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We live in a world where it is a rebellion to be yourself. Where people are ostracized and bullied because of attitudes towards how they look, who they love, the color of their skin or pretty much anything that makes them unique.

We say enough is enough. It’s time to rebel against the pressure to change yourself to ‘fit in’. It’s time to embrace yourself for who you truly are. It’s time for a revolution. Welcome to Ditch the Label.

This is our vision.

This is our purpose.

This is our manifesto.

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In the first of a series of articles by our amazing team of Student Features Writers, Priya Toberman lays down her thoughts on how the stereotypes of women in the media can affect women today.

When I was younger, the girls in the books I read were my heroes. They were tough, they didn’t like the colour pink, and the idea of wearing makeup made them want to puke. They were what we tend to call ‘Strong Female Character’. 

Although well-meaning, the recurrence of this trope has the unfortunate side effect of creating a stereotype of those girls that do choose to express themselves as traditionally feminine. This isn’t because of its existence as a whole, but because it is often twisted into the idea that traditionally feminine values equate to stupidity, vanity and superficiality. The problem with this, is that there is zero evidence to prove that someone’s intelligence is affected by their outward appearance.

This impacted me hugely when I was little. I didn’t want to do something that might make me appear ‘girly’, in part because I thought the word ‘girl’ meant being seen as less intelligent, more incapable and essentially, less of a person who could be taken seriously. What’s worse, is that I would see other girls as lesser for liking the colour pink, glitter, or for wearing makeup. It took me years to change this way of thinking, and I know that it’s not just me—this is true for so many girls.

Stereotypes pervade many of the problems experienced by young women. Telling girls that they should behave in a certain way in order to be taken seriously brings us back to the olden days when women were forced to perform femininity. Moreover, telling girls that if they appear a certain way, they have a certain personality, is reductive–it contributes to the idea that women are a homogenous group without individual personalities. Not real people, but simply a construction of what society believes we are.

The dehumanisation of women is what keeps misogyny on its feet, and is perpetuated by the media only producing the same stereotypical female characters, instead of creating characters which are believable as real people.

The reason tackling stereotypes is so important is because it can easily be fixed by showing children that the way people present themselves doesn’t have to have anything to do with who they are. If these stereotypes can be broken down while children are still children, then the problem would eventually disappear, but because the stereotypes we were exposed to as children are beyond our control, we must re-educate ourselves once we are old enough to properly understand.

I believe that the true issue experienced by young people is the lack of control we feel over our own lives. While the media we are exposed to will inevitably be out of our control, there are other issues within society which affect young people and could benefit from our voices. I’m talking politics, education, basically everything that affects teenagers more than anyone else. Decisions about these sorts of things are usually made by adults who can’t or won’t see things from our perspective. If young people could be included in the decision-making, if we are allowed to discuss problems in our society and in the media which affect us, we would be far better prepared for the future. 

And as for those stereotypes, although there is little we can do to control what’s already been done, I think it’s important that we can move forward recognising these stereotypes so that we, the next generation, can set about dismantling them. I can’t wait until I can finally open any book and discover new characters with fully fleshed out personalities from all genders, races and sexualities, and for that to become the norm. As the writers, inventors and creators of the future, the decisions we make in the future are crucial; it’s our time to set a precedent for what society should be.

Got an idea for a piece? Email [email protected]

What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, characterised by disordered eating behaviour that might include restricting the amount of food eaten, eating very large quantities of food all at once, countering food eaten through purging or excessive exercise, or a combination of these.

It’s important to remember that they’re not really about the physical behaviour, but rather about the thoughts and feelings behind the behaviour – eating disorders may be a way to cope or to feel in control. Anyone can have an eating disorder, no matter what their age, gender, or background.

Perhaps you’ve noticed something about your eating behaviour that worries you, or perhaps someone else has. Regardless of how you came to consider the possibility that you might have an eating disorder, realising that there’s a problem is a really important step. But what about the steps after it? Here are some things that you can do or just keep in mind:

1. Speak to someone that you trust about your concerns

Breaking the silence around eating disorders is vital, because these illnesses thrive on secrecy. You might want to talk to a close friend or family member, a teacher or a therapist. Try noting down beforehand some of what is worrying you, whether that’s your actions or the thoughts you’re having, so that you have some things to centre the conversation around. If there’s information somewhere, such as a list of symptoms, that has caused you to worry, you could show them this so that they understand why you’re concerned. It may be that they have noticed the same things you have and will be very glad that you’ve spoken up.

