Coming out is such a scary yet important step you take in your life, what can make it a little less scary is knowing someone who has done it before you - one of my friends, Zoe was a shinning example of how to be unapologetically yourself.
If you haven't yet read my coming out story, you can do so here.
I asked Zoe a few questions about her coming out journey, and how it was for her:
When did you realise you may be attracted to girls?
"This was a realisation over a long period of time, my first realisation being in year 9 when I
was 13 years old. I started to notice that my celebrity crushes weren’t the same as my
friends, they weren’t captain America or Zac Efron, they were all female. At first, I just
thought that I wanted to be like them but I soon realised that there was something more. I
ignored these feelings and pushed them to the back of my mind hoping that they would go
away. I became a very awkward person, trying to hide these feelings, trying to stop people
from figuring out that I was gay. I dealt with a lot of internalised homophobia, I did not
accept myself for those first few years after realising I was a lesbian."
When did you decide it was time to come out?
"I did not feel ready to come out for a long time and probably wouldn’t have come out for
many more years or at least until university if it hadn’t had been for one late night
conversation with someone who I had become friends with again just as I started college.
They came out to me and I found myself caught in a moment where I was thinking it was
now or never, I felt in a safe place just then and I shut my eyes and hit the send button. Just
like that I was out of the closet. I felt completely overwhelmed for the next week, but I felt
so much better having just had a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders, I felt that I had
someone there for me now that knew exactly what I had gone through and what I was
about to go through as I now had the long process and a list of people to tell gradually, now
that I was starting to accept myself."
What was the general reaction from the people around you?
"The general reaction from all my friends was amazing, I felt really supported and each time I
told someone new it was another little weight being lifted off my shoulders. Having said this,
coming out hasn’t become much easier. I find myself becoming anxious again, every time I
meet new people I have to go through the same thing again, I have to come out to every
new person that comes into my life and that’s not something people usually think about - it’s
not just one big reveal."
How did coming out change you as a person?
"Coming out gave me a lot more confidence in myself. It took a huge weight off my mind and
allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable in social situations. For a long time coming out
had occupied my mind, it was all I could think about when I was sat with my friends when I should have just been enjoying the normal conversation. Now my mind is freed up to think about other more important things and to concentrate more on my life and getting ready to study at university."
In retrospect, would you have done anything different?
"I wouldn’t change anything. Looking back over how everything panned out, I came out when
the time was right for me, when I felt safest and when I felt like I had the most support
around me. I don’t regret my decision to come out at that time, nor would I wish for it to
have been any earlier.
Since coming out I have been largely accepted and have been really lucky to not have
experienced much homophobia (except that time I decided to spend a month in the fifth
most dangerous country to be LGBTQ+) so I feel incredibly lucky as not all stories have such
a good and positive outcome."
How Zoe inspired me:
Zoe was one of my closest friends who came out during sixth form, and her story really inspired me.
It showed me that it was possible to come out and live a happier, more confident life.
I don't want to keep my thoughts too long because this is about Zoe, but I am so so so proud of her. I feel like so many of us can relate to what Zoe has shared with us. I'll let her words speak for themselves, but a big thank you for sharing your journey with us.