We are living a full Pride fantasy summer here at Ditch the Label, and as part of the celebrations, influencer, model and all round legend Max Hovey has written about his experiences of coming out.
Coming out is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s not really a big deal once you’re out, but in your own head, you might be visualizing literally every worst possible reaction from the people you love. It’s daunting, anxiety inducing, and before you come out, it can feel like you’ll do almost anything to hide who you really are.
It’s better than you think it’s going to be, trust me. Whilst everyone’s experience is going to be different, and heartbreakingly some people have much worse experiences than others, it can be the most liberating thing you’ll ever do. I came out summer 2016, I was 17. There were ups and downs, but compared to some people my experience was relatively plain sailing. Here are the 8 things that I learned from my coming out experience.
1) Most people really don’t give a f**k.
2) You don’t have to force yourself to tell people with some grand gesture, or make it a big deal.
Hell, I told literally everyone I care about by text (apart from when I was drunk at parties lol). Both of my parents, my entire family even, simply got the text “I’m gay”. So, don’t feel you need to sit everyone down with big news if you’re genuinely not comfortable doing so. It’s your thing, it’s your story, own it however you like.
3) You will lose people, but not everyone you lose is a loss.
I lost a large group of friends very quickly, and growing up in an all-boys school as a gay man was hard. Trying to fit in, pretending I liked girls (because sorry girls, I’m 110% gay, like not even remotely hetero and never will be). So, it was hard to come out in that environment. It had also taken me a long time to gain the respect and friendship of a lot of the guys in my school, which very quickly vanished from a lot of them. All it showed me was who my true friends were. I had a large group of people who really didn’t care that I had come out, and a lot of them were guys, and I will be forever grateful for the support and kindness that they showed me.
4) It’s like a sigh of relief
For anyone that has seen Love Simon (for real I cried throughout this entire film because it just hit home), do you remember the scene when he talks to his mum? If you’ve not seen it just go with it. She says “It’s like the last few years you’ve been holding your breath, you get to exhale now Simon”, and I’ve never heard such a perfect explanation of coming to terms with your sexuality. It is such a sigh of relief when you can finally be honest with the world, and happily be who you want to be. Thinking back to how much I had to worry and care what people thought saddens me, but without those restraints, I am thriving.
5) You will encounter hate, but it’s how you deal with it that matters.
After I’d come out, I actually had someone from my school shout fag**t at me out of a car window driving past. In the moment I was shocked, then I just broke down because it was the first time I had experienced up front personal hate. The fact that it exists today is heartbreaking, and in some cases it can reach physical and even life threatening hate. All we can do is continue to be ourselves. We’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done.
6) Now on a lighter note, pride is DOPE.
Growing up seeing the LGBT+ community from the outside can give you mixed emotions. You may not want to be part of it as you’re not accustomed to your new feelings, you may feel FOMO when seeing all of the people living their best life as exactly who they were born to be. When you’re out, you get to fully embrace the LGBT+ community at its finest. I recently went to London pride, and what warmed my heart was seeing the whole of London full of people being unapologetically themselves, and nobody batting an eyelid, everyone was full of pride. So yeah, I learned that gays know how to throw a party, and not care what people think.
7) Dating can be tough.
Like it’s not even discriminating, it’s a straight up fact that it is harder to find gay people than straight people (unless you know where to look). You’ll have that “are they gay or are they straight? Dilemma. As if it’s not daunting enough going up to someone in a bar, let alone when you could have their sexuality completely wrong. But hey go for it, like I said most people don’t care, so what’s the worst that could happen?
8) You will be able to proudly find love
Now for the best part (that I am yet to experience due to the above point). You will be able to openly and proudly find the love of your life, and show them to the world. In most places now you can get married (don’t worry if you can’t, we’re working on it and we WILL get there). You can start and raise a family with the person you are meant to be with. Now if the thought of that doesn’t warm your heart and make you want to this whole exciting side of you, I don’t know what will.
For more from Max, follow him on Instagram @max_hovey
If you have a question about sexuality, Pride, coming out, or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.