For a lot of people out there, they have always had some idea that they were different, and over time they come to get to know themselves better. It can be a shock to sit down and realise “I’m gay” mainly because of the reactions you expect from people. Now we live in a world where the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage was celebrated with rainbows on pretty much every profile picture on social media… but does that mean that coming out is easier now than it used to be?
There is this assumption that coming out is somehow easier today than it would have been ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago. Is that true? Is coming out as gay easier now? We take a look at why that might be, and what coming out can mean.
A more accepting world?
It used to be that seeing a gay character on TV, or even knowing someone who had come out as gay, was quite controversial. It was a huge deal, and when it happened everyone would gossip. Being gay, or in fact being anything outside of the norm, was scandalous. There was a belief, which some still hold, that you choose your sexuality and can simply stop being gay, so that those who “chose” this path were actually doing it for the attention, and not because it was an inherent part of who they are.
I remember being in school and my best friend coming out as bisexual. It dramatically changed the way that people spoke and treated her, and her life at school was hell because of it. She found it hard enough to come out as it was, but the reaction she received told her that it has been the wrong thing to do. She wished she had kept it to herself instead and simply pretended to be like everyone else around her.
It seems that a lot of people are suggesting that it is easier to come out now, purely because they believe we live in a world that is much more accepting. They believe that the world we live in allows us to celebrate our differences instead of letting them define us, which is why the entire world cheered when the Supreme Court announced that stopping a couple from marrying simply because they were the same gender was unconstitutional and wrong.
What the facts say
The gay rights group, Stonewall, wanted to know if this was true. They decided that the best way to do this was to conduct a study, and simply ask people when they came out to their friends, family, and colleagues. This would help them figure out if it was indeed easier to come out now.
They found that the average age for those coming out had actually fallen over the last four decades, meaning people were ready to announce who they really were without having to hide it at a much younger age.
The group said that this meant people had much more confidence to come out at a younger age, and that they weren’t as afraid as they might have been previously. The deputy director of public affairs, Ruth Hunt, said that “everyone should come out when they feel ready and confident, but this is an encouraging trend and sends a positive message to anyone not yet out: you don’t have to wait. Britain is a fairer country than it once was, and support is available to you.”
Coming out is a really tough thing to do, and many will shoot you down for even daring to say that it is easier. It is challenging to admit to someone that you are gay, especially when people have their own ideas for the life they want you to lead. How many of us remember parents asking if we had a girlfriend or boyfriend when we were younger, when we were totally single? It’s a huge amount of pressure on your shoulders.
The biggest worry for people is that they won’t be accepted. They feel that admitting who they are might upset others, and that they won’t want anything to do with them. Some people spend a long time planning the perfect way to come out, while others will just blurt it out and hope for the best.
That said, it is clear that people have more confidence to do this now than they did before. As Ruth Hunt, the deputy director of public affairs for Stonewall, has said, “older people may not have had the language for it, or necessarily seen other people they knew they were like. What we’re seeing is an explosion of role models and people talking about being gay, so people are more able to associate what they’re feeling with something they can see.”
Is it easier now?
As to whether it is easier or not to come out now is hard to say. Yes, the statistics suggest that people are able to come out at a younger age, and it seems that we are living in a world that is much more prepared to accept this news, but is coming out easier? I don’t think so.
There is still a great deal of stigma to face, and a lot of difficulties that people have to overcome in order to stand up and say “I am gay”. While we are in a world that seems ready to accept that, it doesn’t seem to make it any easier, especially not when we still hear about the discrimination against gay people all over the world.
What do you think about this? Do you believe that coming out as gay is easier now than it was before, or is it just as challenging? Whether you are gay yourself or know someone who has come out, you can join in the discussion on the Escort Norway forum, or you could leave a comment in the box below.
Since then she has gained a fine reputation with her blogs on sex advice, sexual health and amusing news stories from around the globe. She is also a campaigner for the rights of sex workers from all over the world.
In her spare time, Lara keeps herself active by going running, and is something of a film buff. She also loves to go travelling.