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Should I tell my friends I'm gay before I leave school?

I am 18 years old and I am leaving school at the end of this year to go to university, which I'm really excited about. I have been at my school since I was 5 and have known pretty much all my friends for at least 7 years. I realised I was gay when I was fifteen but I tend to over think things so didn't say anything and haven't said anything since then to anyone. I know that some of my friends would be really supportive but over the years I have observed some of my other friends having distinctly homophobic views, mainly because of their religious teachings. With only 3 months left before moving on to a new chapter in my life, should I be honest with my friends at school or close the door to that part of my life? I have never denied being gay but have also never been directly asked, but am worried my friends will think I have been lying to them for a very long time. Or am I over thinking again?
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Sam

Hello,

Thank you for your letter, I’m glad you’ve got in touch. I can hear it’s a really exciting time for you, as you’re making the move from school to university. It sounds like you’re embracing this new chapter and I wondered if this is making you think about making other changes in your life.

You’ve told me you realised you were gay when you were fifteen. I can imagine that’s been a huge thing for you to keep to yourself. It sounds like the fear of getting a negative response has stopped you from sharing this with any of your friends.

You’ve described a strong friendship base that has been built over seven years. I can hear you’ve got mixed feelings about how your friends would react if you came out as gay, as you’ve observed some of them having distinctly homophobic views. It’s understandable this might make you feel conflicted about what to do. It’s great to hear that you know some of your friends would be really supportive. Being gay doesn’t change the type of friend you’ve been for the last seven years and you deserve to be fully accepted for the person you are.

I think you could be being tough on yourself by worrying that your friends will think you’ve been lying. Hopefully your friends will understand your reasons for not saying anything before now. Some might even have guessed your sexuality already but may not have known how to approach you about it. Also, remember that someone who identifies themselves as heterosexual doesn’t generally feel they have to make a choice about when or if to tell their friends, so you deserve to give yourself some recognition for having had to make this decision at all.

When making an important decision it can be good to think through all the options that might be available. You don’t have to choose between telling everyone or no-one in your friendship group. One option could be just telling the friends you feel would be supportive. It might help to picture yourself being in university and imagine having made each possible choice in turn. Which choice do you see yourself feeling most comfortable with? From what you’ve said, there’s no rush to decide. You could choose to tell your friends at any time, even after you have started uni. You might want to have a look at Young Stonewall’s website, to see some more advice about coming out.

No matter what you decide, ChildLine is here to offer you support. You’ve mentioned you are 18 and we do support young people up to the age of 19. There’s a page in Explore about turning 19 that lets you know about other forms of support that might be useful.

Good luck.

Take care,

Sam.

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