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I can’t say my coming out experience is particularly unique, in fact, I can offer many other examples of people who have had to overcome much bigger obstacles. People who’ve had to leave home, escape abuse and fight hard because living their truth was a life or death situation.

 

“What I felt for my male friends needed to be kept a secret at all costs”

 

Looking back on my childhood, it’s easy to recognize all the little signs of my queerness. An affinity with “girly” things, soft demeanour, never really feeling aligned to societal norms of how boys should act. I had a full understanding, pretty early on, that what I felt for my male friends needed to be kept a secret at all costs.

Growing up, gay-shaming was normal. Being a male person of colour, culturally, homosexuality was not an option and my immediate family made it clear that they would never accept any of that “gay stuff”. Which I took as them saying they would never accept me. So I spent a lot of time trying to hide the gay aspects of myself that felt so natural but would ultimately blow my cover.

I had my first experience with a guy at 14 while deep in the closet. We were both on the swim team and I’d spent the night before a meet the next day. It was during a game of truth or dare (surprise, surprise) that I found myself touching and kissing another boy, but my fear of being outed wouldn’t allow me to go any further and I felt so much shame after that. At 17 I opened up to a girl friend, telling her how I was bisexual; I was thinking being bisexual would be easier for her to accept, but it was for my benefit in reality.

Even still I felt that this was such a liberating moment, finally, I had someone in my corner. I was lucky in that the group of friends I had in high school were a great bunch and I couldn’t have asked for a more understanding group. After my first friend, I slowly began coming out first to all the girls and then the few guy friends I had.

 

“I didn’t want to hide any more, I wanted to express myself”

 

Flash forward to my first year of college and I had a tight circle of straight and gay friends I could really be myself with. I would hang out at the one gay bookstore in town, found gay youth meetups, met people at school and was beginning to feel a bit more in line with my sexuality. I didn’t want to hide any more, I wanted to express myself, and was now exploring a world I hadn’t been able to before.

Sounds pretty great except for the fact that I was living a double life. Connecting and being free with my friends, experiencing a whole bunch of new things. Dating, clothing, music, dancing; it was all so freeing. Then at home, with my family, my mom specifically, I was still keeping her in the dark, fearful that they would never accept me.

It’s kind of funny how things all played out. I never found the courage to approach my mom with some big revelation. I didn’t write a letter, there wasn’t this profound heart to heart. My mom simply found a gay novel I’d been reading / poorly hiding in my room. It was explicit, sexy, and was a way I escaped when I felt as though I couldn’t have the type of love I really really wanted, reading about gay love helped.

I was out with my friends when she called and almost as soon as I answered she demanded “Tirrell – are you gay?!”. Having been through this multiple times with her over the years I could’ve taken my usual stance of denial denial denial. This time was different though, I guess I was different.

 

“I’d finally let fly my biggest darkest secret to the one person I was most fearful of ever finding out”

 

Maybe I felt empowered through telling all of my friends, maybe I didn’t want to give up this new exciting time in my life, maybe I saw the little bit of freedom I gained slipping through my fingers. I don’t know, but in that split second I told her “Yes”. No explanation, no story about being bisexual, nothing more. I’d finally let fly my biggest darkest secret to the one person I was most fearful of ever finding out.

The first few months were the roughest, that phone call was the beginning of lots of crying, screaming and arguing. My mom would cry hysterically, constantly ask me why, why I would do this, how I could do this to her; there was a lot of pain and fear mixed in that I couldn’t understand then.

I still lived at home and felt on edge being there; I woke up to my mom praying by my beside once, she tried dragging me to church, and every time we were together it was an all-out war.

 

“I was only making a choice to live a truth I’d been suppressing since I could first remember”

 

Her sadness hardened, maybe it was a last ditch effort to scare some sense into me, but that’s when the side remarks about dying from HIV or how grave a sin it was to be gay would start become her daily message. Even my well-meaning uncle met with me once to educate about the hardships I would face being POC and gay, that choosing this life wouldn’t turn out well for me. My own message was that I was only making a choice to live a truth I’d been suppressing since I could first remember.

Coming out to my family was a challenge, luckily I had a network of friends I could lean into during that time. I eventually moved out of my mom’s house, explored even more, dated guys, made a huge career pivot and became a hairstylist. My relationship with my mom was fractured but not completely severed, there were moments when I really needed her and she was always right there.

Eventually, after a lot of space, I’m talking a few cities and years between us. We argued less and I slowly stopped feeling like I needed to hide the person I’d become. I was able to understand a little more her fear for the way my life would turn out but didn’t feel responsible or the need to live up according to her beliefs.

