Coming out

‘Coming out’ means telling someone about your sexuality or gender identity. It can take time to feel ready to tell people about this part of yourself, but we’ve got advice to support you.

When should I come out?

Telling someone about your gender or sexuality doesn’t just happen once. You could ‘come out’ to different people at different times. You might be worried about:

  • how they’ll react
  • whether they’ll understand and support you
  • if they’ll tell anyone else
  • that you might be discriminated against or bullied.

Coming out can help you to feel less isolated and more accepted, but it’s important to be ready. There’s no right or wrong time to come out to someone about your sexuality or gender identity. Only you can say when the right time to come out is. If you’re not sure who to speak to first, remember that you can always talk to us.

Things to think about before you come out

  • Who you trust to tell
  • When to have the conversation
  • Whether to tell someone face-to-face, over the phone or in a letter or message
  • How to stay safe and take care of yourself if someone reacts badly
  • What you’d like to say
  • If you want to tell just one person or more
  • How you might feel afterwards

Tips for coming out

Plan

  • Decide who to tell

Try telling someone you trust first to see what it feels like.

Coming out to people you feel comfortable with can help make you feel more supported.

  • Bring it up slowly

Try talking about LGBTQ+ people on TV or in the news to see how someone responds.

Or ask what they would think if someone else came out.

  • Plan when to do it

Find a time when you can talk privately and you won’t be distracted or disturbed.

It can help to think about things you could do afterwards and how to leave if you want to.

Practice

  • Go over what you’d like to say

Write down what you’d like to say or practice in front of the mirror. You could try coming out anonymously on our message boards to see how it feels.

  • Put it in a letter

If you’re worried about talking face-to-face, try sending a message or a letter.

  • Think about what you might be asked

People might have different questions when you come out. It can help to think about what they might ask and how you could answer. Remember, you don’t have to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable.

  • Say whether they can tell anyone else

Decide whether you’re okay with the person you come out to telling other people. And think about whether there’s anyone they definitely shouldn’t tell.

Afterwards

  • Be prepared for different reactions

The person you tell might not react how you would like. Or they could have guessed already. Remember, someone’s initial reaction might be different to how they’ll feel after they’ve had time to think about it. It can help to have a plan of what to do if someone reacts badly or not how you expected.

  • Celebrate

You’ve done a brave and brilliant thing, so if you feel like having a party or going out with your friends or family, do it! But if you want to spend some time quietly by yourself or with someone you trust, that’s fine too. Do whatever makes you feel happy and comfortable.

  • Get support

Whatever happens when you try to come out, it can help to talk about it. You can speak to a Childline counsellor, or share your experience on our message boards.

Keeping safe

There are times when young people do feel unsafe coming out. You might be worried about how your family or community will react. Or whether you’ll be bullied or treated badly.

It’s never okay for someone to hurt you because of your sexuality or gender identity. If you’re worried about your safety, you’re not alone.

Making a safety plan is really important if you’re worried about people reacting badly to your sexuality or gender identity. You could have the plan written down, or saved somewhere only you can access. It can include:

  • Important numbers to ring if things go wrong, including the police and Childline
  • Places you can go if you feel unsafe, and information on how to get there
  • Adults or friends you trust who can help to keep you safe

If you’re ever worried about your safety or whether you can stay at home, it’s important to get support. Speak to a Childline counsellor or get support from the Albert Kennedy Trust. In an emergency, always phone 999.

Coming out is a journey

Coming out is different for everyone. Join Calum, Amelia, Maja and Jenny to hear their stories.

Supporting someone who’s coming out

When someone comes out, it might be a surprise at first. But it shouldn’t change how you feel about them.

Make sure you listen, accept them and show that you’re there to support them. Remember, sexuality and gender identity isn’t a choice and it’s only one part of what makes them who they are.