Coming out is when a person accepts and appreciates their sexual orientation or gender identity and shares it with others. Not everyone comes out the same way. However, the first step usually involves coming out to yourself, often with a realisation that feelings you’ve had for some time make sense if you can define them as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or something else.
It is a deeply personal choice with whom this is shared with and if you are thinking of coming out, know that there is no one right way to do this. You may feel comfortable being open about your sexuality and gender identity with some people, but not with others.
What to do
Why come out
Our sexuality is part of our personal identity. Hiding part of your identity can lead to emotional pain and unhappiness. Reasons people choose to come out include:
- to be able to live an open life;
- to meet other same-sex attracted people;
- to have more meaningful relationships with family and friends;
- for self-respect and self-esteem; or
- to remove the stress from feeling the need to ‘hide’ their sexual identity.
What to know about coming out
Coming out is a deeply personal decision. You should not feel that you have to do this and if you do want to, take your time.
Coming out is a process and often is not a one-thing thing. Every time an LGBTQIA+ person meets someone new, they must decide if, when and how to come out.
Only you will know when you feel comfortable and ready to do it. Commons concerns about coming out include:
- loss of relationships with friends and family;
- loss of a spiritual foundation through rejection from a church, mosque, temple;
- loss of financial support;
- harassment or abuse;
- threat of physical violence;
- discrimination; or
- loss of employment or discrimination by an employer.
These concerns are normal, and it can help to talk to someone you trust, someone who has gone through coming out themselves or a counsellor. Deakin is a safe and inclusive organisation that values students of all gender and sexuality so you can feel safe and supported to come out in this environment.
Speak with a counsellor through the Deakin's Counselling service. Deakin Pride (Burwood) and Deakin Geelong Queer Collective are safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTIQ+, Queer or Questioning students and allies to meet and socialise.
headspace host free online chat sessions for young people who are questioning or are interested in learning about trans and gender diversity or sexuality.
Lifeline (13 11 14) is a non-profit organisation that provides free, 24-hour telephone crisis support service in Australia.
QLife provides anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.
13YARN (13 92 76) is a shame-free, safe place to yarn with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter.
More help and advice
Australia’s eSafety Commissioner provides information on cyber safety and being out, trans or gender diverse online.
ReachOut provide a comprehensive guide to culturally diverse LGBTQIA+ support services and groups in Australia.