Pride in London
This weekend the annual Pride in London Parade took place in the capital, with more than half a million people turning out in support of 2013’s theme, Love (and Marriage) which, as londoncommunitypride.org states, celebrates ‘the achievement of equal marriage in the UK, as well as in various countries around the world, [and] also the love and support that exists within the LGBT+ community and their friends and families’.
Heightened by the recent Supreme Court rulings in the United States, in support of same-sex marriage, Pride events all over the world experienced higher turn outs than usual. Many events reportedly enjoyed the biggest crowds ever with families, tourists and groups of teenagers all in attendance, as well as regular supporters.
But although we have come a long way as a global society in officially accepting and integrating the LGBT community, this doesn’t mean that getting to grips with being gay, lesbian, trans-sexual or bisexual is easy. Nor, necessarily, is coming out and telling friends, family and peers. And these experiences will be different for different people.
However, coming out can be an important step towards living a more authentic and genuine lifestyle. ‘Now I feel free,’ said Glee star Clarice, who came out last month, despite worries that she would be estranged from her family in light of her revelation. Meanwhile NBA star Jason Collins came out to the public in April, amidst high praise and applaud from his followers on Twitter. ‘When I was younger I dated women…I thought I had to live a certain way…I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue,’ Collins told Sports illustrated in May. ‘No one wants to live in fear. I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don’t sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humour, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back’.
Grappling with your sexuality and deciding to come out can be highly anxiety-provoking. Collins should know – he did it for 33 years. It can be a painful and isolating time, and there is often a lot of uncertainty as to whether you will still be accepted by friends and family. And, of course, coming out is not something that only happens once. Many people find that they are ‘coming out’ any given number of times – to different friendship groups, colleagues, family, social groups etc., and then continuously throughout life as they meet new people and re-state their identity. And the fear of rejection can remain entrenched.
If you are questioning your sexuality, or if you are considering coming out, it can be helpful to discuss things with someone else who remains impartial and separate from your immediate circle. At The Grove all our counsellors and therapists are experienced in working with issues around sexuality and same-sex relationships. Let’s talk first, before making any decisions, so that you can have some time and space to consider what’s important for you and how best to proceed from here.