Table of Contents

Sex & Lifestyle - Coming Out:

Coming Out?
Am I gay?
Am I bisexual?
Who should I tell?
How will my friends react?
And why should I really tell anybody about it?

Coming out is perhaps not the easiest period boys and men go through, but it sure is one of the most important. Some guys find that coming out is associated with rejection and discrimination. Many others say that they have never felt such a wonderful feeling of freedom as when they came out and that coming out really has strengthened bonds with family and friends.

If you're considering coming out or are in the middle of it, the questions and answers below covering a whole range of aspects on the theme might help you to make your own personal decisions.

Coming out?

Coming out means in the first place that you yourself are clear that you are gay or bisexual and secondly that you tell your friends, family, colleagues at work – the whole circle of people with whom you have dealings – that you have now accepted the fact for yourself. Whether you do this, and just how you do this, is your decision and yours alone.

Why should I come out?

There are a million reasons for you to come out – but equally there are sometimes very good reasons not to. It's up to you and you alone to decide whether and how you should come out.

Let's first look on the positive side:

  • Apart from the sheer sense of relief that goes with finally telling someone what you are, there's a whole bag of other reasons in favour of coming out.
  • You can stop carrying a big secret around with you.
  • You can share your WHOLE life with the people who are dear to you.
  • You will be no longer in a permanent state of anxiety that somebody somewhere might find out.
  • You will no longer be under pressure to produce – or pretend to have – a girl friend.
  • AND you can at last start flirting with the guy round the corner whom you always found so cute ;-).

Apart from all that, your coming out can also give you a very special kind of self confidence – after all, you've coped with a really difficult situation in your life and come through it, and, even if you're not all that old, you've gained a whole load of very valuable experience. And this experience can stand you in good stead when you have to cope with other difficult situations in your life.

Of course, there's still another very good reason for coming out which might not seem all that important at first glance:
The more people come out and stand by being gay or bisexual the better it makes life for all of us; because only in this way can we show how many and how varied we are and demonstrate that our love and sexuality is just as valuable as that of the heterosexual kind.

Many boys and men who are secretive about their sexuality are so because of the particular situation they have to face, perhaps because there's a real danger they'll be thrown out of the house by their parents or because they might be bullied or isolated at school or because they might lose their job or because they're frightened of losing the love and respect of their family and friends. Or perhaps because they're financially or otherwise dependent on their parents. And many guys don't come out simply because they're not yet ready for it.

So if you don't want to or can't come out, that's fine. Don't let anyone put you under pressure! Some things just need to take their time.

It would help if you could talk with somebody who's been through his own coming out or somebody whose work is connected with coming out and who can give you some professional advice.

Their advice and experience can make coming out a whole lot easier for you, and what's most important, you'll feel less alone. At least it will be a big relief for you that you've finally been able to share what is so secret and so important for you with another person.

Phone a gay advice and support line, join a gay youth group, or go to a youth centre. Try your local library or visit web sites connected to the theme. But please remember that the Internet isn't always just like the real world so please keep safety in mind!

Who should I tell?

In most cases telling the friends you trust that you're gay or bisexual makes your relationship with them stronger. After all, friendships are built on mutual trust and showing such a mark of confidence in a friend can only strengthen these bonds.

If somebody should turn away from you just because you tell him that you're attracted to people of the same sex, then he never was your real friend anyway.

A lot of guys who've had their coming out later in life say that they've put it off and put it off because they've been frightened that all their friends would show negative reactions and distance themselves. But once they actually did come out they found that this anxiety was totally unjustified.

The bottom line is that although it's impossible to predict with absolute certainty how your circle of friends will react, very often it turns out that the fear and anxiety that results from your uncertainty is much bigger and much more threatening than the actual real-life situation.

What can I expect?

No two comings-out are ever the same. Some people will try to dish you all kinds of weird and wonderful reasons why you couldn't possibly be gay, whilst others might try to look for a "logical" explanation. Some people might be angry, sad, confused, incredulous or hurt. Some people won't mind one bit; others will be pleased for you or proud that you've had the confidence to be out in the open with them. And others will tell you that they've known all along ;-).

To get an better idea about how people around you might react, you could perhaps sound them out about their opinions on gayness and bisexuality. You can do this by watching their reactions when the conversation turns in this direction – perhaps because a programme on a gay-related topic is running on the TV. You could raise the subject yourself indirectly or just let others speak.

But when you do this you should bear in mind that people react differently when "gayness and bisexuality" is discussed on a general abstract level. It might be quite different when it's not a question of ├Čthem├« but of "my own son" or "my best friend".

One thing is for sure:
Coming out is an on-going process that never really ends. You are always going to meet new people who don't know you, and you'll see perhaps how often the subject of your own sexual identity comes up indirectly in the course of general chit-chat.

Instead of coming out with a full-frontal statement like "I'm gay" or "I'm bisexual" you might enjoy finding ways to introduce the topic casually. For instance, you could casually mention your boyfriend or say that you're really looking forward to this year's Gay Pride Parade or that your favourite clubs are all gay venues.

Even though you might be making these kinds of remarks in an off-hand, casual manner this doesn't mean that they are any the less important, because by making them you are preventing other people from making false assumptions about you and these unspoken assumptions can solidify around you like concrete, making it more and more difficult for you to come out – or break out – with each subsequent meeting.

SEX – What do I do when it starts getting serious?

Now we're getting close to the wire – let's talk sex! If you've found your "mate" and you and he want to get down to it, you should always remember a few key rules:

  • Only have Safer Sex! If it's anal sex use a lot of lubricant and NEVER forget the condom!
  • If it's oral sex don't get sperm in your mouth and NEVER swallow!
  • And don't let yourself be sweet-talked into anything because youth is no protection against AIDS! Your partner mustn't necessarily know for sure if he's HIV positive – or he could be simply not telling you the truth.
  • And don't let yourself be persuaded to do things in bed that you don't really want. Only do the things that you really want! This doesn't mean of course that you shouldn't listen to and respect the sexual needs of your partner but only go along with them when it's something you want as well.

One last tip:

Many guys have found that keeping some form of diary or journal during their coming out period is a big help. It's a place where you can put down your emotions, thoughts and experiences during this critical time. Perhaps keeping a diary's not your thing and you would be more comfortable with another medium like poetry, painting or music. Whatever's most suited to you yourself!

Even if you're writing only for yourself and nobody else is going to see it, you'll find that putting things down on paper is a good way of bringing some kind of order into your (conflicting) feelings and a good way of getting to know yourself better. But besides all this, it's also an excellent way of recording the progress you're making!

Just make sure that you keep your diary in a safe place so that it doesn't become the unwilling means of springing your coming out on you earlier than you reckoned with ;-).