Coming out isn’t always as intense as it is portrayed as being.

By:Abraham Blake

I was the tender age of 4 years old when I developed my first crush. I knew that sometimes people felt differently about some people then they did about others, that’s why we have Mommies and Daddies, but this was different. My crush was on a boy. I lived in a small house in a village of less than 100 people located in the Arsehole of Co. Mayo and so, as you can imagine, I HAD NO F*CKING IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON.

This crush came and went (Yo Liam, if you’re out there reading this, I thought you were hot when I was in Junior Infants) and was replaced some years later by a girl. PLOT TWIST! I distinctly remember coming home one day and proclaiming loudly to my father that I had kissed a girl on the cheek, to which his prompt reply was “Oh really? Was it The Arse Cheek?” THE SHADE WAS KNEE DEEP. My response was the measured response of any 6-year-old. I cried. I mean, why would I have committed such a heinous act? Oh the irony of it all…

Like its predecessor, this crush also came and went (Yo Shauna, if you’re out there reading this, I thought you were hot when we were in 1st class) and I stopped thinking about people in that capacity for quite some time.

Then puberty happened.

WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHY DO I LIKE BOYS WHEN ALL THE OTHER BOYS LIKE GIRLS. I was fully aware from around 12 that I liked boys in some way but I wasn’t quite sure how. I had only learned what Gay People™ were the year before and was astounded by the fact that my aunt knew a bona fide, certified, qualified, glamourised, shake and fries pair of Homosexuals ©. After wrestling with the idea that I might be gay for a while I came to a conclusion, ill-founded as it was. “I CAN’T BE GAY,” I thought, “I DON’T EVEN LIKE INTERIOR DESIGN!”

It wasn’t until Boarding School, with its large selection of half-naked boys, that I finally realised that I liked The D*** ®. The first person I ever came out to was my best friend, Aoife. We went for a walk and settled upon a conveniently placed bench where we sat and talked about anything and everything. During a lull in the conversation, I decided to seize the moment. “Yeah,” I said, “So I’m pretty sure I’m gay…”. Her response was immediate. “OH MY GOD I F*CKING CALLED IT!” (Yo Aoife, if you’re out there reading this, you’re a b*tch and I love you).

This trend continued as I began to come out to others, culminating in a phone call to my aunt (who I live with). The call was our usual affair of her asking how I was doing and me asking for money but at the end of the call, I slipped in a subtle “Oh, by the way, I’m Gay.” Honestly, I didn’t know what I was expecting. Tears? Screaming? Whatever it was it definitely wasn’t her saying “Sure I’ve been telling you that for years.” I suppose watching ‘Gok Wan’s Fashion Fix’ religiously was hardly the straightest thing I could have done as a child but I digress.

I suppose the message I’m trying to get across is that coming out isn’t always as intense as it is portrayed as being. For some people, like me, it’s just an afterthought to be slotted somewhere into the conversation. Who knew that the being the gayest thing to have ever walked the earth helped you come out to people?

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“I feel a sense of belonging here that I haven’t yet found anywhere else”

By Anonymous

TW: mentions mental illness, homophobia, bullying

I was about 15 when I came to the realisation that I definitely wasn’t straight. From about the age of about thirteen, I had crushes on both girls and boys, but only the crushes on boys were ever acted upon. I thought that everyone had crushes on girls, seeing as all the magazines like ‘Shout’ etc. talked about ‘girl crushes’ all the time. Everyone looks at girls and wants to hold their hand right? I didn’t even realise what the word bisexual meant until I read another article in a teen magazine talking about girls kissing their friends but not being a lesbian or bisexual-identifying person. I then thought: “Wait people kiss boys AND girls?!”

I come from an extremely religious Roman Catholic family so it wasn’t any wonder that I hadn’t a clue what it meant. I had briefly had a conversation with my parents at around the age of 14 about people being gay and my parents weren’t allies to say the least. As a result of this I grew up with a lot of internalised homophobia and biphobia. I just pushed the thoughts I had about girls to the back of my mind and continued on being a teenie bopper.

It didn’t help that around the same age in the All Girls Catholic School that I went to, a same sex couple came out as being together and were met by extreme phobia by the rest of the student body. “Did you hear about such and such and herself?” they’d whisper. “Yeah I saw them kissing in the hall…they LESBIANS!” they would giggle and make horrible comments that I can’t repeat about them. I had already been bullied for years because people were threatened by my intellect if anything it was the fear of more bullying that pushed me further and further into the closet and caused me to attempt to compartmentalise my sexuality.

