Youth story: My personal inspiration for coming out

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If you identify as LGBTQ2S+, you may be thinking about if/when you may come out (if you haven’t already) to people in your life. Learning more about yourself, figuring out how you identify (using the words that feel best for you and your experiences) and making decisions about coming out is completely up to you. The process of coming out is different for everyone — you may choose to come out to yourself only, and that’s OK. You don’t have to come out to anyone unless you want to and you feel safe.

Sometimes, exploring stories from other people who’ve had similar lived experiences can help us feel validated, supported and like we’re not the only ones in the world going through them. It can also help us sort through thoughts and feelings in our own lives (especially when things don’t go as planned). Here, a young person shares their inspiration for coming out and sharing their truth with others.

Kids Help Phone would like to thank the young writer of this story for their contributions to youth mental health and well-being in Canada. Their responses have been edited for length and style. We also want to let you know that we’re committed to protecting this young person’s anonymity / confidentiality. Therefore, gender neutral language has been used in English, while male voice (a common default in French language) has been used in French.

Youth story: My personal inspiration for coming out

Who did you come out to?

“I came out to my mom first, then my sister. I’m out to adults privately.”

Illustration of a caterpillar in a tree at night

Did you have any concerns about coming out?

“I was afraid that a) my family would hate me and I would have to be homeless, b) I would be bullied at school and lose all my friends and my reputation and c) the world was going to end. Literally.”

Illustration of a caterpillar under a leaf in the rain

Did anything help you feel better?

“I went to a LGBTQ2S+ youth group before coming out. I covered my entire school with pro-gay posters (gay rights = human rights!). After Anderson Cooper came out in 2012, it gave me the courage to come out a few days after my 18th birthday. At the time, Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres both helped. Just seeing them being gay, successful, talented and so loved by their viewers made me have courage to live my life genuinely.”

Illustration of a caterpillar at a school with posters

Did you experience any challenges?

“Before: I thought I was the only gay person on the planet. During: I broke down crying, couldn’t sleep all night and did terrible on my essay the next day. After: Grad was not enjoyable. I left the moment the dancing started as I was intimidated. Life felt so unfair (though it was a great life moment, from an actor’s point of view!).”

Illustration of a caterpillar on a planet in space

Is anything different now?

“Good: I don’t feel suicidal — I KNOW my mom and my sister accept me for who I am. Bad: So far, not too much — not a lot of people know I’m guessing, though I wear gay Pride pins all the time! Duh?! Haha. Plain different: I’m more tolerant and kind toward others, because I KNOW what it feels when society attacks you for being different.”

Illustration of a caterpillar, a butterfly and mushrooms

Did anything surprise you?

“I was pleasantly surprised that the world did not end when I came out!”

Illustration of a tree and colourful butterflies

What are your hopes for the future?

“I hope I get a boyfriend soon! In high school, I was too afraid to ask anyone to be my date for fear of rejection.”

Illustration of two colourful butterflies

We hope this young person’s coming out story inspires you and supports you with your own journey of self-discovery. We also want you to know that no two coming out stories are alike. Everyone has a unique experience with their own ups and downs. It’s OK if your story looks and feels different than someone else’s. If you have any questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, coming out or anything else, you can connect with someone you trust. Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors and volunteer crisis responders are available 24/7 to support you if you’d like to explore coming out together.

Do you have a story you’d like to share with Kids Help Phone? You can contact us or reach out on social media at @KidsHelpPhone.

Kids Help Phone would like to thank Hana Shafi for illustrating this story and supporting youth mental health and well-being.