“Breaking the silence around eating disorders is vital, because these illnesses thrive on secrecy”

If the person you speak to doesn’t react as sensitively as you’d hope, don’t be disheartened. If they don’t understand or are dismissive, that doesn’t mean that your concerns aren’t valid. You deserve support, and you’ve taken the brave and positive step of reaching out, so try speaking to someone else.

2. Seek treatment as soon as possible

Research is very clear that the sooner someone gets treatment for an eating disorder, the greater their chance of a full and sustained recovery. Speak to your GP about your symptoms, and write down some thoughts and questions beforehand so you have something to refer to if you forget anything. You could ask someone you trust to go with you to your appointment to support you. Your GP should be sensitive to your needs, but if you don’t feel that you’re getting the help you need, you can ask to see a different GP.

3. Don’t feel that you have to tick every box on a list of criteria for your illness to be real

Eating disorders are very complex, and while there are lots of symptoms that might be associated with specific eating disorders, not everyone with an eating disorder will have all of them. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are not the only diagnoses – a high percentage of diagnosed eating disorder cases are “other specified feeding or eating disorder” or “OSFED”. These are every bit as serious as any other eating disorder, and it is just as important that you get the treatment and support you need.

“Don’t feel that you have to tick every box on a list of criteria for your illness to be real”

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4. Don’t feel that you have to figure out the cause of your illness or an exact reason to be feeling the way that you do.

It’s thought that eating disorders are a combination of a biological predisposition and a social or environmental trigger, and sometimes people can point to an exact moment that their eating disorder started. But sometimes they can’t, and that’s okay.

Remember, eating disorders are very complex illnesses, and anyone can have one, regardless of their background. If you can’t explain it, or if the cause of your eating disorder doesn’t seem as “serious” to you as the cause of someone else’s, that doesn’t mean that it’s not just as real. You should still seek the support you deserve.

5. Consider keeping a journal to keep track of your thoughts and feelings

This is something that you can share with your doctor or therapist depending on your treatment, as well as use to identify any patterns and potentially learn about what things might help or hinder your recovery.

“No two people with an eating disorder are the same, except for one thing – they are all absolutely deserving of help and support”

6. You could also keep a “go-to box”

This is a collection of things that can provide a distraction from negative thoughts and feelings or help calm you if you’re feeling anxious.

It could be a physical box with activities in it, or something like a collection of apps on your phone. You might be someone who prefers to read your favourite book when you’re struggling, or have a particular game that you find takes your mind off things. No matter how you cope best, the important thing is that you never have to look too far for things that you know will be helpful.

No two people with an eating disorder are the same, except for one thing – they are all absolutely deserving of help and support, and the sooner they get it, the better.

If you feel like you need to talk to someone about eating disorders, or anything that might be bothering you, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

For more information about eating disorders and what to do if you’re worried about yourself or someone you know, go to www.b-eat.co.uk

Hi all! I’m Yasmin Benoit, a British fashion model and asexuality activist. I’ve known that I was aromantic-asexual from a young age, but didn’t come out publicly until 2017, when I decided to use my platform to raise awareness and dispel misconceptions about asexuality. It’s LGBT History Month, and I’ve comprised a list about 10 things I think people need to know about asexuality. Think I missed something? Feel free to add your own!

1) Asexuality isn’t a disorder

Asexuality isn’t a psychological disorder, nor is it a side effect of other mental health problems or developmental disorders, although there might be an overlap with some individuals. It also isn’t a hormonal imbalance, or the result of any kind of illness or physical issue. When I was younger, I used to think that my asexuality would disappear once my social anxiety and teenage insecurity went away. Now I’m a confident adult, and guess what, I’m still asexual!

2) Asexuality isn’t an attitude or a lifestyle choice

There is a difference between being asexual and anti-sex. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a lifestyle choice or an opinion. It isn’t the same as celibacy or abstinence, and it isn’t a way of sticking a middle finger up at sexual liberation. There are some asexual people who are repulsed by sex, but that does not mean that asexual people can’t hold sex-positive attitudes when it comes to other people, or themselves.

