can answer many of your questions. They can also tell you about support groups and social functions.

Pick up a gay and lesbian newspaper. Every state has gay and lesbian newspapers that will tell you about what's on and how to access support and social groups. There are also national magazines available, some of which you can subscribe to.

Acknowledgements

Text adapted from "you're not alone", a booklet written by the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service (WA) and the WA AIDS council under the "Here for Life" sexuality project.

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