Led by You have collected some of our young people’s coming out stories for #BelfastPrideWeek that they kindly agreed to share with everyone along with some advice for other young people who might be in this stage of their life.
First up we have Erin! 😀
I didn’t even really realise I was gay until I was about 23. I come from a fairly conservative religious family, so I was very worried about how they might react. I started by telling some friends who I knew would be okay with it, so that I could have some people that would support me if it went badly with my family.
I was terrified that this would ruin the close relationship I had with my parents and for a while, that stopped me from telling anyone else, in case it got out. I finally felt ready to tell my parents, around a year or so later. I ended up writing two letters, one for my mum and one for my dad, as I didn’t know how to even begin saying what I needed to say.
I included lists of people they could speak to for support and books to read, as I understood that they probably would need support too. I gave them the letters separately and they took it way better than I thought they would. We disagree on a lot, especially around marriage equality and that was difficult to know that they wouldn’t necessarily want to come to my wedding. I met my (now) wife 6 months after coming out and we are now married for just over a year, having got married in Wales before marriage equality here.
My parents have done a lot of thinking over the last few years, and while they nearly didn’t come to our wedding, they did and get on well with my wife. My advice to anybody coming out is this – coming out is not something that I think you *have* to do, but rather something you can do when you feel ready, and feel in a safe enough place to do so. Knowing that I would have my friends and community to support me even if it went badly, gave me the confidence to tell my parents when I was ready to.
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