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Coming Out

Coming out is different for everyone

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to tell others who you are. Some people find coming out a natural and inevitable part of their growing up. Others find coming out really hard. Either way, most people find acknowledging their sexual identity to themselves and others is ultimately liberating and freeing.

Coming out usually starts with acknowledging to yourself who you are. There are , but you may find that the “labels” don’t fit exactly how you feel about yourself. You may not be sure of your sexual orientation, and that’s okay.

It may be helpful to use your own words to describe how you feel rather than use a word that you’re not comfortable with, or that you think others may misunderstand.

Coming out can be challenging

Coming out can be challenging to yourself and to others, so be gentle with yourself. Don’t blame yourself if you find things difficult, or if things don’t go according to plan. Get support from others, talk to someone you can trust. Rainbow Youth has a drop-in centre you can visit if you’re in Auckland, and you might like to head over to our groups page to find a peer support group to suit you.

If you’re not in Auckland, check out some of the groups around the country on our sister site, Curious. If you can’t find the way to come out or the words to use, you probably aren’t ready to tell others. Take your time, think things over. Remember that this probably isn’t ever going to be an easy thing to do.

Experiencing fear and anxiety about telling others that you feel same-sex attraction and/or are needing to transition to your true gender, are normal. Abuse and rejection are not. You deserve respect from others at this time, but remember they also deserve respect.

Listen to your instincts

If you feel pressured or feel that you can’t trust someone, listen to your instincts. Take control and make a choice to wait or not tell them how you feel. If you feel unsafe, get out of that situation, and get help.

Coming out shouldn’t mean that you have to change anything. You may choose to change or you may not. You are in charge of your appearance, behaviour and thoughts. Don’t feel like you have to change to fit other people’s expectations.

When you decideto come out to someone, choose your time carefully. Think about what may be happening in the other person’s life at that time. Are they too stressed to be able to help you? Are they listening? Is it safe?

This can be a stressful time, so you need to look after yourself. Take things slowly, think things over, talk to others, get plenty of sleep, eat properly, do things that help you relax. Use groups like us, phone services like Youthline, Lifeline, OUTLineNZ , What’s Up, a school guidance counselor or teacher for support and advice.

You don’t just come out once

Often when we meet someone new, change a job or school or reply to an invitation we find ourselves coming out. It feels daunting, to be faced with constantly outing yourself. You should find it easier as time goes on and you will probably developing more confidence about doing this.

There are huge gains from being ‘out’. These include boosting your confidence, gaining a sense of freedom, gaining respect from others, deepening relationships and fulfillment of self-expression.

What we mean when we say queer

A reclaimed word that represents sexuality and gender diversity. We use it to encompass lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, fa'afafine, and takataapui identities, as well as everyone in between and not sure. This word is used by many people, but it is also appreciated that it is not the preferred term for everybody.


What we mean when we say trans*

Rainbow Youth uses the word 'trans*' as an umbrella term for gender-diverse people, including for example; whakawahine, tangata ira tane, FtM, MtF, transsexual, fa'afafine, transgender, whakawahine, transmen, transwomen, akava'ine, leiti, genderqueer and gender-neutral people.