  “I’m happy to say everything worked out just fine”

 

She visited me a few months ago in San Francisco and that was such an epic moment for the both of us for so many reasons. I was able to show her confidently the life I’d created, she met my queer friends, even laughed and hugged on a few. Through it all, I like to believe we both grew from my coming out experience, there’s so much love there and I’m happy to say everything worked out just fine.

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Tirrell Cherry

Edited by Ash O'Keeffe

LGBTQ+ Activist

Tirrell Cherry’s Coming Out Story
I can’t say my coming out experience is particularly unique, in fact, I can offer many other examples of people who have had to overcome...
Martin Ehmele’s Coming Out Story
I grew up in a small Catholic town in southern Germany. Like every other gay boy, I knew relatively quickly that I liked men. Since...
Thijs Weijland’s Coming Out Story
Growing up, I was always very shy and onto myself. As if I already knew I was guarding a secret. I was also not your typical tomboy,...
Kyanna Simone’s Coming Out Story
I started seeing this girl in November of 2015. She was beautiful, smart, quirky and was very different from people who’ve I’ve met in...
Apostrophe’s Coming Out Story
I never felt ‘normal’ when I was a little boy. Instead of playing with toy cars, I would give makeovers to my sister’s Barbies. I was...
Aldrin Suson’s Coming Out Story
Coming out at a very young age was not ideal for me as my family is Catholic, my parents and family are erratic attendees at Sunday Mass...
Brian Bloomfield’s Coming Out Story
Before I came out, when I was in college, I always had those curiosities. Those urges. I never acted on them because I thought it was a...
Daniel Bailey’s Coming Out Story
My name is Daniel Bailey. I'm a 'normal' 15-year-old boy with ambitions, hopes and dreams. Or at least that's what society portrays me as. I use the...
Joshua Moynihan’s Coming Out Story
I finally came out as gay in February 2017 (which coincidentally was LGBT+ History Month and the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967...
Paul Butler’s Coming Out Story
At a young age, I learned that there are people who dislike those who are different. Because of that, I have spent the majority of my life trying to...

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Growing up, I think I vaguely knew about the existence of gay men, but I didn’t know that women could be gay. Surely, we had to like men, right?

Then, aged 17, I developed feelings for a girl at school. I was led to believe from the way we talked and interacted, that she felt the same way about me. Until I woke up one morning to Facebook telling me she was in a relationship with a guy. Put bluntly, I was somewhat heartbroken.

Then, being in between dead-end relationships with boys who I just couldn’t establish emotional connections with, I knew that ‘love’ must be more than what I had been feeling for them. Despite trying to let go of how crushed I felt over this girl, I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and one night at the dinner table I started crying because of how constantly confused I was.

“I wondered if it was possible that I could have a real-life relationship with a girl after all”

I went into the other room with my mum and told her what was going on. It was fine. Nothing major was said or done, and so we went back to having dinner and that was that. I ended up in different relationships with guys until I was 20. I broke things off with the guy I was seeing – knowing it wasn’t what I wanted or needed from life and a glimmer of the feelings I’d had aged 17 came back to me – I wondered if it was possible that I could have a real-life relationship with a girl after all.

I was happy to be single for a while and figure it all out a little more, but then I met Rosie. She turned everything upside down – I’d never fallen so hard, so fast for someone. My whole life became her. Every day was Rosie. I spoke about her to my 2-years-younger brother who thought it was cool and was just excited that I was so happy.

“happiness was all they needed to hear and see”

I told my parents – again, I don’t remember specifics because I didn’t make a big deal of it. I just said I was seeing a girl and I wanted them to meet her. It was a brief first meeting, but it was enough for me to know that it was okay and there wouldn’t be any drama. My Dad asked, out of intrigue rather than any sort of anger or upset, if ‘this is it’ now, if I was gay and not going to be with men anymore. I said probably, that this felt right and happy for me, and that happiness was all they needed to hear and see.

  “the part of me that had fought to hide away for two decades was finally free”

My overly intense friendships suddenly made sense, my over-investment in any gay characters or stories involving LGBT issues were justified. I was always gay, I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide on a life that would come with its own difficulties I couldn’t prepare myself for. But I was finally able to see it, see who I am and always was. The part of me that had fought to hide away for two decades was finally free and having the best time ever.

At first, I was so excited to tell everyone about Rosie that coming out to people didn’t seem like too much of a big deal – I kind of just came out by having a girlfriend. I didn’t really verbalise the situation, just showed off about this beautiful girl who I wanted to spend my life with.

