When coming out goes wrong
Being up front with someone about your sexuality shouldn't be a big deal. Sadly, you can never be 100% sure of the outcome. If things haven't turned out as you hoped, here's how to handle it.
Why come out?
Everyone has the right to be open about their sexuality. For those of you who do come out by telling friends and family that you're gay, lesbian or bisexual, it can be a big milestone in your life. If everything goes right, it means knowing that you can live your life freely and with nothing to hide. But if the response isn't what you had hoped for, the consequences can be hard to handle.
Your first feelings
Whether it's a parent, a sibling, friend or colleague who has reacted badly, you've got the hardest part out of the way by having the courage to confide in them. Common first emotions you can experience after telling people may range from shock and surprise, to a sense of disappointment and even humiliation. Nobody likes to feel like they're being judged, but in some ways this is what has happened. As a result, a sense of isolation and loss of confidence can quickly set in.
Coming to terms with what's happened
No matter how negatively those around you have responded, you are never alone. It's vital to remember that many people have faced a similar situation and found a way to deal with it that allows them to live life to the full. That's why it's so important to recognise help is always out there at any time.
Seeking help and support
If just one or two people have reacted badly, turn to other friends or family members for support. Ideally, they'll stand by you and give you a chance to talk. You may find that opening up about your feelings will help you to gain perspective. It'll also give you a chance to consider your next step.
Alternatively, if you don't feel you have anyone you can turn to, call the Lesbian and Gay Switchboard on 020 7837 7324. You can speak to a trained listener who will identify with what you're going through, and provide support and assurance - based on the experience of so many people before you - that you can get through this. Nothing has changed about you as an individual, after all. The only difference is some people have revealed their outlook on life to be very different from yours.
No matter how negatively those around you have responded, you are never alone. Many people have faced just this situation and found a way to deal with it that allows them to live life to the full.
They can also put you in touch with local gay, lesbian and bisexual support groups in your area. This way, you can connect with like-minded people which will in turn provide you with the opportunity to be yourself.
Coming to terms with coming out
Once you're out, it's impossible to come back in. That's why the best advice to anyone considering being open about their sexuality is to be as sure as you can be that you're able to handle the consequences of your actions.
Nobody can predict what reaction you may receive, but reaching out for help and support will get you through the toughest of times. Ultimately, you should do what feels right. Some people may not agree, but let that be an issue for them and not you. Instead, build on the support of friends and family who are willing to stand by you, and make every effort to talk to those who have come out in the past and can share their experiences.
Giving it time
Often, people react badly to news like this out of shock or surprise. Even if it exposes deep-seated views you didn't know they had, people can still change. Their outlook or opinions can be challenged by an episode such as this, or they may simply calm down and accept the situation. So long as you conduct yourself with dignity, they'll have to recognise that your sexuality hasn't changed who you are one bit. So keep an open mind right now, even if it feels as if relationships have broken down.
Eventually, you may find that it brings a greater understanding of each other. You may even look back knowing you handled a difficult situation with sensitivity and self-respect, and came through feeling true to yourself.
Read the comment policy
Use our free question and answer service and speak to an expert!