When I was about fifteen I had my first serious relationship with a guy and he was the first person I told that I didn’t think I was straight. He said he was cool with it and told me to experiment as long as I didn’t kiss any girls that I had feelings for. This relationship lasted for about three years and during this time two pivotal things happened that really kind of forced me to have to come to terms with my own sexuality.

The first one was that at the birthday of a close friend when I was about 17, the birthday girl decided that it would be a great idea if we all played spin the bottle. It was about six other girls and myself. When I ended up kissing two of the girls, that was when years of repressing my sexuality came out. Crap. Was it meant to feel this good? I realised that I was the only one who was really enjoying this waaaay more than the others. I knew in my heart then and there that I was most definitely NOT straight.

The second one was when one of my best friends who I have known since I was four came out to me as bisexual. I then proceeded to tell her that I couldn’t care less if she was attracted to aliens so it didn’t matter to me because she was just as fun and authentically herself as she had ever been, who she loved didn’t make a difference. In saying this to her I was kind of saying it to myself too, and I realised that I needed to cut myself some slack and stop hating myself.

I have been suffering from major depression with secondary anxiety since the age of fifteen, and was only diagnosed by a psychiatrist at age eighteen. I wouldn’t say that finally biting the bullet on the night that the Leaving Cert finished and telling my close friends that I was bi stopped my depression and anxiety, but it did help a small bit.

When I went to UL in September of 2014 it was a whole different ball game (in the best way possible).

I asked one of my best friends from home who is also in my course to out me to my course mates, because I was too afraid to do it myself. It was in week two of first year and they were all so lovely and accepting. I was still very much closeted though as nobody from home or any of my family knew.

It was only in April of this year that I came out to my mam. She was a bit overwhelmed at first and I was annoyed with her because I thought that she hated me when really it was just a lot for her to take in. She’s still trying to get her head around bisexuality I think because she only knows the damaging stereotypes and biphobic myths like ‘All bisexuals cheat’ and ‘Bisexuals are afraid of commitment’ or ‘Bisexual people are just gay people who haven’t come out yet’, which are not the case. She’s really supportive of me now though but I know it might take a little bit longer for her to fully come around.

I am very new to OutinUL and finally joined this year in third year and I have a lot to be grateful to them for. If it weren’t for their visibility around campus during events like Rainbow Week, Alternative Miss UL and Queerbash, I probably would have been stuck in the closet for a lot longer. I remember seeing the society come up when I was looking at the UL Wolves Clubs and Societies pages before I went to UL and feeling happy inside. Seeing the members canvass during the marriage equality referendum helped me a lot, as it was a hard time for me living with my parents and at the same time having my entire family vote no (except for my one cool aunt). I feel a sense of belonging here that I haven’t yet found anywhere else. I finally feel like I can be out and proud and call myself a member of the LGBTQ+ Community. I can’t wait to attend my first Pride next year with these guys ☺ If you told my fifteen year old self that she would be out and proud in five years she would have never believed you. I know I still have a ton of people to come out to, but I can say now that I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, and whatever the reactions of the people I have yet to come out to, I know that I have the best group of people to support me along the way!

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“I’m relatively happy with myself in this moment of my life, and that is radically different from how it has ever been before”

Content warning: Briefly mentions mental illness

People reading the many wonderful stories on this blog will probably notice that my one is not like the others. All of the other stories concern sexuality and coming out in that respect, which I have very little to say about. My story is about gender identity, and, let’s be honest, you don’t really hear many sincere coming out stories regarding trans* people. The stories you do hear are presented in a very cissexist kind of way. Not to mention that they often fall far too close to the jaded transgender cliché (I am a boy stuck in a girl’s body and I have known this from birth and I cry every day because I am trans and will until I get The Surgery™) which is not just harmful towards popular perceptions of trans* people but is simply inaccurate most of the time.

I really didn’t figure out my gender until very recently. I started self-identifying as trans when I was seventeen and in fifth year at secondary school, and I’m now nineteen and in my first year of university, so it’s really not that long ago! Up until then I simply had never considered my own gender identity that much, then I started to and it just all clicked. I get the impression that lots of trans* people feel invalidated over this expectation that someone who is trans must have identified and expressed as such for a long time. I had a turbulent childhood and adolescence for numerous reasons, I grew up with lots of internalised transphobia and my identity as a trans woman (that is, I was assigned male at birth, but I am female) was repressed and erased until recently enough. I attended an all-boys secondary school where I hid my queer identity completely. This was a place where I experienced harassment and bullying of several kinds and was just generally not a fun environment for anyone, let alone a young queer person. Not to mention that amid the confusion over my gender identity I developed other severe personal issues. I am not ashamed to be open about that and sometimes bluntly so. I suffer from awful bouts of depression from time to time, I have severe anxiety and I have struggled with a self-harm addiction for many years. The queer community, unfortunately, struggles with mental illness that bit more than those outside the community, and that’s why I’m never afraid to acknowledge my own personal struggle.

