A couple of years ago I told my older brother I’m a lesbian. Given that we’re pretty close and I can talk to him about anything, I figured he’d be pretty relaxed about it. One afternoon at Southland, we were looking through calendars in a gift shop and I absent mindedly murmured “that girl is really hot”.
I’ve always been pretty open about my sexuality. In fact, ever since I was 12, I knew I wasn’t straight. I chose to answer people honestly if they ever asked, and it never felt like a really big deal. When I was 16, I felt I had fully come to terms with my sexuality, and felt the term pansexual really described how I felt.
When I came out at school, I hadn’t really planned it. I had just attended my first Minus18 event, and a video was posted online, and I thought I’d share it on Facebook. Awkwardly, I was in the video and almost everyone one of my classmates commented on it, “wow! You’re gay, you’re actually gay. Faggot.” and other cruel things like that. It was too late to take it back, so I just embraced it. I deleted the status, changed my ‘interested in’ on my account, and went to school. There wasn’t a single person at school that wasn’t talking about it, it was the best goss since one of the teachers left the school two weeks after starting. I lost a lot of friends that week, but I also discovered who my real friends were. They were the ones that stuck up for me.
The hardest part about coming out for me was figuring out what to say to other people. Every time I came out to someone new I tried to make it seem as casual as possible, sliding it into conversation somehow.I’d spend weeks coming up with ways to turn conversations onto the right topic and planning out answers to things they might say.
I came out to my family when I was in year 9. I’d recently started a relationship with my first boyfriend and we’d been hanging out every chance we had. My parents had begun to find it strange how much time I wanted to spend with my new ‘friend’, but didn’t question it. One day, we were sitting in my room together, cuddling on my bed. Suddenly the door starts to open and the two of us jumped back from one another. Mum walked in just as we flew to opposite sides of the bed. The penny finally dropped, and mum awkwardly stuttered “I-It’s alright Scott, you don’t- it’s okay” and closed the door. Awkward. I was a bit shaken and avoided her for the rest of the day. Eventually, Mum confronted me and asked what was going on. At first I was reluctant to talk about it and tried to dismiss it, but eventually told her I was bi. The next morning Dad knocked on my door, he sat on my bed and said “Mum told me about last night”. I cautiously asked “Are you okay with it?”. Dad was silent for a while, then suddenly responded “Scott, you like boys and girls, I like Asian women. Neither of us can help that, it’s just who we are”.
My family was pretty poor growing up. As a teenager, I always wanted to stand out and make an artistic impact. I became known for my outrageous fashion often arriving at cafes dressed in leg warmers, stockings, bikini briefs, dinner suits, colourful makeup, elaborately decorated high heeled shoes and heavily hennaed hair affecting an androgynous image.
Transgender, 16I’d been talking to a friend about being transgender for a few months and had come to terms with the fact that, while born a girl, I wanted to be physically male.
Although I’d often casually talk about it with him, I wasn’t ready to tell everyone yet, especially not my best friend. She’s always been a good, supportive person, but she comes from a traditional family and I wasn’t really sure how she’d take it.
During our school ski camp, some of the girls decided to give me a ‘makeover’- I reluctantly agreed, and they gathered around me, applying makeup, doing my hair, and changing my clothes It was a pretty overwhelming experience for me, and before they could finish I ran and hid. I burst into tears, and couldn’t stop.
I hated feeling trapped and pressured by the girls, being dressed up to look womanly made me feel bulky and disgusting. Eventually my best friend found me. She tried to comfort me, but couldn’t understand why I was so upset.
Suddenly I didn’t care anymore, I told her that I wanted to be male and waited for her anger or rejection. Instead she was calm and kind. Smiling, she said “I figured as much, I’ve noticed how you’ve been trying to look less feminine, you could have told me.” I don’t think I could have asked for a better reaction.
Gay, 17Around 13 I found myself noticing other guys. I hated it, and every time I found myself drifting off into some deep lustful trance I would feel dirty afterwards. Somehow I managed to convince myself that everything would be alright and I’d revert back to “normal” and forget the entire experience. Looking back, how I managed to do this for two years is beyond even me. By the time I hit about 15 I realised I had to accept myself for who I am. Over a few months, I did a lot of looking online, eventually realising it wasn’t all that bad. But that didn’t prevent me from being scared beyond belief of anyone finding out!
Eventually I reached the point where I was bursting to tell someone, anyone. Luckily one of my friends had recently come out, and having him to talk to made made things so much smoother. Sure, some people were completely shocked and didn’t quite know how to react, but others were completely ecstatic about it. Within the one day it seemed I’d told everyone I knew.
It takes more than just courage to come out; it takes time and a fair bit of mental preparation. But the reality is, you can never be truly prepared. Although some of the people I told weren’t that great about it, in the long run it showed their true colours. Now I know who my real friends are, I can be open about myself and it’s been amazing ever since.
Lesbian, 19I had my first ever crush on a girl in grade six. It was totally new and exciting and something I’d never felt before. It wasn’t until grade 7 that I realised that I liked girls, and only girls. I developed pretty strong feelings for one of the girls in my class, and I felt shattered on the weekends and school holidays, because I couldn’t be near her. Funnily enough, it wasn’t until sometime afterwards, when I was sitting in my room one night when it just hit me. Bam! I realised I’m a lesbian.
Telling my mum was a gradual process over a couple of months,. I remember going for long car trips with her, and I’d drop hints. I’d say stuff like “I don’t really feel comfortable when I date guys” or “Dating guys feels weird to me. I haven’t really liked a guy yet”. Sometimes I’d make comments like “that lady is so pretty”, hoping that she would take the hint.
Finally being honest about my sexuality was the hardest thing ever. It was really emotional and I had to hold back tears. Mum and Dad had always said to me that they’d love me no matter my sexuality; I still couldn’t help but be worried though.
At 16, I wrote a note to mum, gave it to her, and walked away crying. Mum followed after me and gave me a huge hug. The weight of the world came off my shoulders. That same night, I told my dad. He gave me a “who cares?” attitude, so that was kind of cool.
A few months later I told my sister while watching TV. While she was accepting, she told me about her gay friend getting bullied at school, and she was worried that the same thing would happen to me. Finally deciding to tell everyone, I came out to my close friends by Facebook messages. It got annoying typing individual messages so I just thought “what the hell?” and posted it in my Facebook status. It got something like 70 likes and 100 comments, so it made me feel a lot better! Everyone at school was talking about it, but no one gave me grief about it.
Bisexual, 19I first came out as bisexual to two people, my best friend and my boyfriend. My best friend quickly told the entire school, not in a mean way, but the constant questions sucked. My boyfriend accused me of cheating - “how else would you know you were bi?” - but eventually got over it. A few months after that I listed my orientation as “bi” on MySpace just so people wouldn’t have to keep pestering me. I didn’t really care what anyone thought, except my parents who I don’t share much about myself with.
One day I left my computer on and went to school. When I came home mum sat me down and asked if what my MySpace said was true. I freaked out and ran upstairs. I wasn’t ready to talk about it with my parents, even if they were. It took me another 5 years to finally come out to my parents, after testing the water by talking about going to a marriage equality rally and Minus18 events. I honestly don’t know what I was so scared of! Mum said she had figured out it wasn’t just a phase and that she loved me no matter what.
The only thing that really changed was that I could finally talk openly about my views on marriage equality and how I started up a gay-straight alliance at my school, which my parents were proud of and now boast about to their friends! Coming out seemed like SUCH a big deal at the time but now I don’t know why I was so scared. Being bi is only one small aspect of who I am and if someone has a problem with it, well, that’s their problem.