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Guest blog: Coming out as gay, lesbian or bi at university

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All issues relating to coming out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual can be difficult for LGBT people to deal with, and the anxiety experienced whilst in the closet or prior to coming out is equally difficult to deal with. Most people who are closeted experience feelings of isolation, emotional distance, frustration and anxiety, because they feel unable to tell close family and friends who they are, and to live their own life.

However, most people have really positive experiences with coming out and often regret not doing it sooner. It’s really important, though, that you take the time to consider your own personal circumstances when making the decision to tell people close to you, that you are gay, lesbian or bisexual. What may be right for one person, may not be right for you. Your safety and wellbeing should always come first.

These tips are designed to help you to think about different ways you can approach coming out, and help you to do so, with the least amount of stress. So before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to be sure of a few things first before we start coming out to others.

Before Coming Out

Tip 1: Coming out to yourself is a big deal and coming out to others is much easier once you have first come out to yourself, and accepted your sexuality. The most important person you will ever come out to is yourself. Many people can and do spend years denying or suppressing their sexuality to themselves. This is not uncommon in older generations, but as acceptance of LGBT people has increased, this is becoming less of an issue. Most people are not ready to start talking about their sexuality to others, whilst they are still dealing with it themselves. A lot of anxiety can come from fighting yourself, and once you find self acceptance and make peace with yourself, you will start to feel much better and more confident. Some of the common thoughts that hold people back from self acceptance might be:

"I don’t fit the stereotypes so I won’t fit in."

"I’m religious and it’s against my faith."

"I don’t have many close friends and family and don’t want to lose them."

"I’m scared."

Tip 2: Forget the stereotypes. When gay people first started to appear on TV and in the media, the stereotypes that were common were those of effeminate camp men and butch women. Some people still think that every gay man and woman have to fit those stereotypes. Some people are a lot like the stereotypes and others are totally different. One of the greatest attributes of the LGBT community is our diversity. Being lesbian, gay or bi does not have to define you. It doesn’t mean you have to wear certain clothes, have a particular haircut, or listen to certain music. Just be you. Discovering your sexuality is all about finding out who you are, what you like and how you want to be. You don’t have to change who you are in order to try and fit in.