The very first people I came out to were two close female friends when I was eighteen, and I couldn’t have gotten a better reception from them. Both have been of immeasurable help to me in terms of allowing me to express femininely and supporting me in coming out to our wider circle of friends. My coming out story in UL has been far more complicated and quite a journey in itself! I joined Out in UL in my first semester and tried to be active in it from the start, but I was only out as trans to a handful of people at UL. During first semester I was still very anxious about expressing myself truly and I didn’t have the confidence to present femininely. Gradually as I formed closer bonds with some of my friends I rapidly gained confidence and began to express myself more, which including being much more feminine in how I presented on a daily basis. The reactions I got were for the most part either positive or apathetic, never negative!

One of the most crucial moments in my story so far is how I came out to the society as a whole. I had made a different account on Facebook with my chosen name and I decided to do something a little crazy. I made a post in a secret group on Facebook for Out in UL members, basically explaining in the simplest of terms that I was trans and this was my new identity and thanked everybody in the society for just being amazing. I was so nervous that I couldn’t bring myself to check my phone for five minutes after I posted it. When I did, my notifications had exploded. Supportive comments came from absolutely everyone I knew in Out in UL, from my friends in the society to people I’d barely spoken to, all saying how proud they were of me. I remember crying hysteric tears of happiness for hours afterwards, as it was truly one of the most amazing things I ever experienced.

I’m not fully out or, mind you, anywhere near fully transitioned. I’m not even anywhere close to medically transitioning because that process is super complicated in Ireland! I’m also not out to my family at all and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be. There’s no point sugar-coating the fact that my relationship with my parents is difficult at the best of times and they can be very blatantly queerphobic. This means that currently I’m like Hannah Montana in that I live a double life. At UL I’m Kiera, I present femininely and my social circle at university are amazingly accepting of me. When I go home to my parents, I go back to using my deadname, the makeup comes off, my voice and my demeanour both change, and this is becoming increasingly hard to maintain sadly.

Yet, I’m doing so much better now than ever before. Go back to my seventeen-year-old self and tell her that two years from then she would be PRO of her university’s LGBTQ society, have many amazing friends who accepted her completely and just generally have a life so dramatically different from how her life was, and it would have been utterly incomprehensible to her. Those of you who know me in real life know how rare it is for me to give myself credit, but I’m relatively happy with myself in this moment of my life, and that is radically different from how it has ever been before.

Kiera Thornton

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“I Still Have A Lot Of People To Come Out To… and I Know That When I Do, I Have Plenty Of People Who’ll Help me Along The Way.”

It wasn’t until the age of about 13 or so that I kind of got the idea that I might be bisexual.
I’d always found both boys and girls attractive, but I’d always thought when it came to girls it was more of just an appreciation than actual attraction. That changed one day after I read an article in a magazine, which talked about “women crushes”. Basically it talked about how common it is for girls to find other girls and women beautiful, and talented, and wonderful and all that jazz. As I was reading this I was sitting there thinking, “Oh ok, so this is something all girls feel”. And then I got to the end of the article where it said “Having a ‘woman crush’ is about appreciating another woman, it doesn’t mean you want to kiss or pursue a relationship with them.” Oh. Yeah, no, I definitely wanted to kiss girls.

I spent the next couple of years pretty much just ignoring my attraction towards any girl, and focused on the boys I liked. I had never really heard of anyone liking both girls and boys, so I just put it to the back of my mind. It wasn’t until I turned 15 and a close friend came out to me as bisexual that I realised that was what I identified as too. I eventually came out to that friend, and we would talk about it occasionally, but it wasn’t until I came to UL that I really got the chance to explore my sexuality. My (fab) orientation guide told my group all about Out in UL and by the end of the day I’d decided that if there was one society I was going to join it was this one.

