Danny Allum, Volunteer at London Friend
What was your experience of coming out as an LGBT+?
I knew I was queer when I was about 13 but I didn't come out until I was 22. I was always teased in school for "being gay" for all of the typical reasons like, I didn't play sports and my friends were all girls. I think for a long time there was this strong desire not to prove those people right and so I denied who I was. When I went home for a little while after uni and it was a really difficult time. I was unhappy for a lot of reasons but one of the main ones was because I was just too physically and emotionally exhausted to keep on pretending.
What's interesting is I wasn't worried about my family rejecting me. I was fortunate enough to be close with my parents and know it wouldn't be a problem. It didn't make it any less scary because I think there's always that tiny voice saying "What if...?"
What was the definitive moment in making this decision?
Apart from the reasons above, I had actually also started seeing someone. They didn't pressure me at all but knowing that not coming out was now impacting both me and someone else really pushed me. I wanted to be able to acknowledge who they were in my life and that I was happy, but I couldn't do that without coming out first.
What questions do people need to consider before coming out?
♥ Am I / Will I be safe? That has to be the first consideration for anyone.
♥ Why do I want to come out?
♥ Is it an important step for me to take ownership over my identity and to live authentically, or do I feel like that it's what is expected of me?
♥ Am I doing this for me or someone else?
What are your favourite books/art/films about coming out?
C. Rosen has two young adult fiction books called "Jack of Hearts (and other parts)" and "Camp" that work as escapism but include some amazing advice. Thinking about non-fiction, I'd recommend The Gender Games by Juno Dawson and Life as a Unicorn by Amrou Al-Kadhi.
Sex Education, Glee, Schitt's Creek and Special have amazing queer representation. Some include specific coming out storylines but they all talk about how to love and accept yourself.
Based on your individual experience what advice would you give to someone wanting to come out?
Centre yourself. The entire journey has to be about you. Don't do it because you think it's the right thing to do or because it would make someone else's life easier. Whether it takes you a few months or several years. Whether you tell specific people you feel safe with or even feel that there is no need for you to "come out" at all in order to live authentically. There is no timeline or wrong way to live as yourself as long as you're happy.