3) Asexual people aren’t just those who “haven’t found the right person”

If someone said to a straight man, “You’re not straight, you just haven’t found the right man yet,” it’d be both bizarre and inappropriate. That rhetoric doesn’t make sense when it’s applied to asexual people either. It suggests that people are only sexually attracted to the ‘right person,’ like their soulmate, or their other half but if that was the case, the world would be a very different place. Asexuality is a valid sexual orientation, it’s not a reflection of the attractiveness of others, or the result of having high standards and bad circumstances. 



4) The A in LGBTQIA+ stands for Asexual

There is debate surrounding whether asexual people should be included in the community, but in my opinion – and the opinion of many others – the answer is yes. The LGBT+ community is about uniting and gaining equality for those who don’t fit into heteronormative boxes. It isn’t about who you do or don’t have sex with, or whether you have or haven’t had to handle a particular issue.

Asexuality can overlap with other letters in the initials, and even if you’re aromantic and cisgender (like myself), the chances are that you can’t relate to the heterosexual experience of society very much. Isn’t that what being queer is all about?

5) There is no asexual demographic

There are asexual men, women, non-binary people, trans people, crossing all ethnicities, races, ages, all nationalities, and religious identities. We’ve even existed throughout different time periods – asexuality isn’t a new thing.

When I attended the UK Asexuality Conference as a speaker in 2018, it was my first time being around a large group of asexual people, and I was so happy to see such a diverse group – including people over 50, asexual parents, business owners, people of colour, and people of different faiths (and no faiths) from all over the world. Despite the impression that the media gives you, asexual people aren’t all white, quirky millennials who spend a lot of time on Tumblr. 

6) There is no way to ‘look asexual’

There’s a difference between not experiencing sexual attraction and not being attractive yourself, but there are people out there who mix that up. It probably has something to do with the way non-sexual/romantic people are portrayed in the media – as someone no one would be interested in anyway. This misconception is one of the reasons why I started the #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooks like hashtag, to show the diversity in how asexual people look. There is no asexual way to look or dress.

The idea that you have to put no effort into your appearance because you’re asexual suggests that people express themselves through fashion to please others. Asexual people do not have to cover up, wear no make-up, and keep their hair un-styled just because they don’t experience sexual attraction. 



7) There is no asexual personality type

Again, this one is partially the media’s fault. Characters who don’t exhibit signs of sexual desire are often aliens or robotic, unable to understand human interaction and intimacy. They’re cold-hearted, socially detached and painfully awkward, but that doesn’t mean that asexual people actually have these characteristics.

There is no heterosexual personality, a homosexual personality, a bisexual personality, a transgender personality, or any other personality affiliated with a particular identity or sexual orientation. You can be optimistic, depressive, cheerful, subdued, extroverted, introverted, and still be asexual. 

8) Asexuality is a spectrum

You don’t have to experience absolutely no sexual attraction to be asexual. Asexuality is a spectrum, which means that some people experience mild sexual attraction, like greysexual people, and those who only experience sexual attraction to those they develop a close relationship with, like demisexual people. 

9) Some asexual people do want romantic relationships

Romantic orientation and sexual orientation are not the same thing, and many asexual people experience romantic attraction but not sexual attraction. This is where terms like heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, and panromantic come from, with emphasis on a romantic connection rather than a sexual one. There are also asexual people who don’t experience romantic attraction – aromantic asexuals – like myself. 



10) Asexual people can be happy

It’s an unfortunate narrative that asexual people will live loveless and unfulfilled lives, and it really isn’t true. Asexuality isn’t a problem, and it shouldn’t stop anyone from feeling confident and achieving whatever they want to achieve. I haven’t let being asexual stop me from breaking into the fashion industry, even working as a lingerie model, getting two degrees and providing a voice for the often forgotten letter in LGBTQIA+ at the same time. It also hasn’t stopped me from forming strong friendships, which is particularly important for an aromantic person.

Romantic asexual people can find love. They often date each other, and can enter polyamorous, queer-platonic and other ‘non-traditional’ relationships. Asexual people can date people who aren’t asexual and make it work. I know of asexual people who are married, asexual people with children, asexual people in happy and fulfilling relationships of all kinds, with people from within the asexual community and outside of it. Most importantly, I know that there are many asexual people who are happy with themselves. 

