Coming out was always conveyed as something that was a one-time thing as I grew up and so I was shocked when I first came to realise, I’d be coming out for the rest of my life.
I was around maybe 10 or 11 when I think I started to realise I wasn’t heterosexual. At that time I didn’t really know what being gay was so I didn’t actually label myself as a gay man, until I was around 13. I came out for the first time to my best friend when I was 16, trusting her more than anyone. Although it was the most terrifying experience to have to go through, it also turned out to be the most rewarding with not only the amount of relief I had that she accepted that part of my identity, but how much love and support she gave me because of it.
Since then, coming out has become an easier experience, but that’s not to say I still don’t get wrought with panic and anxiety. Each time I come out is a different reaction; some not reacting at all, which although is underwhelming for the anxiety I would go through, was still a positive reaction to get, knowing that it wasn’t something they thought should affect what they thought of me.
All but one coming out experience I’ve had so far has been positive, the most negative being from my parents due to their more ‘traditional’ views on things.
Although I’m no longer forcing myself to ‘act straight’ and am able to be a lot freer in being my genuine self around them than I used to be, there’s an underlying tension I feel for fear of giving them reason to bring up another argument about my sexuality. Regardless of my parents’ reaction though, everyone else I have told gives me all the love and support I could need and made me realise that being gay isn’t something everyone needs to know off the bat. It’s not a defining factor of who I am. It’s just something else about me the same way I have a love of writing, or a love of reading.
It’s meant that now I usually only ever mention my sexuality to someone if it comes up in conversation as well as the main factor of whether I feel comfortable and safe enough doing so, otherwise I don’t mention it.
The main thing I think everyone needs to know about coming out is that it’s always your own choice as to who knows and when they know. You don’t need to feel obligated to tell someone if you don’t feel comfortable. You and your safety are the most important factors of your coming out experience.