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Coming out to others

Who should I tell first?

Many gay people describe how important it is to tell someone outside the family first. However, while there have been some moving coming out 'live' moments on YouTube we don't recommend this is where you come out first. Make sure it’s someone you trust and whom you believe to be open minded and supportive.

Think carefully if you decide to confide in a teacher at school – they may be obliged to tell someone else what you have told them. Find out the school policy on confidentiality before you go ahead.

If you have decided to tell your family it may be easier to talk to one parent before the other. You could then ask them for help in approaching the other.

Sometimes brothers and sisters are a good starting point as they are likely to understand more about homosexuality or bisexuality. Make sure you understand why you are going to tell them. One of the best reasons to come out to your family is to become closer to them.

There are a number of typical responses that parents, particularly, are known to say:

  • "How can you be sure?"
  • "I went through a phase like this at your age."
  • "You’ll grow out of it."
  • "You haven’t tried hard enough with the opposite sex."
  • "How can you know at your age?"

Perversely, at the one time you need support and acceptance you may find yourself defending who you are. It may come as a shock if whomever it is you tell may say the strangest and most hurtful things. Be prepared for this and perhaps practice answering the above responses.

It’s definitely worth thinking about how you respond to these questions before you tell anyone. You might find it helpful to discuss these questions first with a trusted friend or a lesbian and gay helpline or switchboard.

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