For more awesome content on life as an asexual, and general life goals, follow Yasmin on Instagram @theyasminbenoit

Join the conversation. Reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

“Planet Earth is full of labels. And I’ve never been comfortable with labels”

It’s LGBT+ History Month, and only a few short weeks since Nikkie Tutorials broke the internet with her powerful, heartfelt and emotional video wherein she came out as transgender. We are celebrating all the amazing LGBT people of the world this month, so here is that incredible story for you.

Trans rights are human rights

First off, this. Trans rights are human rights. Nikkie mentions in her video that she was being blackmailed and so decided to take the narrative into her own hands, before she was ready. Let’s be clear on this – coming out should always be down to the person who wants to come out and them alone. It’s a basic right to be able to have some control over who knows what about you, and this was taken away from her. Despite this, she still did it with grace. 

Trans rights nevertheless are under attack the world over, and many trans people live with abuse and fear every day. We teamed up with our friends over at Brandwatch to take a look at transphobic abuse online, and you can read the full report here

F*** the haters, amiright? 

Transphobic abuse is something that trans people have to deal with every single day of their lives. Our research looked at 10,000,000 public social media posts over a three year period, 1,500,000 of which were put on a scale of transphobic abuse. That’s right, it happens so much that there is even a scale for it, going from ‘acts of trans bias’ all the way up to inciting trans genocide. That’s horrendous.

Nikkie’s brave coming out video showed us all just how hard it is for someone to come out, and how that’s even harder for someone who is being blackmailed. Like we said above, it’s the right of only the person who is coming out to control that narrative, and absolutely no one else. 


The support she is getting is giving us all the warm fuzzies

Possibly one of the absolute very best things about this though, is the support we see she is getting from every corner of the internet. Whilst there may be a few haters out there trying to shout her down, we are so happy to see everyone backing her until the end on this one. You deserve the love Nikkie, you are fire. 

Now one of the largest makeup channels in the world is owned by an openly transgender woman 

Visibility can be tough for a trans person, and can often be the last thing they want. But by providing the world with another strong, smart, powerful role model who just happens to be trans, hopefully the world will become more of a kinder place for trans people to exist. We certainly hope it will. 

“This feels liberating and freeing, but I, at the end of the day, am still Nikkie.”

Towards the end of the video, Nikkie states just how much this has been tearing her apart, but also how incredibly liberating it feels to be free of the weight of carrying it around. Coming out can be super difficult, but most people state it makes them feel so much better to be able to live life without the burden of a secret. The most important thing to remember though is that if you are struggling with this, you can come out to whoever you feel comfortable with, and at your own pace. Someone else’s story is not yours, and you get to decide when and to whom you come out. Need some help coming out as trans? We’ve got some top tips for you here

#IamMe

Just hours after the video dropped, the hashtag #IamMe was trending across social media. We are here for it. You are who you are, and that is pretty damn amazing. You are unique and individual, and with that comes so much power to be happy. You are who you are, and whatever you might be going through, you’ve got this. 

So Nikkie, we applaud you for everything you are doing. We stan a strong woman, and we are backing you all the way b. 

You can watch Nikkie’s video below

Feel like you need someone to talk to, but maybe can’t speak with those in your life yet? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors here for confidential support.

It’s LGBT history month! So we caught up with Sam Stanley, one of the first openly gay rugby players, to chat about rugby, pride, and how he dealt with coming to terms with his sexuality in an industry where very few had already done so.

Hi Sam, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure, I’m an English born boy from Thurrock in Essex, raised by a Kiwi (someone from New Zealand) father and an English mother. I’ve Samoan heritage also. 

I played rugby from the age of 4 and ever since I can remember, it was my dream to play it professionally. My uncle was an All Black and so my father, as well as his other brothers, made sure their children would have rugby in their blood!

I would say I was around 10 years old when I started feeling different to what I was “supposed” to feel. Almost like my emotions weren’t in tact and that I was pretty strange feeling the way I did.

Being a rugby player, there’s this apparent “macho” way of being that you’re supposed to live up to so you can imagine the fear of thinking I may be gay. I say this because growing up, and even now I still hear, being gay for some reason meant you were less of a man – camp, effeminate, soft etc I’ve heard them all. People even tell me now how “it’s nice because you don’t act like a gay person”. If I acted like “a gay person” would you think of me differently? Maybe we’re all just very judgemental!!