Over the course of the next few months I started to come out to my college people, but the thought of coming out to anyone from home was terrifying. Fast-forward to April and Out in UL’s event of the year Queerbash (it’s the best thing ever, go to it) and I kissed a girl (and liked it). The following day I was filled with so much bravado that I decided I was going to call my Mum and come out to her. I rang her up, and her first question was “Did you shift any lads?” to which I answered “Um no, a girl. I think I’m bisexual”. After a few minutes of silence, she eventually told me that my brother and Dad were in the same room as her, so she’d talk to me later. I then spent the next half an hour freaking out until I received a text from my Mum saying “I still love you so much, and I’m so proud of you for exploring the world”. Literally the best reaction ever.

Over the next few weeks I came out to my four best friends back in Mayo, who all had the same reaction of “Oh that’s cool” and to hug me and continue on with our conversation as normal. If there’s one thing I want people to take from my story, it’s that coming out doesn’t always have to be a big event, it can literally just be throwing it out there and that’s that. I still have a lot of people to come out to, including all of my family, besides my Mum, but I know that will come in time, and I know that when I do, I have plenty of people who’ll help me along the way.

Ciara Mag Mhuirneacháin

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“Coming Out Has Been A Wild Ride From Start To Finish”

I was 14 when a pretty girl walked into my class and I blanked. I knew I had a crush on her – in fact, I sort of hated myself for it. I did confess to her, eventually, knowing full well that I, a person who wore her heart on her sleeve, could never ever manage to hide the fact I liked her from her. It wasn’t long before the entire class found out – please note, this was an all girls’ Catholic School. You can imagine the repercussions.
It wasn’t until I was 15 that I started dating properly, and met a nice boy and actually dated him for two years. Quite honestly, if anybody asks me about love, to this day I can safely say I was in love with him. But we never did have sex. And it never did amount to much, seeing as we broke up when we were both 17 and realizing that we both wanted two completely different things in life (my sexuality aside, of course).
I had spent my whole time up until this point convincing myself that I was bisexual. It wasn’t until I after I broke up with this boy that I started dating girls. And then my life had to be re-evaluated.
Coming out to myself was the hardest thing. I had to tell myself that yeah, OK, I preferred girls to guys. After that it became a matter of slowly coming to terms with the fact that I really didn’t like guys anymore.
It wasn’t until after I broke up with my first boyfriend that I started telling people. It became easier to tell people around Sixth Form that the girl I was always hanging around with was my girlfriend. Surprisingly, and to my utter relief, I never got judged. It went around to the point that even teachers started finding out about it. They didn’t react much either.
My brother was the most supportive, and also the most nonchalant. Driving me to school one day, I told him I was dating a girl. He shrugged and said he’d known all along.
Thanks, bro.
My parents, on the other hand…
Parents are always the hardest, I feel. They ranted and raved for days, yelling at me and calling me names and basically treating me as if I was just an inconvenience that happened to live under their roof, that they had to get rid of as soon as possible. I panicked, relocating to my brother’s house for a few days until everything calmed down. I eventually went back home, to threats of ‘You can’t live here unless you’re straight’, ‘You’re going straight to hell’, and – the one that hurt the most – ‘You’re the reason your mother has cancer’.
Ouch?
I wasn’t sure how to react to them. I told them I’d stop dating her (I didn’t) and that I would try to be straight (I didn’t do that, either). I told them that it was just a phase (yeah, right…) and that I would be better (I don’t understand how someone can ‘become better’ from being gay).
Time passed, my parents refuse to acknowledge that I am, in any way, not attracted to men. My mother seems to sense that my ‘mind hasn’t changed’ as she puts it, and has taken to referring to any future girlfriends I may have as ‘partner’ or ‘person’. We do have an agreement, though, that I will never speak to her about any relationships with girls. Ever. (I can live with that.) My father is his usual, oblivious self. But that’s alright.
My best coming out, though, has to be at the restaurant where I work. We had been bombarded by questions from the head waiters and managers all evening, about our taste in the opposite sex. The boys working with me didn’t hesitate in describing their perfect girls, the girls all talked about their boyfriends. Me? I stayed quiet. My boss kept pestering me, until I finally blurted out ‘I’m not into guys, OK?!’. He took it in his stride, merely pausing for two seconds before saying ‘Women, then?’
I’ve been subjected to teasing ever since.
In short, coming out has been a wild ride from start to finish. Though I hope that it never comes to pass that anybody ever finds unsupportive reactions on family members in their lives, I do hope that things will go smoothly. Coming out doesn’t have to be difficult, although the sad reality is that it is, but I do hope that everybody finds that one moment in their life where they come out and don’t regret it – whether the gesture is received with a shrug and an ‘I told you so’, or a large wink and a smile and jokes from here on out.
PEACE OUT!
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“The road can be long and seem impossible but it is amazing when you reach a place on it where you can be totally comfortable in yourself. “