  “It can get tiring coming out so often”

Four years on, and it can get tiring coming out so often. People presuming that by partner I mean boyfriend, we are presumed to be friends or sisters in just about every situation and always asked by doctors about my contraceptive methods.

Despite the little stumbling blocks that I didn’t predict, I am living a different life in a new city with new friends who didn’t know me as ever having boyfriends, and that has made things easier. To them, I have always come as a little gay package and they have accepted and loved me regardless.

Like I say, minimal drama. But I know not everyone is that lucky and I want to be able to do whatever I can to help the people who don’t have the acceptance around them that they deserve, which is why we run our Instagram so publicly!

The advice I’d give is to let yourself feel whatever you feel, even if that takes time to come to terms with. Absolutely no one is ‘wrong’ or ‘abnormal’, and everyone can find people that will accept them for exactly who they are, even if that means moving to a whole new city to do so.

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Ella Carrivick

Edited by Ash O'Keeffe

LGBTQ+ Blogger

Ella Carrivick’s Coming Out Story
Growing up, I think I vaguely knew about the existence of gay men, but I didn’t know that women could be gay. Surely, we had to like...
Martin Ehmele’s Coming Out Story
I grew up in a small Catholic town in southern Germany. Like every other gay boy, I knew relatively quickly that I liked men. Since...
Thijs Weijland’s Coming Out Story
Growing up, I was always very shy and onto myself. As if I already knew I was guarding a secret. I was also not your typical tomboy,...
Kyanna Simone’s Coming Out Story
I started seeing this girl in November of 2015. She was beautiful, smart, quirky and was very different from people who’ve I’ve met in...
Apostrophe’s Coming Out Story
I never felt ‘normal’ when I was a little boy. Instead of playing with toy cars, I would give makeovers to my sister’s Barbies. I was...
Aldrin Suson’s Coming Out Story
Coming out at a very young age was not ideal for me as my family is Catholic, my parents and family are erratic attendees at Sunday Mass...
Brian Bloomfield’s Coming Out Story
Before I came out, when I was in college, I always had those curiosities. Those urges. I never acted on them because I thought it was a...
Daniel Bailey’s Coming Out Story
My name is Daniel Bailey. I'm a 'normal' 15-year-old boy with ambitions, hopes and dreams. Or at least that's what society portrays me as. I use the...
Joshua Moynihan’s Coming Out Story
I finally came out as gay in February 2017 (which coincidentally was LGBT+ History Month and the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967...
Paul Butler’s Coming Out Story
At a young age, I learned that there are people who dislike those who are different. Because of that, I have spent the majority of my life trying to...

The post Ella Carrivick’s Coming Out Story appeared first on Unite UK.

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In the news, we’ve recently witnessed the heartbreaking attack on two queer women. When I originally sat down to write this, I was in a place of anger and pain. As a fellow lesbian, I’ve experienced members of the public sexualising my own relationship. To see my worst nightmare become a living reality for members of my community, my soul was broken and it confirmed my worries that queer women are not equals. 
 
In my eyes, it raises the question why grown men feel comfortable to attack women for simply saying no. We have to question why society holds these sexualised views on women & why are we being discriminated against for simply being gay women?
The answers I’m often greeted with is “men will be men” or “they can’t help themselves“. But in reality, I should be hearing that we’re holding men accountable for making queer women feel uncomfortable for simply being gay. In public, I have to assess the situation before I can establish whether it’s safe to hold my girlfriend’s hand. The only alternative is to hide our relationship to ensure our safety isn’t compromised. 
 
Stop sexualising lesbians

I’m aware lesbians have huge privileges and for women like myself I easily pass as straight so have experienced little to no homophobia due to my appearance. The only time I have fallen victim to homophobic views is when I’m visibly queer, E.g. holding hands with my girlfriend. 

But whilst I hold certain privileges, I’m faced with men sexualising myself as I fit the femme stereotypes found in porn. I have to constantly justify my sexuality & on several occasions I’ve been asked to “prove” I’m gay. But sadly, this isn’t even the worst part. Online I have received direct messages asking for threesomes, nudes, I’ve received pictures to “turn me straight” and on one occasion I’ve had someone offer to inseminate me or my girlfriend. 

When someone tells me as a queer woman that I’ve got all the rights I need, I want to remind you that two queer women were attacked for not kissing by a group of men. Every time I’m with my girlfriend I have to find the courage to be visible because the fear of being harassed is imminent. As a queer woman, I do not feel like I have the equality or respect that being straight carries. 