Anyway long story short, I’m an out and proud gay man moving between London and Sicily with my partner Laurence. We’ve had a place in Sicily since 2013 and lived here for 18 months previously; having been together now for 9 years.

You played a very high level and touring with the England Sevens in the World Series, how did that feel to represent your country?

For me it was the icing on the cake having had numerous knee operations and struggling to stay fit.

I played at Saracens previously, having risen through their academy. I only managed a handful of first team appearances here and there, however, as I found myself sidelined a lot through injury. Maybe I should have played golf.

I’m just grateful that Simon Amor gave me the opportunity to do so and loved my time playing 7s. Met some awesome people along the way.


You’ve mentioned your mum being a huge support, what do you think that did for you when you were coming to terms with your identity?

Well at first I think Mum struggled to come to terms with it. We actually kept it a secret as her view was a protective one. She had gay friends growing up so not that that was the issue but more from the point of view of ‘What will it do for your career? If a coach is homophobic it might be detrimental to your progression’ etc. Also, she was afraid at what my siblings & father would say.

No disrespect to my mum but it was actually my ex girlfriend who was a huge support and helped push things forward for me. I consider her my best friend and I’m her gay best friend haha! I’m lucky I have numerous supportive people around me. My brother, sister, father, aunties, uncles… too many to name.

How did it feel to be hiding your sexuality from your teammates?

It was the worst feeling to be honest. Having to see them day in day out making sure I had my lies down to a tee. Not being able to be open about who I really was, what I got up to at weekends. The only real social life I had in rugby was when I had to be at a function or something. I’d try and avoid going out with the boys every time, at least until I was honest about who I am, which was the best feeling in the world. It was a huge weight to carry and I hate the fact that so many people go through this.

What was the response from your teammates like when you did come out? Did anything change?

Yes a lot changed! The boys were great. I was playing 7s at the time so quite a tight knit group of only 18 full time players then. Lots of questions asked, obviously, and people were taking an interest in what it was like. It gave me lots of confidence and I was able to be training and playing without that fear anymore. 

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Did you receive any negative comments online after coming out? How do you deal with that?

Not directly but certainly indirectly that I saw on some threads. I think I’m responsible enough to know anyone can make an account and hide behind it. Negative comments I just tried to overlook. You’ve just got to laugh it off really.

How does it feel to see great ally support online and recently at London Pride from big name players in the game like Drew Mitchell, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw and plenty more?

Oh it’s great to see! Such progress in rugby and its inclusiveness. These guys just keep helping the cause. They certainly seem to be making it easier for players to be themselves. It would have been awesome to see the support back when I was struggling. I admire Drew Mitchell for his support, particularly with the issue over Israel Folau. They were teammates and as similar playing positions may have been pretty close at one point. Probably most players that disagreed [with Folau] kept quiet so it’s great to see others speak up! 

What advice would you give to a young sports player who is also coming to terms with their identity?

I think it’s a tough one all the time because there’s a lot to coming out. What are their family and friends like? Will they be supportive? Can the person support themselves or be supported if things don’t go so well?

From experience, I can say now that things have been great since being able to be truthful. Not having to hide your life really is incredible.

What’s the best thing about being in the prominent position you’re in and having come out?

That having shared my story helped others come to terms with themselves. I love receiving messages of support from those that have found courage because of what I have done. It really makes it all worthwhile.

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Sam’s story is nothing short of inspiring and he’s a downright awesome bloke. For more from him, be sure to follow his Instagram @samstannerz.

For more interviews, inspiring stories and everyday motivation, follow our Instagram @ditchthelabel.

coming out to homophobic parents

So you’ve read a few blogs or articles, maybe watched some stuff on YouTube… generally done some research on how to come out to your parents. Some have been helpful, some are downright patronizing. But all of them leave you thinking “that’s all very well and good but you don’t know MY mum or dad…”

We’ve got you covered. If you have homophobic parents but you want to come out – this article is for you.

1. Find outside support.

Make sure you have support and tell at least one adult that you trust before you tell your parents. This could be a teacher, someone from your extended family or a friend’s parent. This will give you a safe space to turn to if your parent’s reaction is hostile and help you feel stronger going into it.