Growing up I was always the different one, no matter what the group. When I was very young, primary school age, I blindly grasped for reasons as to why: “Because I wear glasses”…. “Because I don’t like sport like EVERY other boy”… “Because I like school”..
I really didn’t get it. I so wanted to fit in, to have something in common with someone, anyone.
Coming towards my teenage years puberty/hormones kicked right in, and once again I was the one going down a different path. The boys who I hung around with, or more accurately the ones who didn’t tell me (paraphrased) to ‘go away’, started to talk about women, and a whole host of stuff any feminist would implode over. My views on the girls I knew didn’t change, they were still my friends, that was all, but my feelings and emotions towards my male friends did change.
As a youth, everywhere you look it’s a heterosexual world. There aren’t, or at least weren’t any role models to look up to or to normalise the feeling I was having. Society didn’t seem to have a definition of what I was, or at least countryside-no-internet-closed-minded society didn’t.
Anyone who knows me properly knows I’m quiet, I even annoy myself with how bad it can get. So that being me I dealt with my difference in the only way I knew, silently and internally. Any amateur psychologist will tell you bottling up things like that is damaging. And they are horribly right. At about the age of 13, when I began to understand why I was so different, things got dark. Life was impossible to deal with, every sentence had to be carefully constructed, every action well thought about, just in case they would betray a part of me I just wanted gone. Add self esteem issues into that equation and there’s a mess. I dealt with it in ways that still haunt me. I won’t go into it but for three years that was my life.
And around the age of 16 I found something that changed me, and my view of the world. A series of videos that anyone, not just LGBTQCISAP(Yay I remember it) should watch. The “It Gets Better” project. Between watching those videos and having extremely vague discussions with my school’s guidance councillor I slowly regained a sense of self worth. It took time but it was the whole foundation for my coming out, and my whole person now.
The first person I came out to was a friend at some college showcase thingy at the start of sixth year, the how and why are all a blur because all I remember is the happiness and security I felt when I told her. She still is my emotional rock for when times get tough. For a few months that was it. But then, stupidly, I decided to go out to a nightclub with some friends during a mild downer. After a few drinks I just sat down and stared into space. Wondering “why?”… Quite a bad thought. Another friend came over and asked if I was alright, and before I knew it I was spilling my guts and she gave me a very lovely pep talk which resulted in me getting some water, sobering up and pulling myself together.
Now I’ve heard a few people’s experiences of friends telling friends but in my case it was a wonderful thing because all I got was support. From the girls I had told, all the way to the very catholic farmers. (They were the two sides of the spectrum in my school, weird but true). People tried to bully me about it but I had my whole year(40 people!!) jump to my defence every time. It was during this time that I realised a wonderful thing, I actually had proper friends for the first time in my life.
A month after I was helped to come out en masse, I fully intended to come out to my parents. But fate had a different idea, family tragedy struck and I put my coming out to one side in order to keep the family unit going. It was short of a year later, with major thanks to my friends and everyone in Out in UL that I managed to come out to my mother, after supplying her with a glass of wine. Her reaction was basically the same as when I decided I wanted to come to UL, “don’t get stabbed and don’t get an STI” apart from that she is perfectly ok with the matter, if just a bit more worried for my safety. My dad, who she told, has not actually said anything to me about it but that is somewhat normal for him. I’ve been told by my mum not to tell my brother, because he’s immature and kinda/very homophobic, and my sister is still to young to fully understand it.
I know I’m not finished coming out, no one ever truly is, but I feel that I’m at a stage where if can be who I am, and try not regress into overthinking every action.
The road can be long and seem impossible but it is amazing when you reach a place on it where you can be totally comfortable in yourself. 
Tom Ryan
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“Coming out was the best thing I did in my life.”

I had my first girlfriend at 3 years of age in play-schooI. We used to dress up and I told her one day I would marry her and buy her a big house and car. Suffice to say that never happened. In the following 14 years I had numerous girlfriends, culminating to losing my virginity to a girl when I was 16. As a friend once described me when I came out to her, I was always seen as a womaniser, but little did people know I was in fact a man eater.

