Leading GB blind skier John Dickinson-Lilley (Twitter: @JDLskier)
Coming out is deeply personal. I got ‘found out’ by my parents in the mid-90s and it wasn’t fun. Instinctively, I’d say own the moment, the sense of liberation and empowerment you’ll feel when you come out is incredible. Coming out is an ongoing process, as LGBT+ people we continually have to come out in lots of different environments – a new job, new housemates, meeting new people – but in time it gets easier and really contributes to your sense of identity, it also helps you forge links with the LGBT community and discover a sense of solidarity.
The fact that we still have to come out is why Pride matters. The most important thing is that come out when it is right for you, you’ll put yourself under a great deal pressure to come out, you don’t need to do that. The most important thing is that when you come out, you’re in control and as confident as you can be that it’s the right thing for you. Being your authentic self is so powerful and when you reach the right moment, you’ll know, you’ll do it, and you’ll never look back.
Rugby commentator and journalist Nick Heath (Twitter: @nickheathsport)
LGBT+ people know that life regularly presents new moments where they have to consider outing themselves again. The good news is that I’m encountering less moments where people make assumptions about your partner or preferences. It’s up to any individual when to decide to be out among colleagues, just don’t let it make you unhappy.
Coming out professionally is probably best done without any fanfare. Allow simple phrases in conversation to do the work for you. Replace partner with boyfriend/husband or girlfriend/wife. If you’re single, perhaps you can refer to something LGBT-related as having resonance with you, to help get the message across. Failing that, tell a closer colleague and perhaps ask them if they might choose a moment to discreetly tell your colleagues because you’d feel more comfortable being out, but that you didn’t want to make any announcement.
Scotland and Harlequins rugby player Jade Konkel (Twitter: @JadeKonkel)
It is at your pace and your narrative. It is equally okay to want to make a bold statement to everyone at once as it is to slowly and quietly let those who you want to know. The most important thing to remember is that you deserve to be happy by being you.
Manchester Storm ice hockey player Zach Sullivan (Twitter: @ZachSully11)
I think coming out stems from being comfortable within your own skin. If you are confident about who you are and comfortable with your own sexuality it won’t seem like such a huge thing. I dream for the day when LGBT+ people don’t have to come out because no one cares – in a good way – and we can be who we are. However, the reality is that we do have to. I was in a very bad place in my teenage years, but I learnt from the experience to surround myself with people that simply don’t care about this kind of thing. I think being surrounded by people that don’t care about someone’s sexuality is very reassuring and a very comfortable situation to be in.
I started slowly by telling my friends and family, I was lucky enough to be in a situation that I knew they would still see me as the same person. Once I had their support and understanding, everyone else’s opinion didn’t matter that much to me, as I knew they had my back.
The most important ‘tip’ I can give is to take your time. The journey that LGBT+ people have to embark on is our journey, and our journey alone. Don’t be rushed into coming out by anyone. It is the one prerogative we have on our own individual journeys. It is ours and ours alone, take your time, it took me over nine years to get to where I am today. If it takes you two months, a year or even 20 years, that is absolutely fine. Take your time and make sure you are comfortable and confident enough with yourself.
I would be honoured if anyone going through a similar struggle to what I went through reached out to me. To be involved in someone else’s journey, however small a part you play, is an absolute honour. If I can help just one person then doing what I did is well worth it.
BBC radio presenter Jack Murley (Twitter: @jack_murley)
This is a tricky one – because no two coming out stories are alike. For some people, it’s a breeze and a doddle and something you can’t believe you were ever worried about; and for others, it can be traumatic and painful, and lead to the end of relationships and friendships that you’d always previously valued.
So really, it’s based on you, your circumstances and whether or not you feel ready to do it. If you are ready, here’s some practical advice I found helpful:
- Do it on a Friday night or at the weekend. I know this sounds odd, but I always thought that, if coming out goes ‘badly’, at least doing it on a Friday or the weekend would mean I didn’t have to go to work or college with my head all over the shop! It also gave me space to have those follow up conversations that whoever you tell may want to have, which was hugely helpful.
- If you’re coming out to family but your friends already know, let those friends know you’re planning on doing it. That way, they can be there to support you whatever happens – and that’s something we all need in life.
- Be kind when the other person responds. Some people you tell might chuckle to themselves and say “great, but we knew all along?!” – but others might be genuinely shocked, surprised or stunned. And, in those heat of the moment situations, they might be inclined to say something they regret, or wish they could take back after the fact. Sometimes being the person receiving the news may be as emotional as actually giving it, so cut that other person some slack.
And finally, I’d say this. If you’re not ready to come out, please don’t think you’re doing anything wrong by not doing so, because you’re not. You’re really not. You’ll do it when you feel good and ready, if you feel ready at all – and up until that point, you’ll have a load of people around you who will always have your back. And I’ll always be one of them.