Coming out is the term used to explain the process in which you tell someone or a group of people about your sexuality, your gender or gender identity or explain that you are intersex. Coming out usually occurs more than once, sometimes daily, and it is an unique experience for everyone.
Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse, queer, non-binary, or are someone with a variation in sex characteristics, we often make daily decisions to come out or to friends, chosen family, colleagues, school staff, service providers, our parents or family members. We often make decisions where we are faced with feeling unsafe, feeling uncomfortable
Sometimes we are placed in positions where we need to come out before we are ready or regardless of how comfortable we feel. This may often occur in medical situations such as visiting a GP or a sexual health clinic.
People tend to come out differently in different situations. You might start a new job or volunteer position, come out to no one when you start and then slowly choose to come out to your new colleagues once you begin to know more about them and trust them.
Coming out is a personal decision that may take time. You may choose to come out to certain people and not others, or you may choose not to come out at all. Coming out can lead to positive experiences and build stronger connections with friends, family and community. In certain situations, coming out can also have negative consequences, such as physical harm or isolation from family.
It is important to spend time reflecting on who you would feel comfortable to share with. Consider whether you feel safe, whether you can communicate what you’re needing from them, and listen to your instincts. It is important to remember that there is no timeline that you need to adhere to and there is no right or wrong way.
If you or someone you know is thinking about coming out, here are a few things to think about:
Often when we come out to others, they will have questions, which can be personal. It is important to remember that this is your story and it is your right not to answer questions if you are not ready or if you don’t feel comfortable to talk about it.What will you do if things don’t go well?
Sometimes we choose to come out to others and don’t get the response we deserve. The person you choose to tell may not accept the information or may feel sad, confused or angry. Sometimes there is no reaction. For some of us, coming out may negatively change the relationships we have with partners, children, family or work friends in a way we did not anticipate.
Coming out can be both a positive experience, and a difficult or unsafe experience. Coming out is often a period in which intimate partner or family violence is most likely to occur or escalate. If this happens to you, consider talking to a trusted friend or contacting QLife of Switchboard to seek support.
It can be helpful to plan and role-play scenarios for dealing with potentially charged situations. Consider having a trusted person support you during the conversation and an exit strategy. It is important to know what your support systems are, including who is safe and supportive.
With Respect 11800 542 847) is available for support, advice and referral.
That person has chosen you to talk to. This shows they trust you and are comfortable sharing this information with you.
Your initial response is very important and may be meaningful to this person. You may wish to start by thanking them for sharing their story with you and offer to be there to support them if they would like to talk. Respect the person’s wishes if they do not choose to talk further with you or answer questions you may have.
Coming out can be a high-risk period for many people, especially if they face rejection or isolation from friends and family. At times of high risk and where things do not go well, you may need to seek professional support and advice for your friend.
In an emergency contact 000.
If your partner or ex-partner is threatening to out you... that is not ok
If someone you are talking to online threatens to out you… that is not ok
If a work colleague threatens to out you at work... that is not ok
If anyone pressures you to come out before you are ready... that is not ok.
You deserve to feel safe and comfortable and it is your right to make decisions about when you come out and to whom.
Tell someone you trust if anyone is threatening you. We all need to respect the needs of others and recognise that not everyone is out in all the parts of their lives.
Having early conversations about what becoming a family might look like can help you make the decisions that were important to you when you began taking steps towards creating your own family.
Whether you are a sole prospective parent, partners or co-parents, or other family members like a known donor or surrogate, everyone involved needs to understand what decisions might need to be made, the information that might support the decision making process and think about how to approach decision making in a respectful way.
This information focuses on steps you can make along the way to value the needs and perspectives of the whole family, identify decisions which may need to be made, and consider what information is needed in order to make those choices.
Depending on who is in our family, there are a range of decisions that may be important to consider in planning our transition to parenthood.
Several of these decisions relate to all the steps between thinking about creating your own rainbow family, making decisions about how you intend to become parents or co-parents, and the day you welcome your child into your family.
For some, this may involve one person becoming pregnant and carrying the baby, and for others, it may involve a surrogate or a co-parent/s. You may be using eggs, sperm or both from within our relationship, and/or we may require a donor or a surrogate to help create our families. If this is the case, an important consideration is whether to use a known sperm donor or a ‘clinic recruited “unknown” donor. The roles that donors and surrogates, and their own families, play in your family’s life may range from co-parenting, to having no regular relationship, and anything in between. Whatever the case, it is best for all involved to have clear and consistent expectations.
“Our relationship with our donor is beautiful. That works exactly as we'd hoped it would. One of the benefits of spending several years trying to get pregnant was we had a long period with our donor of working to consolidate what we wanted, his next partner's relationship with us and our child...that's worked out as we wanted.”
In addition to thinking about how to become parents or co-parents, people may also find it helpful to consider how they imagine their parenting arrangements and roles looking. For example:
“I fought to balance my time, that I needed to go out and do something for myself, so amongst the parenting I made time for myself to work.”