Queer women are still fighting for equality
People believe that because lesbians have been around for centuries, that we have rights, we have equality. But it’s far from the truth. Our relationships, sexuality and appearances are constantly judged and discriminated. Whilst in London, myself, girlfriend and two other gay women in a relationship tried to enter Village Soho. Because we were 4 women, we were turned away from a gay bar. When we asked why? Our response was “We won’t let you in because you’re 4 women”. Gay women, being turned away from a gay bar? Huh?
 
Gay bars are meant to be a safe space for women like myself to relax and not worry about being discriminated. But when you can’t enter these places because you’re a woman? You really start to question what our community is really about and if facilities have the interest of all lgbtq+ members in mind. 
And whilst we’re being refused entry into one gay bar, in another, we’re being told by gay males that “we’re too pretty to be gay“. Members of our own community who have faced discrimination, simply become part of the problem to why queer women feel like they constantly have to justify their sexuality.
 
Why are queer women still fighting?
For me, it’s clear to see why queer women experience discrimination inside/outside the community & it’s simply because we’re women. Even though we’re gay & want nothing to do with men, the patriarchy is still omnipresent in our community. I’ve experienced lgbtq+ members who are male express that they “just don’t get it when lesbians try to be men” (referring to masculine presenting women) or “I like you because you pass as a straight girl”. 
 
I want to stress, this isn’t a dig at gay men. It’s a dig at our community holding ignorant views towards lesbians. I’ve heard stories of drag queens, women, men and so on attacking lesbians for their appearances, sexuality or even a haircut. There is no hierarchy, whether we’re bisexual, pansexual, gay, lesbian, demisexual… however you identify we should all be on the same level. But we’re not.
 
The patriarchy in the lgbtq+ community has allowed queer women to be discriminated within our own community. We get excluded from lgbtq+ spaces, our sexuality is constantly questioned, how we appear to the world determines whether we’re liked or not. But most importantly, it’s allowed society to deem lesbians as sexual objects & no one is speaking up about how we are treated. That’s what sucks the most about it all. 
It affects us all, we need to do better
This battle to be seen as valid, as equals and to have an inch of respect is something many lgbtq+ members face. This affects us all, if one of us is being discriminated against then the lgbtq+ community isn’t equal. We need to ensure that our “safe spaces” aren’t just for white cis males & that organisations are being told “hey, you can’t do this“, because how else are things going to improve? 
 
What I’ve experienced as a cis white queer woman differs from someone completely opposite to me. But our similarities lie in us wanting equality. Our differences aside, we’re part of the same community & we’re fighting for the exact same thing. We need to stop segregating our community & come together, listen and become a united front. 
 
All I want is for every lgbtq+ member to feel safe to be themselves. I don’t care about your race, religion, appearance, sexuality, gender, we’re all the same. The second we see each other as human first will be the day we’re unstoppable. 
 
 
Charlotte Summers

Blogger / Founder

Queer women are still fighting for equality

by Unite UK | July 1, 2019 | Lesbian Topics, Lesbian Visibility, Top Stories | 0 Comments

In the news, we've recently witnessed the heartbreaking attack on two queer women. When I originally sat down to write this, I was in a place of anger and pain. As a fellow lesbian, I've experienced members of the public sexualising my own relationship. To...
Visibility is essential for the lgbtq+ community in 2019

by Unite UK | May 19, 2019 | LGBTQ Topics, Top Stories | 0 Comments

Visibility, exposure, attention... whatever floats your boat is so important for the LGBTQ+ community to achieve our optimal goal of equality. Visibility comes in many forms from simple acts of love in the streets to films surrounding LGBTQ+ topics.  But...
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Whitney & Megan – Lesbian Visibility Day

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We've been blessed with the beautiful girls from Wegan, Megan and Whitney. One of the FIRST lesbian youtubers to show fellow femme lesbians that it's okay to embrace your femininity and your sexuality is still as valid. Voted 54 in Diva's Power List 2019,...
Steph & Kaitlin – Lesbian Visibility Day

by Unite UK | April 27, 2019 | Lesbian Visibility, Top Stories | 0 Comments

We are Kaitlin & Steph, a married lesbian couple from Vancouver, Canada! We have been together for eight years and married for three. We both identify as lesbian women and are proud to be visible both online and in our real lives. We travel full time...
Ray Rubies – Lesbian Visibility Day