I think the first time I ever kissed a boy was when I was 6 years old and in senior infants in primary school. This only happened one time, and the boy I kissed moved to England the following year. We never told anyone about this as we knew boys were meant to kiss girls, not other boys. It then happened again when I was 11. It was at this age that I was starting to hear other boys in my class call each other “gay” in a derogatory manner. It was insinuated that it was a bad thing to like the same sex. I tried to convince myself that I was only curious, even though it happened a number of times at this age. At the same time I discovered mobile porn, but while I pretended to be attracted to the women on this website, the real section that appealed to me was the gay section. I attempted to justify this to myself by stating that I was just interested in seeing what other men’s bodies were like, that again I was at a young age and curious like any other pubescent teenager.

It was around this time that I also started secondary school, and also began to be bullied over something I said in passing. This culminated into a chain of events, where anyone I thought was actually my friend turned out to be the total opposite. I was beaten up, lost friends and called gay and other names on a daily basis, up to the point where I wanted to take my own life. The only thing that actually stopped me was the thought that I was going to get away from this, that this would only be a minor bump in the course of my life. I knew I was stronger than this.

Due to the way in which the school dealt with the situation, the vice-principal in particular, instead of them helping me, as I was the victim in this case, they rested on their laurels. Any complaints were greeted with the response that the boy who was the main instigator of all this bullying “had problems at home”. By the end of April I had already been offered a place in another school. I was extremely lucky in the relationship I had with my parents that I could go and talk to them. They fought for me, to help me through all the torment and name calling.

The following September I started in a new school. I left behind everyone I had called a friend since I was 3 years old, with the exception of 2 or 3. It was here I made some really good friends. They accepted me for being me. I had escaped the torment that I had been put through the previous year. In 3rd year just before my junior cert I fell off a horse and was knocked unconscious. I ended up concussed for a week not eating. Since I was just on a saline drip I ended up losing the weight that had plagued me since my early teens. While I was at school though I never had problems, well except for other lads who again called me gay, but for a different reason, I got on really well with all the girls (go figure?), and I also got girls that they could not.

I also met one of my closest friends Sarah here. Both her cousin and a very close friend was gay. It was at this time I had just broken up with my second last girlfriend. No matter how hard I tried, even going to a church and praying not to be gay, I couldn’t deny it. I still found girls attractive, but I could not turn off how I looked at guys. I justified this at the time by saying I was bisexual. It seemed easier and not like a portion of my life was ending, that I would never marry, never have kids, and worst of all how could I come out to my parents. Plus I wasn’t flamboyant, yes I did have my camp moments, but in general I loved sports, I couldn’t be gay.

I was lucky when I came to college; I became a Class Rep and really became involved in the students union. Some of the other class reps became very close friends of mine, and then I realised that straight people seemed to be a minority in this group. I still kept quiet about my attraction to the same sex, but for the first time in my life I felt totally accepted somewhere. Many of these class reps were also members of OutinUL. I grew really close to a girl called Anna. One day while walking to my car, I casually slipped it into conversation about being bisexual, and then came out to her. The following November, days before my 18th birthday we had a class rep Christmas party, where I got horrendously drunk and kissed another class rep (who is now one of my best friends) in the middle of Mollys, where not only all the other class reps saw, but also 2 lads I had went to school with. When the 2 lads saw me all I heard was “Oh my God Seán Carrolls gay!”, when I heard this I turned around, waved, and went back kissing my friend.

This wasn’t the simplest part. I then spent the rest of the night shifting 4 other girls, then another guy. Then the night before my 18th birthday I came out to my mother as bisexual, knowing myself that I was gay, but hoping to soften the blow. She was shocked, but said she always had an inkling. She said not to tell my father or sister, and we never really discussed it after this. I continued on shifting both lads and girls for the rest of the academic year, but by the following September I knew I was gay and there was no point lying and I came out to friends. It was also at this time I started going out with my first boyfriend. He had been out home one evening collecting clothes for a night out, but only as a friend.

My mother began to notice how much I was staying at this “good friends” house, until a phone-call a few weeks later. While asking me about dinner I could hear my sister in the background saying “Ask him, ask him”, to which my mother asked whether or not I was actually gay. It turned out she had no problem with me being gay, neither did my sister, they just didn’t understand why I said I was bisexual. This was the turning point in my life. My mother told my father who had no problem either, and then in the course of time, aunts and uncles (well, another drunk coming-out at a family wedding). It also happened that a high proportion of my closet friends also came out.

