What does ‘coming out’ mean to me?

A young person is holding their phone with the Pride rainbow flag behind them

A white banner with text that reads 'young people's voices'

Hi, I’m Emmanuela! I’m 18 years old. I do History, English Literature and Politics at A-level. I love to sing and I volunteer at The Mix because I’m very opinionated and I wanted a platform to express my opinions and experiences outside of school.

‘Coming out’ last year

This time last year, I did something that I never thought could happen. I came out to my mum (who is a Nigerian Christian) and she accepted me. I then wrote up my very first article “Coming out: On Extra Hard Mode”. Reading my original article honestly feels like a time capsule. I remember typing it frantically the day after I told my mum so that I would never forget. Every so often, I look back at it and smile at how far I’ve come since then. Even though I have made strides, navigating an intersectional queer identity is still much more complicated than I originally thought.

Understanding cis privilege

Being a cis member of the community, I have more choice in who I tell than a lot of my trans friends. My intersections were so overwhelmingly loud that I didn’t spend enough time trying to understand the intersections of others, which I don’t experience.

My own version of ‘coming out’

I’m still proud, extremely so. But my concept of being ‘out’ still isn’t the one that most people have. And that’s okay. I still don’t plan on telling my dad. I don’t want to tell people who won’t accept me – I don’t want to have conflict over who I am. It isn’t worth fighting over, because it isn’t up for debate. I didn’t choose to be queer, but I can choose who I share it with.

That being said, I don’t live in fear of people finding out either. I plan to be open about my queerness online and in public. And if anyone who I haven’t explicitly told comes across this article and feels slighted, then that’s their problem.

I came to this realisation a few months ago; I was on a zoom call with other bisexual/ pansexual people of colour and someone said something that has been at the back of my mind ever since. “It’s not about coming out, it’s about bringing in”, she said. I chose to bring some of my family in and leave many of them out because it is my decision. Her words allowed me to understand myself more.

Sexuality and labels

On the topic of my sexuality itself, I’m not as attached to labels as I once was. There are so many definitions of each label that different people interpret them in their own way. The way I identify changes depending on who I’m around. In straight spheres, I almost always call myself bisexual. However in queer spaces, I call myself a sapphic, queer, bisexual or pansexual depending on the day. The truth is, all of these labels fit somewhat, but there’s also something missing from all of them.

I will always have an attachment to the label of bisexuality as well as the flag, because for a long time, it was the only term that I understood which encompassed my identity. That being said, anyone can refer to me as any multi-sexual identity because the labels are for them to understand me and not for me to understand myself.

Ultimately, I now realise that my queer journey is something that continues to develop and change in ways I could never have expected. And I’m okay with that.

 

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If you need support with ‘coming out’

If you’re thinking about talking to your mates or your family about your sexual identity then we’re here to help. If you need someone to talk to about this, then know that you’re not alone. Contact The Mix to talk to our team. All of our services are free, confidential and inclusive.

Our interview with Switchboard LGBT Helpline has advice on exploring your sexuality and dealing with homophobia. Read up on the biggest myths about bisexuality.

Next Steps

  • Stonewall campaign for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain and abroad.
  • BlackOut UK is a not-for-profit social enterprise run and owned by a volunteer collective of black gay men. They celebrate the diversity of experience and views among black queer men in the UK and offer support and advice
  • Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline offers a range of help services for the LGBT community, including message boards and a helpline. 0300 330 0630
  • 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.

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Updated on 24-Jun-2021

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