2. Check out your options.

Is now the right time? Would a safer option be to wait until you move out or go to Uni? What is your plan B if the worst does happen? Do you have the number for helplines? Can you go and stay with extended family or close a friend if you need some space while your parents adjust to the news. Your safety and well-being must always come first. While it might feel scary to have to think about these questions, it’s crucial to be prepared.

3. Be clear on what you are telling them.

If you are coming out as gay, avoid the trap of thinking that coming out as bisexual first is an easier way to help them reach a place of acceptance.  Stick with the truth, if you are gay, tell them. If you are bisexual, tell them that.

4. Give time, time.

First reactions are raw, unprocessed and unpredictable. We all need time to process big news regardless of the situation. Give your parents time to adjust to this news and know that first reactions are not always lasting reactions.

5. You are not alone.

Right now as you read this article there are millions of people all over the world facing the same situation as you. Never lose sight of the fact you are not alone, you can and will get through this. Keeping your sexuality a secret can be enormously stressful. No matter how scared you might feel now, this will get easier. On the other side of that fear is relief and liberation.

6. Shame is a liar.

If your parent’s reaction is to try and shame you for your sexuality. Please know that shame is a liar. What it tells you and how it seeks to make you feel is distorted bulls***! The whole process of coming out of the closet is going against the shame that plays a part in keeping you hidden and in the dark. Your sexuality and shame have no place together. Your sexuality is normal and there is nothing wrong or bad about loving who you want to love.

rainbow umbrella

7. Homophobia sucks.

Coming out to your parents can be a scary prospect. Add a dollop of homophobia on top and it’s downright petrifying. Bottom line is: homophobia sucks!

It sucks because we don’t choose our sexuality.

It sucks because we live in a society that places one sexuality as the norm at the expense of any other.

It sucks because life can be tough enough without experiencing ignorance and hatred towards something you are powerless over.

It sucks because your family might miss out on the chance of loving you because they can’t see past their own fears based on ignorance.

8. Talk to us.

Everyone’s experience is different so whether you are on the brink of doing it, have done it but are struggling or need support with it all, join our community to talk to one of our awesome mentors who understand completely what you are going through and get advice from others who have similar experiences…

9. Join your local LGB Community 🌈.

There is nothing more powerful than being around and supported by people who get what you are going through. Don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to find belonging. We can’t choose our family but as life unfolds, we can choose our friends. You get to come home to the people who love you for you, regardless of sexuality.

So, if you are wondering how to tell your parents your gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or transgender, that’s how to start. Your journey is just beginning. If you need any further help, you can join our free, anonymous community.

Coming out as lesbian, gay or bisexual can be difficult, there’s no point pretending otherwise. However, many people have really positive experiences coming out and often regret not doing it sooner.

It’s really important, however, that you take the time to consider your own personal circumstances when making the decision to tell people close to you that you are lesbian, gay or bisexual. What may be right for one person, may not be right for you. Your safety and wellbeing should always come first.

Although the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities have many things in common and frequently align themselves with one another, the experiences of exploring your gender identity and coming out as trans can be very different to being open about your sexuality.

If you are looking for tips on coming out as trans, why not check out this guide written by Lewis Hancox?

Top 11 tips for Coming Out as lesbian, gay or bisexual:

1. Don’t feel pressured.

Everyone should come out in their own time. You may feel under pressure to tell those close to you that you are lesbian, gay or bisexual before you are ready. Don’t. Coming out is about you and no one else. If you start to think about pleasing others you will lose sight of what is really important – your happiness. Focusing on yourself and what’s important to you will ultimately make those you’re close to happier as well.

2. Don’t label yourself if you don’t want to.

Although you may feel ready to come out, you may not feel you fit any particular ‘label’. Using terms like lesbian, gay and bisexual is absolutely fine, but never feel forced to identify as anything. Listen to your feelings and go with them! If a label helps you and feels right then great. If it doesn’t then don’t worry.

3. You don’t have to choose between your faith and your sexuality.

Most religions have groups for their lesbian, gay and bisexual followers. Go online to find a group near you. Having faith and being gay are not mutually exclusive!

