A quick one this week. Saw this interesting little article in the Metro which featured an letter from someone who is wrestling with their sexuality and coming out in their 30s, with YouTube star Dan Howell acting as agony aunt:
Dear Daniel, I’m in my 30s and have recently been coming to terms with the fact I’m gay. What’s the best way to come out to the people close to me, especially when it feels like others around me figured out their sexuality much earlier in life?
The response is really lovely, here's a little extract:
Hi! Are you me? As someone who only barely managed to come out when they were 28 … and came out to my family via email, I feel like the best and worst person to give you advice here.
Firstly – please feel no shame over taking your time to come to terms with your sexuality. Everyone has their own fun adventure through identity that is inextricably intertwined with how supportive the world around you has been. I was a complete traumatised mess that was living in denial until in 2019 I typed the words “I’m gay” and knew I had just honestly accepted it for the first time.
If you want to read the full article then you can here.
Loads of people don't come out in their teens, or even their twenties. What's your experience of coming out? Did you come out in your thirties or later? How did you find it? Tell us your thoughts!
This is really helpful to read! I'm in my 40's and still only partially out - it has kind of happened in waves for me. I find it quite easy to be tough on myself for finding this more difficult than it probably needs to be, or than some other people do (compare equals despair...) So even just reading that there is someone else who has come out to their family via email is such a relief. For years I have been very very hard on myself about that.
I am doing some work with a therapist, to explore and work on issues around all this. It is so good to know that I'm not the only one who compares my own coming out to other people, and that it's perfectly ok to come out in whatever way, and at whatever life stage works for you. That's quite a thing to accept, but as my therapist helpfully reminds me, there is not just one way to do this, or indeed to be gay.
The response to the letter highlights that we all have our own different experience of self-acceptance to work through; that positive reinforcement and evidence of good reactions is so helpful; and that it can be really easy to do other people's thinking for them - e.g. around when and how you share the news and let them in.
I'm still working through some of this - peeling away the layers of societal shame from growing up in the 80's and 90's is a much more gradual process than I would like it to be - but I just wanted to appreciate this being shared. Coming out is different for us all, and understanding the range of challenges and experiences that each of us have can help give us the strength we need to work through it.