What is coming out?

Coming out is the process of telling people that you are gay. Coming out is often referred to as 'coming out of the closet'. The closet represents the hiding of your sexuality.

'After being with my boyfriend for a while I decided to tell my parents that I was gay. At first there were tears, loud voices and a few broken dishes but eventually they were also fine with it. I feel as though maybe my mother isn't pleased about it, but she's coming to terms with it. My father's really fine with it though reminds me that Travellers often like to feel strong, so anything that's seen as weak or not belonging to the community is often pushed aside or ridiculed. They both treat me the same and nothing's changed. I'm still their son and I've been accepted for who I am.'

- Michael

Coming out can be:

  • Complete, or 'out to everyone': you tell most people and don't generally mind who finds out.

  • Controlled, or 'out to certain people': you tell selected people, perhaps close friends and relatives who you trust to keep the news to themselves

Benifits of coming out:

  • Coming out is a big step forward in terms of accepting yourself and saying to the world that you think it’s okay to be gay and that you don’t think you should have to hide your sexuality any longer. It’s assertive, a confidence boost and can kick-start a new chapter of positive change in your life.

Being honest with yourself about your sexuality is the first step toward coming out.

  • Coming out can bring you closer to your friends and family. When a person is worried about their sexuality and trying to hide it, the secrecy creates a distance between that person and the people he or she cares about. Once the truth is out, a gay person often becomes more relaxed. They can be themselves and allow their friends and family to get to know them much better.

  • It’s easier to meet other gay people if you are out, go on dates and have a relaxed social life without secrets and sneaking around. Spending all your time trying to pretend that you are straight creates an obstacle for a potential gay friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. An out gay person is more accessible and easier to get to know for other gay people.

  • You may find that coming out gives other gay friends the courage to do the same. You may be surprised how many other gay people seem to appear once you get the ball rolling. I remember starting a new job a few years ago. There was one man in the office who I had a feeling was gay. When he saw how people responded to the news of my homosexuality, he promptly came out, and seemed much happier and more relaxed in the office.

  • Coming out is on *your* terms, you don't have to if you don't want to. Your no less or more a person. As everyone's life is different and ultimately we all have to live our own lives the way we choose.

  • Challenges of coming out

  • Not everyone is willing to accept homosexuality. Often from their own internalised homophobia, or religious ideals. This presents itself with a challenge, but eventually we all have to make peace with living the life we want to live.

  • Social isolation. The Travelling community is a small one, and when threatened will often isolate and ostracise members who do not follow the common trend. If you come out be ready for some gossip, rumours and whispers, but also be prepared for unexpected acceptance and understanding from people we all to often think are arrogant.

  • Sometimes family pressures and a need to “keep a good name” can put a lot of pressure on Gay Travellers. In which the family know but do not, in fear of bullying or violence want the person to come out fully. This is something that each person must come to their own terms with and is perhaps best discussed with family, if and when the time arrives.

  • Misinformation. Simply being gay does not not mean you are a pervert, possessed or that you are HIV positive. Communication and informative sites like this can be a vital key in washing away the rumours from the fact.