Let’s Talk: Coming Out
October is LGBT History Month and it’s also Let’s Talk Month, when we encourage parents and other champions in young people’s lives to talk with them about love, sex and relationships.
For many LGBTQ youth, coming out can be difficult. It’s an intensely personal experience. Some may prefer to just tell one or two people at first. Others tell many people at once, and some choose not to tell anyone at all. Awareness months/days/weeks can give the impression that there is a singular “coming out” moment or story, but for most LGBTQ people coming out is a process that repeats over and over in many different ways throughout their lives. If you have a young person who is LGBTQ in your life, you can make a meaningful difference in how their coming out process goes by showing unconditional support, strategizing with them about who they want to tell and when, and helping them find the words they want to use to talk about their identity and experience.
We collaborated with Real Talk, an app that allows teens and young adults to read and share their personal stories and experiences. Funded through Innovation Next, a partnership between IDEO and Power to Decide, Real Talk meets young people where they are, on their phones, and helps them connect with the experiences of other young people navigating the complexities of growing up.
This month, we are proud to share two coming out stories from real teens on the Real Talk app.
Real Talk User #1: “I said straight up, ‘I’m bisexual.’”
In the end of 6th grade I realized I was attracted to both Male and Female. I kept it a secret until the end of the summer when I decided to tell my cousin. I wanted to tell my cousin because she is in high school and I knew that she would be understanding. I pulled her aside and took her into the backyard where no one was. I told her, “I have something to tell you.” She replied, “Okay, what is it.” I said straight up, “I’m bisexual.” She said, “Oh really? I thought you were completely gay tbh.” We both laughed and she hugged me and said, “Does anyone else know?” And I replied, “No. And I don’t plan to tell anyone anytime soon” she nodded and zipped her mouth. We are extremely close and I am completely out and happy as can be that I didn’t wait until I was older.
Real Talk User #2: “The first person I came out to was my advisor.”
In middle school, the first person I came out to was my advisor. Sometimes I feel bad that I didn’t tell my mom or dad first but I really needed help on how to do it. My advisor helped me. I wrote a little speech and everything and practiced it on her. She was so great, no judging, and she’s not even gay. I told my sister next and then my parents. My parents took it hard but their good now. All in all, I think I was pretty lucky.
Both of these young people had confidence in a trusted adult/champion in their lives. You can be a champion to the young people in your life! Even if you don’t feel 100% confident having conversations about topics like sexuality and dating, telling a young person you’re there for them no matter what, keeping a neutral tone and expression, and guiding them to appropriate resources—or offering to learn with them—is essential to building and maintaining a trusting relationship.