4. Read how other people came out.

RUComingOut has over 300 real-life coming out stories as well as interviews from celebrities. Most people who come out go through the same anxieties and they experience very similar fears. Hearing how things turned out for others who were

5. Tell one person.

When you are ready to come out (you will know when the time feels right) – don’t think you have to tell everyone straight away –  it’s not a race! Choose one person who you trust more than anyone else – a friend, sibling, parent/guardian or teacher.

As soon as you’ve opened up to the first person things will seem a thousand times easier and clearer for you. It’s an age-old saying but talking really does help. You’ll also have someone you can talk to and ask advice from when coming out to others.


6. Forget the stereotypes.

When gay people first started to appear on TV and in the media, the stereotypes that were common were those of effeminate camp men and butch women. Some people still think that every gay man and woman have to fit that stereotype.

Others may feel that the stereotypes have flipped and gay men should be muscular and have beards while lesbians should have long blonde hair and wear lots of makeup!

The truth is, stereotypes suck and we all know they do. Being lesbian, gay or bi does not have to define you. If you’re camp, great. If you’re butch, fantastic. If you like going to the gym, good on you. If you prefer a good film to a good run, amazing.

Growing up (and discovering your sexuality) is all about finding out who you are, what you like and how you want to be and it’s an exciting time!

7. You’ll be protected at school, college and university.

Every school, college, uni and even workplace has a legal obligation to ensure that every one of its students or employees is treated fairly and offered the same opportunities. Many schools realise the importance of making sure their staff are trained to tackle homophobia when they see it.

Lots of schools even have their own LGBTQ student groups where students can meet and make friends. You should never feel pressured to join a group like this, but you may find that you meet loads of other people who have been, or are going through, similar experiences as you.

8. Think about the positives.

It is very easy to let the anxieties and fears around coming out completely take over the experience. But remember, coming out is one of the most amazing things you will ever do. You will finally be able to be your whole self and it WILL change your life.

Those butterflies you feel in your stomach – see them as excitement rather than nerves!


Here are some lessons you may find useful that Max Hovey learnt from coming out.


9. Some people do have negative experiences.

There’s no point denying it. That’s why it’s important that if you decide the time is right for you to come out, make sure you have a safety net if things don’t go to plan. There is support available if you find yourself feeling lost or alone.

10. Give people time.

You may have had years to get to a place where you are comfortable with being lesbian, gay or bisexual. Just think though, those people who you will be telling will have a split second to give you a reaction. Give them a chance to digest the news. It may come as a complete surprise. Surprise and shock doesn’t mean disapproval from them.

They may have questions, so pre-empt what these could be and be prepared to support them too. They may need your support as much as you need theirs!

11. Start living!

You will be amazed at how free you will feel once you have come out. Obviously, the experience is different for everyone and at times it may not go as well as you’d like.

Just remember that you are doing the right thing, you are allowing yourself to be who you were always meant to be and this means you can start living YOUR life! Remember to create that safety net around you though, just in case things don’t go exactly to plan.


Can we guess where you are on the gender scale? Take the quiz >>

Wayne Dhesi is a youth manager at UK-based LGBT charity, Stonewall. To find out more about his work follow him on Twitter.

So today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is a pretty big deal for trans people and allies all over the world. But why do we need this day? It can seem like there is a day for everything, but trust us, this is one of the most important ones out there. That’s why we put together this list of all the reasons why this is a day we all need, not just trans people, but all of us. 

1) Transphobia is still everywhere, especially online 

So we recently put our heads together with our friends over at Brandwatch and we put out a report about transphobia online. They analysed social media posts over three years and found some pretty nasty stuff going down. There were over 1.5 million of transphobic comments across all kinds of social media. That’s ridiculous. You can read our full report here

2) In fact, some are even inciting the murder and genocide of trans people online 

The same report found that there was a scale of online hate directed towards transgender people. It went from ‘acts of trans bias’ all the way up to inciting trans genocide. That’s horrendous. Plus, there was a whole bunch of anti-trans slurs used online. The most common slur we found was the term ‘tranny’ or ‘trannies’, which was cited 1.2 million times, and accounted for 80% of the abuse that we found. Other terms were ‘Shemale’ at 156,000 times, ‘Gender-bender’ at 56,000 times, ‘transtrender’ at 32,000 times, ‘chicks with dicks’ at 26,000 times, ‘Heshe’ at 18,000 times, ‘Ladyboy’ at 6,000, ‘Shehe’ at 3,000 times and ‘trap’ at 450 times. 

