This article was originally published on The National Student.
Writing this shouldn’t be difficult at all; I myself came out at university almost two years ago. But it’s surprisingly tricky. This is perhaps because there’s not a rule book on coming out and there’s definitely no set way of doing it.
Everyone discovers themselves in different ways and at different times. It wouldn’t be viable to tell someone how or when to make their sexuality public. But for people about to start university who may be in the situation I was a couple of years ago, about to start a brand new life in a brand new place, I can definitely share some advice.
Firstly, it’s important to note that before I began university, the confusion I was suffering from regarding my sexuality was weighing me down. I wasn’t confident in the person I was at all, I’d never told a soul I was gay and I was probably the complete opposite to the person I am now. This isn’t all because of coming out: I felt like I had to do it and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I think I was fairly lucky in my coming out process; I never encountered any problems other than ones caused by me, like nerves. I just bit the bullet and went for it. It’s not an easy thing to do, of course. In fact, at the time it’ll seem like one of the hardest thing you’ll ever do. What’s important is that deep inside you know that you’ve accepted yourself and that you’re happy or on the way to being happy with who you are. If this is the case, there’s no reason at all why you should be hiding away.
There are lots of different ways to come out, face to face being the most obvious. But via text or a letter is also aesthetically possible, even if it seems like the wrong way of going about it. I’ve done all three and they all worked fine, in their own ways. None of them affected the long term results and coming out via text is actually a great way to set up a face to face meet up.
There’s one thing you should probably avoid, though; telling people when you’re drunk. Whilst I won’t lie and say that’s something I’ve never done, by doing this you do run the risk of them forgetting and having to tell them all over again. It’s also likely that as a person under the influence, you’ll have totally blurred and poor judgement; it’s much better to sit down and chat to someone when you’re sober. That way you know you’re definitely ready for them to know.
Remember also that whilst your friendship group at uni will probably become pretty tight knit it’s totally fine if you test the water by telling one friend in confidence for a while. It’s overwhelming if you tell every Tom, Dick, Harry and his dog at once; let people know gradually if you want less of a reaction. It worked for me and it didn’t spread like gossip in a schoolyard, either.
Definitely also be prepared for questions if you’re planning on coming out at uni. People are bound be interested about you and who you are and they’re bound to want to know things like ‘how long have you known?’ and ‘why are you only just coming out now?’ Having answers to questions like this will show you’re ready and that you understand who you are.
Billie Myers is a singer who shot to fame in the UK and internationally in the 90s with hit single ‘Kiss The Rain.’ As a bisexual, she’s been open in the past about her sexuality and the struggles she’s had with it. She got in touch with TNS to provide some important advice if you’re thinking about coming out at uni:
“Being away at university offers you the perfect opportunity to live more openly but this doesn’t mean you have to do anything that will make you uncomfortable.
“My advice would be to start by joining your uni’s LGBT society as they’re a great source of support and even more importantly are a brilliant way to meet other gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual students!”
Joining an LGBT society is a great place to start. They’re normally free to join and the people you meet there won’t judge you for who you are and they’ll be the perfect people to talk to about how you’re feeling. You may even make some of your best friends by joining. This was one of the first steps I took when I began coming out and it helped me to realise how okay it was for me to be open about who I was.
It’s inarguably a great time to be gay in England at the moment, with gay marriage recently legalised and people generally becoming much more accepting. Once you’ve accepted yourself, you should definitely be ready for the world to accept you. Just be yourself and you should always find happiness.