Ambassador voices: Coming out can be lonely

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Hey, I’m Amy! I’m 20, a Health and Social Care student, and a GenNOW Ambassador and chat moderator at The Mix. I use They/She pronouns. I’m genderqueer, and pansexual! And I love all things mental health.

When you’re coming out, if you have done but it’s not been accepted, if you’re in the closet, or even if you’re thinking about it, it can be a very lonely and isolating time. Despite there being many people around you, it can feel like nobody is by your side. For many, accepting you are different and not within the binary can make you feel somewhat separated from the majority. Individuals may hide their sexuality and/or gender due to risk of discrimination. This can be very socially isolating.

Despite the crowds of fans Elton John always had, you can see in Rocketman just how lonely he was; sometimes it’s about more than having people around you. Sometimes we need that deeper connection – the truth is you can be in a sea full of people and still feel like you’re alone.

My personal experience of coming out and loneliness

It was a rather lonely time when I was discovering my sexuality and gender. Although I had a feeling my parents would be okay with it, there was still a tension behind telling them. And I guess even now I still don’t often disclose it, almost as if it’s a bit awkward. I always knew I liked the same sex, so did my dad. I was figuring out whether I liked the opposite sex too.

When I came out, it was pretty well received but my mum was reluctant about a few things, noticeably whether I would have children, and me cutting my hair quite short. I remember her worrying whether I wanted to be a boy, and me explaining that I didn’t want children, but it wouldn’t change that if I did. And that I was just expressing who I was.

It can be really disheartening when family or even friends react badly to you coming out; when the ones you cherished most don’t accept you for who you are it can be really lonely.

My advice for coming out

Coming out can be a really scary time, and it’s best to do it when you’re ready and comfortable.

If you do wish to come out to anyone there are many ways you can tell them! Such as, the classic sitting down and having a conversation. If you prefer a different approach you can always write a letter, send them a text, or even tell someone you trust and have them do it on your behalf (the bonus is they can advocate for you too!).

Sometimes, however, that choice is robbed from us and someone else may bring it up (known as outing). Or, someone may force us (which is the case for Elton John in Rocketman, when he was forced to come out to his mother who went on to tell him he would never find love).

Someone outing you or forcing you to come out is never okay, and it can be really frightening and lonely to experience. If you’ve been outed, remember your feelings are valid. Honor who you are, and if you feel comfortable you can confront the person who did it.

Read Emmanuela’s story about coming out during lockdown here.

When you come out and it’s not received well

Maybe you’ve come out and it hasn’t been taken well – this can be very discouraging, but don’t panic, remember, you’re valid and deserve happiness!

If you have anyone around who supports you as you are, make sure to surround yourself with those people, so you feel loved and worthy!

  • Remember you’re not alone, sadly this happens but your identity is yours to be proud of!
  • While you may not feel loved by them, remember you can love and appreciate yourself.
  • Remember that things can get better with time, and mostly important be proud.
  • Looking after your mental health when you’re coming out

It’s important to take good care of your mental health during the tough time, rejection or abuse – it’s not nice for anyone to deal with. It can be very lonely and hard to deal with things like this alone. Do reach out and speak to somebody if you aren’t currently, you deserve love and support. You can get referred to most talking therapies by your GP or even sign up to some yourself.

You could join online communities for LGBT identifying people, or even local groups. Most colleges and universities have them.

Make sure to reach out if you are struggling, if you have any friends or family that you get on with, give them a message and let them know you’re having a hard time.

Remember self care is important! Watch some films, cook something nice, go for a nice walk, look after yourself.

LGBT Switchboard have some helpful advice about discovering your sexuality here.

You deserve to be happy

Remember that you are important, you deserve to be happy and you can still be proud regardless of what others say or how they may react to you coming out! There will always be people out there who appreciate you for you, whether that’s family or friends.

You can achieve anything you want, and while it may not feel like it now, better things will come. If Elton John can thrive and find happiness, so can you!

If you are struggling right now remember there are places that can help

  • Call The Mix helpline on 0808 808 4994
  • Text THEMIX to 85258
  • Ring Switchboard on 0300 330 0630
  • Ring Samaritans on 116 123
  • To find support for loneliness and to join The Mix’s watch club with NOW, take a look at our loneliness page.

Next Steps

  • Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline offers a range of help services for the LGBT community, including message boards and a helpline. 0300 330 0630
  • Stonewall campaign for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain and abroad.
  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 21-Apr-2021

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