I can now happily say that coming out was the best thing I did in my life. I am not hiding who I am anymore. When people talk about it, I talk along normally, I talk about my boyfriend and they do about their boyfriend. No one judges or has a problem with my sexuality. I am still heavily involved in sport, in fact as I write this I have a new surfboard beside me that I’m in the process of repairing. To anyone worried about coming out I would say do it, people might be a bit shocked first, but if they love you they won’t leave, if your friends have a problem, then they weren’t a true friend to begin with. Life might be difficult when you are an LGBT youth, significantly harder than other young people’s formative teenage years, but it does get better. In years to come you will forget the bad, and remember the good. Times are changing; don’t be afraid to be who you are. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you, and will help you become the best person you can be.

Seán Carroll

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“It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around.”

When I first knew I was gay, I didn’t know I was gay, as odd as that is to hear in my life it was true. I had my first crush on a boy at 6, and kissed that boy at 6 and a week later, in fact I kissed a lot of boys when I was 6, because that’s what I liked, boys. I didn’t know there was anything different about me, I didn’t assume I was in any way different from any one else, I just liked to kiss boys.

When I was 9 the kissing stopped, because when I was 9, I was called gay. I had no idea what it meant, but rather than ask an adult, I asked my fellow class mates who said it was “icky” and “gross”. I don’t really remember the rest of that day, other than me sitting in the bathroom crying because I was “icky” and “gross”.

Fast forward 3 or 4 years, I’m starting secondary school and lying about kissing girls, the same lie that almost every boy told: “you wouldn’t know her, I met her on holidays”, I couldn’t tell them there was no girl, let alone that I fancied one or two of them, so the lying started, and the shame in me grew.

When I was 15, no one was believing the lies any more, and I was being called “gay” on the daily, I didn’t want to be gay, I thought admitting that I was was the same as separating myself from everyone I cared about, at this point the shame in me had grown to hate and I was being stupid, stupidity in this case came in the form of a razor blade, a scalpel or a stanley knife. This continued for long time, so much so that I at 20 now can only say that I have been battle scar free for under a year.

At 16 I became a bit more confident, I had a friend who was gay and out and still part of the group so I let my guard down. This guard fell at the start of summer and while I had not come out, I was about to, I knew I was, I could feel it. The problem with summer and having friends that weren’t accessible all the time like in school meant I would go weeks with out seeing them, the fact I was around my family at all times meant arguments erupted, that I had nothing to do let me alone with my thoughts. This paired with the guard coming down made me believe I had been abandoned, which I couldn’t comprehend. At that point, in mid July, I hit my lowest and tried to kill myself.

Luckily I failed. Its amazing how quickly things can turn around as no less than 3 hours later I got a text asking to hang out and for what we should do on the weekend. At the end of that summer I came out, on a boat, to a friend, on another boat… No, really. From then on, it was just one friend at a time, and then two or three friends and then a “fuck it, I don’t really care who knows.”

In college I joined Out in UL, who not only changed my life, but saved it. They gave me confidence to  come out to my mother, 4 of my cousins and 3 of my aunts. And while I know that my coming out story isn’t over, it is definitely going to end in a happy ever after, I will make sure of it.

Anonymous

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Coming Out in College

“College is a time for finding out who you really are.”

Everyone has heard some variation of this at some point or the other, and in some ways it is true. Some would say it’s even truer for members of the LGBTQ Community – (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* and Queer.) Utter baloney. Most LGBTQ persons figure out ‘who they really are’ in their early teens, possibly realising they weren’t quite the same as their peers even earlier.

I always knew I wasn’t quite straight. At 13 I heard the term bisexual and had a label for who I was. At 14 I kissed a girl for the first time, and a few weeks later I told my mom I was bi. She did the whole “I love you no matter what” thing, and really it was a pretty easy coming out experience. Except for the bit where she said maybe it was a phase or something I would grow out of. A year later I had a boyfriend, and didn’t feel the need to mention that I was still attracted to girls (I was scared).

And then. College. Wow. Girls. Boys. Everywhere. All the hormones… Everywhere.

I knew I wanted to join UL’s LGBTQ Society. As I soon learned at the Recruitment Drive, Out in UL was a loud, proud and ‘out there’ society. Not being out to my college friends yet, I waited until they left and snuck back to join UL’s loudest society without anyone I knew realising. Brave, I know. But no one wants to throw themselves out of the closet. It takes time and planning and trust. Which Out in UL is awesome for. It gives you a safe space to be who you are, without actually needing to come out to your friends if you don’t want to.

Or, you know, get drunk and come out to one of your housemates. Whichever works for you. I went for the latter. It worked surprisingly well, although that may be because her dad is gay with a boyfriend. It might have also helped that she is part of a new generation of people who do not care who you love. The same generation of people who are keeping the fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ community alive. This also led to me coming out to my mom again. Telling her it definitely wasn’t a phase.

