Today is National Coming Out day in the United States. It’s imperative to remember that not everyone in the world is free and safe to come out today or any other day, and coming out is highly personal. However, National Coming Out Day offers an amazing opportunity to spread messages of joy, success and positivity across the LGBTQ community. It’s a time to reflect on the personal journeys we’ve made, and a chance to let younger members of the community know that happiness is in their future.
In this spirit, I asked members of the queer community on Instagram to share messages they’d love to tell their younger selves.
Here are ten messages of positivity from queer adults. I hope that if there’s one person out there reading and feeling scared or uncertain, this post will help you realise your happiness is coming, and it’s worth hanging on in there. When it comes, it will be wonderful beyond belief.
“Listen to your feelings, not what society is telling you about what you should be feeling.” and “Listen to your mind, body and soul. Trust yourself, because you’re right.”
The voice of society, and sometimes even the opinions of people closest to you, can be overwhelming. Society will make you feel like you have to do things a certain way or you have to feel a certain way. This is called heteronormativity – the assumption that everyone is straight and cisnormativity – the assumption everyone is cisgender.
Just because society assumes people will be straight and cis, just because society assumes women look a certain way and men look a certain way, it doesn’t mean that’s what’s right for you. Listen to your feelings, listen to your heart, and be kind to yourself.
“The people who matter are the ones who love you exactly as you are.”
You will meet some downright awful people who believe they have the right to put you down, judge you or treat you as less-than. They will claim you have less right to express yourself based solely upon your sexual orientation or gender. Attitudes like this can even come from the people who are supposed to love you.
Those people are bigots, they’re wrong and they don’t deserve you. They have no right to treat you badly, they have no right to judge, and they have no right to try and suppress your sexuality and/or gender.
Every person who deserves to be in your life will love you, not in spite of your sexuality or gender, but because that is part of what makes you the wonderful person you are today.
“Find a community!”
You may have a loving family, or you might not. One thing is for sure, finding a loving, diverse community of fellow queer people will help you understand your own journey. It will be easier to accept yourself, and in turn, you can go out into the world and spread that love to others.
“Just go with the flow and enjoy it. You’ve got years to ‘define’ yourself and explore. Own it.”
When we’re young, we can often feel like we need to find the answers to the big questions, like “who we are” right away. The truth is, who we are is a jigsaw and we’ll find pieces of the puzzle are snapping into place as life goes along. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers yet. Just be true to yourself, own who you are and be proud of yourself. Billions of moments came together to create you as the magnificent person you are. Enjoy being that person, and know that even though it’s confusing, all the answers will come with time.
“Those feelings you have about Michelle Rodriguez are THOSE type of feelings.”
Your favourite celebrity, that teacher whose classes you really enjoy…
You may just grow up and realise what you thought was stanning was a massive crush. And vice versa, all those celebrities crushes on female pop singers or hot male actors… you might realise in your twenties that you were just stanning them.
And sometimes it’s both!
“Virginity is subjective and overhyped. PIV is not the only type of sex. Don’t rush!”
When you’re in your teens, it seems like the biggest milestone is having your first sexual experience. Everyone wants to “lose their virginity”, but make sure you feel ready and feel safe. This happens at different times, in different ways, for different people. Sex should be fun and it should be something you want to do, not something you feel you should do because your friends have done it.
Sex and virginity does not always just involve penises being put in vaginas and butts. There are many different ways to have sex, and as long as everyone is consenting, that’s all that matters. Society doesn’t get to define what is right for you, or what type of sex you should have. Only you get to do that.
Finally, whether you enjoy lots of sex, or none at all, you are perfect as you are!
“Other queer gals are just as intimidated as you are”
You may feel like everyone else has got it all figured out, but the truth is, for many people it takes time, patience, self-compassion – and even then you might not find all the answers. Know that everyone in the community goes through periods of uncertainty, insecurity and feeling scared. It’s okay. It passes. You are not alone, and you’re doing everything just right.
“Soon you’ll be running towards what you once hid from. And the clothes get better… mostly!”
The things that make you different when you’re young, are the things that people will love most about you once you’re an adult. And most importantly, in time, it will become one of the things you love most about yourself! You may find it hard at first to come to terms with your sexual orientation or gender, but give yourself the kindness and love you give others. You deserve to love yourself, and one day you’ll get there, I promise.
As for the clothes getting better – let’s just say, glow ups are a thing, and thank goodness for it.
“You don’t need to have same sex ‘experience’ to know who you are,“ and “Your sexuality is valid regardless of who you have or haven’t slept with.”
We’ve all heard people say, “how do you know that’s what you like if you’ve never tried it?”
Yet, as one lovely commenter pointed out – “nobody ever asked for proof that I like men […], they just accepted that because I’m a girl, I like men.”
You don’t have to “experience” your sexuality to know what you like, just like many of us have never won the lottery but we know we’d quite enjoy that!
The biggest take away we could from all the responses is:
You! Yes, you! People in your life may try to deny who you are and what you feel is not right, not genuine, that it’s a phase or even that it doesn’t exist.
Who you are is valid, and real, and good. You are not wrong for liking who you like and loving who you love. You are not wrong to be the gender you are, or aren’t! You don’t have to change, you don’t have to be any more than you are, or any less than you are.
In the words of Broadway actress Sierra Boggess: “You are enough. You are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.”
Happy Coming Out Day!