Coming out

If you’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community, you may remember the first time you ‘came out’ to yourself – when you realised or began to explore your identity. It may have brought up lots of different emotions: relief, confusion, joy, sadness, fear, hope.

And then there’s the question of whether you want to tell other people in your life. For some this can feel very important, whereas others don’t think it’s relevant at all. You might choose to let people make their assumptions and feel secure and confident in knowing your truth.

If you are questioning your identity, dislike the idea of fixed labels or identify in a way that is fluid, this may also feel complicated to explain to others, especially if they are outside the community.

Coming in

Janelle Monae, a queer singer and actor, prefers to frame it as a ‘coming in’; your choice whether to invite people around you into your experience, to a truth about you. This framing takes some of the pressure off the individual to make a big speech, or to systematically tell everyone in their life about their identity.

It also reflects the truth that sharing this information with someone is a way of letting them know you more, and of increasing the intimacy in your relationship. 

Not a one-off

One big misconception around coming out from heterosexual people is that it is an announcement that you only make once. In reality each time you meet someone new there is an opportunity (if you would like to) to come out. 

It can also be common to relate to different labels or identities at different points in your life as you explore and better understand who you are. This might mean that you come out multiple times even to the same people. This is 100% valid.

Gender non-conformity

Today there is growing social awareness around different sexualities, particularly if you are a gay man or a lesbian. If you come out to someone with one of these identities, there’s a good chance that they will know other people from those groups; a friend or family member, or even a celebrity or character from TV.

If you are trans, non-binary or don’t conform to traditional gender expectations, coming out may feel very different.

You may experience greater levels of anxiety around the person’s response, and for your own safety. You might be met with confusion, or requests to explain and justify yourself – you should never feel required to do this.

Coming out as trans or non-binary might involve letting people around you know which pronouns to use when referring to you, or if you are now using a different name.

While your experiences with coming out may differ from that of a queer cis person, you are 100% valid and a beautiful part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Finding support and community

If you’re struggling with coming out/in and want to access support, we run a weekly LGBTQIA+ online group. This is a safe space for the community to access solidarity and to talk about whatever’s on your mind..

How can I volunteer?

If you’d like to be a volunteer with Changes Bristol, there are various services you can support.

If you would like to help facilitate any of our Peer support groups, including any of our Safe Space groups, please email

You can also support us as a Befriender in our Befriending Service or volunteer for our Walk and Talk Service. You can email for more information.

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