Dear 'The person about to come out',
Coming out is one of the bravest and most difficult things that you can do, and I know that a lot of people struggle with it every single day. So I'm also sharing my experience of coming out in the hopes that it will help someone else with their struggles. Here it goes *deep breath*.
I've known for a long time that I was gay. But in the beginning, I actually repressed it, convinced myself that I just wasn't. I was so sure that people would think I was weird or a freak if they knew. My perception of what a lesbian was, was so very far from the truth, just like my perception that no one would accept me for being who I really was.
Talking about coming out is important to me, because I remember what it was like. I remember being so afraid of who I was and worst of all, I remember trying to bury this real version of myself deep down inside. For me, that's all over now. I'm 18, I'm "out", I'm in a very happy relationship, and I'm no longer afraid to express myself or to be myself. But it's the memory of how lonely it can be, of being confused and feeling the need to hide your sexuality or gender identity that makes me want to reach out to those who might be feeling the same way.
I was 16 before I accepted that I was gay. At first, I only told close friends, still afraid that people would reject me. But in time, after meeting my girlfriend Clara, I came out completely and it's been the best decision that I've ever made. There have been a couple of bumps in the road, coming out was never going to be entirely easy, but the important thing is that I've stopped caring about what people think and started living my life the way I want to, on my terms.
The most important thing is this; come out! But come out when you're ready, and accept that maybe not everyone will understand. But also know this - there are so many communities and organisations and supports out there for you, people who want to help you through this. If it weren't for my family and friends, I wouldn't be half the person I am today, and I'd probably still be "in the closet". But I also owe my thanks to supports like SpunOut.ie, and BeLonGTo. Organisations like this are an absolute gift to young people, and you shouldn't be afraid to use them if you need advice, support or answers on stuff like sexuality, relationships and gender identity.
If there was one thing I could tell my 16-year-old self, it would be that I don't have to be afraid. That every person deserves love, respect and acceptance, and that coming out would make me so much happier. So many teenagers these days are hiding who they are because they're ashamed or scared, and this is me telling you (because I'm an expert, duh) that you do not need to be scared OR ashamed. You only get one life, one chance to be who you truly are, and you should grab it with both hands and run. The world is fast becoming a more accepting place, and you should be out here celebrating your uniqueness with the rest of us.
I'll leave you with this thought, and I hope we'll be seeing you at the next Pride parade, celebrating openly with other lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, asexuals and all the other wonderful individuals out there who deserve recognition.
"Path walker, there is no path. You must make the path as you walk."