Coming out is a daunting prospect that every member of the LGBTQ+ community encounters in varying ways. 20-year-old Sam Page shares his own personal coming out story in celebration of Pride month 2021.
The process of coming out is a complicated and very personal experience that varies between each member of the LGBTQ+ community. A major segment of coming out is a battle with oneself.
Whilst getting ready to start my coming out journey, I was going through an internal conflict. On the one hand, I was so desperate to express myself freely and live a life without regrets or self-censorship, but with this desperation comes an equally powerful force- pure and unadulterated fear.
The concept of coming out was the scariest thing I could imagine; I feared rejection, I feared what I had witnessed from negative coming out experiences, and I feared releasing what had been my secret piece of information to the world.
It’s like having a locked door to a life of freedom and using the key to open it holds an enormous amount of risk that could change your life for better or for worse. The answer is unknown until the growing slit of light from the opening door shines on you.
For me, it seemed easier to have a ‘reason’ to come out. Having an excuse to say it at one specific moment would make the announcement justifiable, otherwise, I would forever convince myself not to say anything at all.
I had spent years anticipating a dramatic moment when I came out, and this was far from the case.
As the appropriate moments to open up to my loved ones always seemed to pass by due to my fear and anxiety, I learned that I needed to create these opportunities myself.
As I was on the verge of coming out, I knew that I wanted to tell my mother first. I felt she deserved to know first, and if during my coming out journey she heard it from a third party before I had the chance to open up to her, I would have been devastated.
I can remember the moment vividly. We sat down after a meal and the television was playing; I had somewhere to be that evening, so I knew whether it went the way I had hoped or not, I would be able to process it away from the family home. I sat on the edge of my seat mentally crowded with nerves. I opened my mouth after half an hour of stalling and my heart was pounding.
My bravery broke through the mental barrier of fear I had constructed, and I announced that I needed to tell her something. She diverted her attention from the television and stood up sharply as my eyes began to fill with tears and my face began to crunch. She sat beside me with her arm around me.
The words were choked in my mouth and I could not speak. I began crying silently as her grip on my shoulder tightened. My head was buried in her arms and an overwhelming rush of emotions flooded me. I had finally said the words out loud for the first time in my life, the words that I had fought against for so many years.
Once the words had escaped my mouth, I felt so distant. It was like I was standing in the corner of the room watching one of the most important moments of my life unfold as an onlooker, removed from the situation.
She smiled and looked me in the eyes. Her eyes began to fill with tears. She tightened her grip around my shoulders further and reassured me that she would always love me no matter what. I was so relieved, the phrase ‘having the weight lifted off your shoulders’ had never been so true. From that very moment, my life began to change.
I gradually told my friends and other family members one at a time. I had an amazingly supportive coming out experience that I would wish upon everyone who has to go through it. After torturing and agonising myself about what might happen, I was left with nothing but positivity and love.
I had conjured up this concept in my mind that once I had said those words out loud that the coming out journey would be over. Truth be told, it is not quite that simple. As members of the LGBTQ+ community, we continue to come out every single day in different situations for the rest of our lives, and sadly it is not always met with such open acceptance that I was fortunate enough to receive.
Now aged 20 and having lived openly gay for over two years, my sexuality is an innate part of me that I no longer question or generate anxiety from. I am so proud of my sexuality and my ability to let it direct me. Going through that internal struggle changed me as a person, for it gave me the ability to view situations, emotions, and relationships with a piece of newfound and special knowledge.
Feature images: Sam Page