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 lots of different people at different times. Or you might not want to come out to anyone.

If you decide to come out, 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

Watch: Ben Hunte talks about coming out

Come out in a message

If you’re struggling to say something out loud, sending a message or writing a letter can be a good way to start a conversation with someone you trust.

It can help to: 

  • find a time to do it when they are not busy or about to rush off somewhere
  • distract yourself with hobbies and things you enjoy after you've sent the letter, this can help you feel less anxious
  • plan what you want to do if things don’t go well.

Download our Conversation starter to get ideas to help you write your thoughts.

You can’t always control how people will react when they see your message or letter. Whatever you're going through, you can always get support from Childline.

Not being accepted

Not being accepted after you’ve come out can make you feel isolated or scared, especially if the people around you are homophobic, transphobic or it's against their beliefs. You might be worried about whether you’ve made the right decision and not be sure what to do next. But there are ways to get help.

Keeping safe

There are times when young people feel unsafe coming out. 

It’s never okay for someone to hurt you because of your sexuality or gender identity. Whatever you're going through, you’re not alone.

If you’re worried about your safety now or in the future, it’s important to get help. In an emergency you should always phone 999.

A safety plan is a list of important numbers, people and places to go if anything goes wrong. Having a safety plan can help if you’re worried that you will be hurt because of your sexuality or gender identity.

Make sure a safety plan is written down somewhere you can easily find it. Writing it on paper can help to make sure you’ve got it if your phone battery runs out or you can’t take your phone. Write down:

  • Important numbers to ring if something goes wrong, including safe adults, the police (101) and Childline (0800 1111)
  • Places you can go if you’re feeling unsafe, and information on how to get there
  • Things to take with you if you need to leave quickly, make sure you include things like a phone charger.

If you’re ever worried about your safety or what might happen in the future, Childline can help.