9 tips after you have come out as lesbian, gay or bisexual
Okay, so you were hoping the tough part was over; you’ve already come out to your friends and family and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. But now you feel worried about what lies ahead – that’s totally natural. You might be thinking to yourself ‘what’s next?’ or ‘where do I go from here?’ and so with this in mind, we have compiled 9 tips to help guide you now you have come out as lesbian, gay or bi.
1. Walk, don’t run.
This is sage advice for all big changes we experience in life, and very true for coming out. Now you no longer have to hide who you are, take the time to learn about what you want. Avoid rushing into situations and scenarios you are not quite ready for as they may place you in a position of hurt further down the line. Go at your own pace.
2. Not everyone will ‘get it’ and that’s ok.
You might encounter people who find it challenging to support or understand your sexuality; remember that this is their issue to work through and not yours. You did not decide to be gay, lesbian or bi any more than you chose the name you were given at birth. Your acceptance of your sexuality does not rest on 100% of the people you know and love, supporting you and giving you permission. It rests on you being able to 100% support and love yourself.
“Go at your own pace”
3. Never go back.
As our lives continue to change, we meet new people, move jobs, cities – maybe even countries! It is important that you meet these new scenarios and people as your authentic self, be that gay, lesbian or bi. Don’t undo all the work that you put in – embracing and accepting yourself as you are can take time – you’ve made it this far, so try not to revert back to old habits. However, it is also important to trust your instincts; in any environment, you don’t feel safe, pause before you speak – your safety and wellbeing should always come first.
4. There is no right way to live.
Your sexuality is just a small fraction of who you are as a person. It does not define you. Our society still has many outdated stereotypes around gender and sexuality, but how you choose to live your life is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong way to live – carve your own path.
“There is no right or wrong way to live”
A community is extremely important. Reach out and find people that accept you for you. Finding support and connecting with people who understand you and what you are going through, will help you deal with any changes and transitions that might lie ahead.
6. Don’t feel pressured to conform.
Now you have come out, you might have expected to easily assimilate into your local LGBT+ community. There is a possibility that you might not feel 100% like you belong, or maybe you feel like you don’t fit in – don’t worry if this is the case. You are a unique individual and everyone expresses themselves differently, so don’t feel pressured to dress or act a certain way if it doesn’t come naturally. This is true for all aspects of life too, and all people, regardless of sexuality.
Remember that you are perfect just the way you are and not alone in sometimes feeling alone.
7. Life doesn’t instantly get better.
There is a myth that when you come out, life gets instantly better. It’s easy to understand where that belief comes from; you are no longer suppressing your true self or living in fear that someone might reveal your secret. Not having to deal with the daily stress of having to hide your sexuality is a massive relief in itself. But don’t be alarmed if things don’t fall into place as quickly as you would like or exactly how you imagined they would. For some people, it can get worse before it gets better. The freedom you are searching for will come, but it takes time.
“Don’t be alarmed if things don’t fall into place as quickly as you would like or exactly how you imagined they would”
This can be very nerve-racking, especially on a first date. Putting yourself out there is scary whatever your sexuality. You might feel paranoid that everyone is watching you, but they really aren’t. The good news is dating does get much easier as you become more comfortable with not having to hide who you are to others and yourself.
9. Keep reaching out to those who love you unconditionally.
Keep reaching out to those that love you and support you. If you experience any negativity, homophobia, or bi-hate make sure you tell someone – even if you don’t want to report it, it is important you share with someone what you are going through. You shouldn’t go through something like this alone as it is extremely stressful, and can be emotionally draining and taxing to endure bullying. This stress can have an impact on all areas of your life, including your mental wellbeing, ability to communicate with others, performance in school/work, self-esteem etc. It is therefore incredibly important that you tell somebody you trust about what you are going through; it doesn’t even have to be an adult – it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. It is vital, during a traumatic time, that you have a support system and people who you can rely on when you are feeling low, or unable to cope.