3) Trans people of colour are a specific target

Race was a huge motivator in the abuse, and trans women of colour were a huge target especially. There have also been some pretty high profile cases in the US of trans women of colour being the victims of violence. Literally because they are living as their selves. We know, it seems wild right? 

4) Trans people are still having their rights attacked in public spaces

Global politics are also a big motivator for anti-trans speech. Like when Trump was elected and inaugurated, there was a big spike in transphobic stuff going down online and in public. Things like the military ban on trans people in the US and Ricky Gervais’ new transphobic material are all quietly attacking the rights of trans people to live a normal life. 

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5) There is no safe space 

Pride was always a place where anyone in the LGBT+ space can protest, celebrate and remember those that lost their lives fighting for the rights and freedoms that LGBT+ people can enjoy today. But, London Pride in 2018 was hijacked by transphobic radical feminists, suggesting that trans issues made women’s issues less important. Pride was supposed to be a safe space for anyone who needed one, and even that was taken away. 

6) And it doesn’t look like any of this is going to change anytime soon

Our report found that not only is transphobia a huge issue online, but it also found that it is steadily growing. Transphobic violence is up as well. Unless we all join forces as allies against this kind of abuse, it isn’t going to change. 

7) We need to stop this from happening…

Transgender Day of Rememberance is all about remembering those that were victims of transphobic violence and murder, or those who took their own lives. We need to stop this from happening to more trans people across the globe. 

8) …Because EVERYONE has the basic human right to be who they are…

Every single person on the planet has the right to live their truth, no matter what gender they were assigned at birth and what name they choose when they are ready for a new one. They deserve to go through life unharassed, unattacked, and free from hate. 

9) … And we are ALL better than this.

If an alien came to the planet, what would they think about the way we treat this vulnerable portion of our population? They’d probably find it crazy that we would even dream of harming other human beings like this. We are all better than this, and we can always do more to be an ally. For some top tips on being a trans ally, read our article here

Been affected by transphobic hate? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors here for confidential support and advice. 

Happy International Men’s Day! This is a pretty important day for everyone everywhere to talk openly about the issues that face young men today. It can get a pretty bad rep, but at Ditch the Label, we love guys and we love International Men’s Day! So we thought we would celebrate it by bringing you six of the best most inspirational wonderful men you can follow on Instagram! 

1) Max Hovey @max_hovey

Max is a pretty incredible guy, and we aren’t just saying that because he is an awesome ambassador for Ditch the Label. He has been working to raise awareness for mental health and anxiety in guys for ages now, as well as for LGBT+ rights. We love Max, and as soon as you hit Follow, you will too.  

Instagram


2) Bobby Norris @bobbycnorris

After dealing with trolling on his social media, Bobby took a stand against online hate, and now he campaigns tirelessly to end the trend of online trolling. He does this whilst still having a full filming schedule and is an all round incredible guy. Follow for so much love. 

Instagram


3) Loyle Carner @loylecarner 

Real name Ben Coyle-Larner, this awesome artist and songwriter has had the ride of his life in the past few years. Not long after being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2017, he dropped his album Not Waving, But Drowning. Not only is he a mind-blowing musician, but he also campaigns for mental health awareness in guys. You can read more about him from our Good Fellas series here.

Instagram


4) Stevie Blaine @bopo.boy

Stevie is one of our all time fave body positive instagrammers, not only because he has done a whole bunch of stuff for us. He has been blowing up the body positive space for ages now, and regularly posts awesome content that will give you all the heart feels. 

Instagram


5) Jake Graf @Jake_graf5

Jake is an awesome transgender rights campaigner, and has been fighting tirelessly for the protection of trans rights, the reducation of transphobic hate crimes and abuse and basically just been absolutely killing it. 

Instagram


6) Gaten Matarazzo @gatenm123

Gaten will need no intro to sci-fi fans all over the world as he is a household name from his time spent as the loveable teenager Dustin in Stranger Things. But Gaten does a load of work for charity too (including us, no biggie), and raises awareness for a whole bunch of good causes. We would make a joke about the Upside Down, but we can’t think of any. 

Instagram


In search of daily motivation, inspirational quotes or just some joy in your Instagram feed? Give us a follow @ditchthelabel