I got less nervous about being who I was and dating who I liked. Interestingly, I then stopped coming out to my friends, and I haven’t bothered coming out to anyone else in my family. If it comes up that I’m Vice President of Out in UL in front of someone who doesn’t know I’m bi, I try not to make a big deal out of it. Your sexuality is a part of who you are but it’s not all that you are.

College is the perfect place for being honest about who you are. There’s a huge range of people, and while there will always prejudiced, intolerant (stupid) people, in college there are also awesome, open, friendly people, who will happily love and support you no matter who you love. If you want to come out to someone, anyone, you will find the friends and the support in college.

If you’re looking for support, there’s an LGBTQ drop-in counselling service on Tuesdays. Or you could contact me or any member of the Out in UL committee – outinul@gmail.com.

Aisling Farrell

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It Gets Better. Eventually. But then it’s totally awesome.

I officially came out at 19. But I suppose the entire process started when I was 5. There was a girl (she was 9) who I knew and she decided one day to teach me about sex. This involved a very brief explanation of mommies and daddies before she stuck her tongue down my throat, and on my questioning of what the fuck was happening (or whatever 5 year olds say), said that this was what mommies and daddies did and that this was how you learn. So I went with it (who was I to argue with someone who was clearly far more knowledgeable than me?) I became attached to this girl (as anyone would when you’re young and your body is tingling. I wrote about her in my diary. I explained it to myself by reassuring myself that I was the girl and she was the boy. I still don’t know why that was important to a child who had no idea of gender and sexual norms but there you go. After about a year, she told me she didn’t want to be friends any more (she was in 4th class after all and being friends with kids in 1st class is such a faux pas.) I was distraught – this girl was my first rejector. And not understanding my feelings, I tucked them all away, only to be brought up late at night when I cried about the possibility of being a lesbian, and then, I married the boy across the road (the joining of these two six year olds was officiated by another six year old in her back garden.)

Let’s cut past the next decade of me convincing myself that my first gay experience never happened and that I was straight and go straight to the first time I came out as bisexual at the age of 14. I had only recently heard the word from a girl at school and I understood myself immediately. I told my best friend (who was gay) and soon put myself back in the closet once I realised that I didn’t want to shift random people at Tait’s Clock and apparently that was a requirement for being a proper bisexual. I made peace with it anyway because I fell in love with my (straight male) best friend about a year after and I told myself that this was it. I was straight.

And so I lived my life in this fashion for the rest of secondary school, my drop out year, and the summer before I started in UL. I had joined UCCLGBT before I left, under the guise that I needed a new gay best friend since mine was living in Limerick. Straight. Yeah. Awesome.

The next big part of my coming out process (although I only realised this in retrospect) was my first day of college in UL. We went out that night, I chatted to a guy I had known a few years back, my friends and I went walking back through Castletroy with him, until I realised that we had been separated from my friends and I didn’t know my way back to the house I was supposed to be staying in, so I decided to trust the guy I knew in a past life. We kissed at his house (which I naively thought would be the end of it) and then he raped me.

A week later, I joined Out in UL. Under the same guise of “I love gay people”, but I had a purpose this time. Eventually, be it a month or a year, I was going to come out. I had now lost enough because things had been out of my control. It wasn’t going to happen again. I ended up coming out to my best friend a week later, two more friends a week after that, and the whole society soon after. It was established now. I was out and I wasn’t going back in the closet again.

It would be lovely to end the story here, but it’s not really where it ends. For another 6 months, I continued to sleep with any man that would have me, because even though I was getting stronger mentally, I still didn’t give a shit about who I let have my body. But I kept going to Out in UL meetings, I kept getting stronger, I became active and vocal about bisexual rights, and I came out to people left right and centre. And then, I stopped putting myself out there as a play toy to be used and starting owning who I was. What one guy did was not what everyone could do to me. Out in UL helped me process all the things that had happened in the past, because I had finally found friends who I could be completely open with and a community in which I could heal.

It was onward and upwards from there. These days, I have a title, I have written and spoken about bisexual and queer issues on a local and national level, I have become one of the committee, and I am obsessed with keeping Out in UL the safe space that I so greatly needed when I was coming out.

Coming out has helped me deal with issues, re-establish my relationship with God, establish the healthiest relationship that I have ever been in, and most of all, allowed me to do work in the LGBTQ community that has changed and bettered me.

So it does get better. Eventually. And then it gets totally awesome.

Anonymous

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