The decisions we come to may be informed significantly by our own values, beliefs and ideas about what family and parenthood looks like. Some of our everyday decisions can even be informed by the assumptions we make and our unconscious bias
The options available to us as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, trans, gender diverse, non-binary, queer and intersex people, are as diverse as our variations in sex characteristics, our sexualities and our gender identities.
We may need to think about the financial and other logistical implications of our choices. For instance, surrogacy and IVF are more costly than home insemination with fresh sperm from a known sperm donor (who may or may not be a co-parent).
Knowing our legal status and creating legal certainty for our child may inform our decision making. One person may be older than the other, which could make attempting pregnancy more urgent for them than for a younger partner because of fertility concerns, especially egg quality.
There are many places you can go to get the information to assist you to make the range of complex information you may need to create your rainbow family.
The most obvious choice is talking to other people in your friendship groups or extended family about how they made their decision to become a family. If no one has created a family like the way you think you might then it might be time to reach out to groups on online communties or to email Rainbow Families Victoria for advice. (Be aware that shared information with friends and family may not always be accurate in terms of legal or medical information)
Many prospective parents choose to attend information sessions at fertility or assisted reproductive technology clinics. Literature, including books (check out Hares and Hyenas bookshop in Victoria), government documents, and online articles have also been found helpful by members of the community.
REMINDER: Information provided on online forums or via conversations with friends is not a replacement for legal or medical advice.
If after making a decision, someone finds themselves feeling differently about it, it is okay to come back to that decision and reassess.
Some suggested starting points:
Our families come in all different shapes and sizes but every family can experience stress or conflict. Sometimes this can turn into intimate partner violence or family violence.
We all deserve respect.
If you need someone to talk to, please call 1800 ,,,,
Elder abuse is any form of violence or mistreatment that causes harm to an older person and occurs within a relationship of trust.
We all deserve to enjoy loving and respectful relationships. No matter what age you are, safety and respect should be a part of all your relationships.
Our older LGBTIQ+ community members bring generations of knowledge, history and passion for equal rights, for fighting against stigma and discrimination and for the social and legal reforms many of us enjoy today.
Many older and ageing LGBTIQ+ people enjoy respectful and safe relationships regardless of their age, family circumstances or care needs. Warm, loving and intimate relationships continue throughout our lifetimes, yet sometimes older people are targets of violence due to ageism, homophobia, and gender based violence.
It is important to remember that elder abuse and harm is a form of family violence and can also be intimate partner violence. Someone may transition from male to female later in life and can experience emotional abuse from their cisgender partner. Elder abuse may also occur when a queer partner dies and family members engage in financial abuse by contesting wills or restricting access to assets.
Addressing elder abuse within our LGBTIQ+ communities promotes a culture where everyone feels welcome.
Our LGBTIQ+ communities should be respectful and safe spaces for everyone to enjoy.
All of us deserve respect
URGENT: If you, or someone you know are experiencing family violence you can call With Respect for support, advice and referral on 1800LGBTIQ or 1800542847. If you need immediate support, contact 000.
Recommended Resources (hyperlinks needed)
Seniors Victoria – Gender and Sexuality https://seniorsrights.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Elder-Abuse-Gender-and-Sexuality.pdf
Alices Garage https://alicesgarage.net/resources/
Dementia Australia LGBTI Resources https://www.dementia.org.au/resources/LGBTI
Carer Gateway https://www.carergateway.gov.au/resources-for-lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-intersex-carers
Living Positive Victoria (Senior Voices Project) http://livingpositivevictoria.org.au/positive-speakers-bureau/senior-voices-project/
 https://seniorsrights.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Elder-Abuse-Gender-and-Sexuality.pdf (Page 2 accessed December 23 2019)
To be bisexual is to experience “the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
Within our LGBTIQ+ communities, many of us are multi-gender attracted.
Like everyone, bisexual plus and multi-gender attracted people want to feel safe, welcome, and respected within all their relationships, including with partners or families, at work or at school.
Being able to express who we are without fear of discrimination or hostility is important, especially within relationships. But sometimes our relationships don’t turn out the way we plan or hope for.
Many multi-gendered attracted (MGA) and bisexual-plus (Bi+) people often face stigma and discrimination about their lives, their relationships and their families or face negative messages which reinforce shame. Sometimes this occurs within intimate partner relationships.
Negative stereotypes about bi+/MGA people perpetuate myths that they are untrustworthy and more prone to cheat in their relationships or that they are confused or undecided. These stereotypes can lead to poor mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression or mental illness and isolate bi+/MGA people from the community.
Just like homophobia and transphobia, biphobia, including biphobic behaviour and attitudes, exists across all levels of society, including within the gay and lesbian communities.
Addressing biphobia, bi-erasure and bi invisibility in our LGBTIQ+ communities ensures everyone feels welcome.
Our LGBTIQ+ communities should be respectful and safe spaces for everyone to enjoy.
All of us deserve respect.
Recommended Resources – hyperlink needed
Bi5 Project https://www.bi5.org.au/
Bi Alliance http://www.bi-alliance.org/
Melbourne Bisexual Network https://www.melbournebisexualnetwork.com/
 Quote taken from Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World, edited by Robyn Ochs and Sarah E Rowley, 2005.