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It's Lesbian Visibility Day which means we've spent all week celebrating lesbians and asking our amazing community some questions about being lesbian! Luckily for us, the gorgeous Ray Rubies has shared some of her experiences with us about her identity. So...
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This week we're all about Lesbian Visibility Day and to get a real insight into what lesbians are faced with, we've got another amazing couple who have answered some questions for us about their identity. The beautiful Allie & Sam have kindly given us...
Rosie & Ella – Lesbian Visibility Day

by Unite UK | April 24, 2019 | Lesbian Visibility, Top Stories | 0 Comments

For Lesbian Visibility Day we've been lucky enough to ask the lovely Rosie & Ella some questions all about lesbians. With so many assumptions made about lesbians, who better to bust them than these ladies who've experienced some crazy stereotypes...
Gabi & Shanna – Lesbian Visibility Day

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It's lesbian visibility day... but in our case it's lesbian visibility week! We've been honoured that the beautiful ladies from 27 Travels have taken the time to answer some of our burning questions all about lesbians! So let's jump straight into and bust...
Stop harassing queer women

by Unite UK | April 5, 2019 | Lesbian Topics, Top Stories | 0 Comments

As a queer woman, this post is based off my own personal experiences alongside other queer women (It's important to note that the majority of these women identify as lesbians). Now we have all disclaimers out the way, it's time to highlight this massive...

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Unite UK by Unite Uk - 3w ago

Feeling safe as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in public can come down to a lot of things. Although I may be willing to be open about being a bisexual woman whilst in public if I feel that I am in a safe space and surrounded by supportive people; the fear of how strangers may react has often stopped me. In my previous relationship, my girlfriend liked to hold my hand no matter where we were or what we were doing. Having been out for a good few years longer than me; she felt more comfortable and sure of herself to express our relationship in public. Inevitably – I’m sorry to say – this resulted in comments, wolf whistles and disapproving expressions on more than one occasion, which is unfortunately something that LGBTQ+ people have to deal with on a regular basis. 

There are a lot of stereotypes about what Queer people look like: such as lesbians being butch and masculine and gay men being camp and feminine. But these are just stereotypes. Sexuality doesn’t have an appearance, and queer people are not all the same. It is these stereotypes that LGBTQ+ activists should continue to challenge and break down. 

If I myself had to choose a label, I guess I would identify as a femme bisexual woman – although a fellow writer for Queer Voices Naomi Smart wrote a wonderful blog post back in January entitled ‘Femmeboy?’ which I very much relate to about not fitting labels. Because I look more like a femme, I often feel invisible as a member of the LGBTQ+ community when I’m in public, as I don’t fit society’s stereotypical appearance of a woman who is also attracted to women. Partially because I am still on the journey to fully accepting my sexuality, the majority of the time I actually feel safe and comfortable with being invisible – which in itself is unfortunate as I know I should really be proud of who I am. However, something that has always stood out to me as a bisexual person is the startling difference in the way that people react to seeing two women kiss and their reaction to seeing a straight couple kiss.

The catcalling and harassing comments I previously mentioned experiencing in my same sex relationship were, naturally, unprovoked and would often occur when my girlfriend and I were simply walking down the street hand in hand. However, I have also experienced sexualised comments and reactions from straight men – usually strangers or acquaintances – when kissing the same sex in public. I’m so aware of how different the reaction from strangers can be depending on which gender I choose to kiss that I have always felt more vulnerable and on edge when being with the same sex. 

Since being with a man, strangers have either had no reaction to our public displays of affection or – and this mostly refers to drunk men – they react by applauding the guy – as if a woman is an object to be won. Not only is this debilitating and objectifying, but I feel almost ashamed to say that I have always felt far safer in situations like these than I ever did when I was being catcalled for being with the same sex. I feel much more confident being in public romantically with a person of the opposite sex than I ever did or have with the same sex. This could be because I am still yet to full accept attraction to women, but I know for sure that it is largely due to my concern about the possible reaction that complete strangers might have if I simply hold hands with someone of the same sex.

Through LGBTQ+ activism and challenging Queer stereotypes I hope that one day all members of the LGBTQ+ community will feel safe expressing their sexual and gender identities in public without fearing their safety or the possible reaction of strangers.

ELLIE VIOLET

Blogger at UUK

Being part of the LGBTQ+ community is very rewarding, but we all know how daunting it can be to first come out. Having a voice and raising awareness about the LGBTQ+ community is very important to me and being part of Unite UK will give me the opportunity to discuss topics and express my opinions on LGBTQ+ issues that we can all relate to. I’ll be blogging for Unite UK at least once a month and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you!

Unite queer visibility

by Unite UK | June 24, 2019 | Ellie Violet, Queer Voices | 0 Comments

Feeling safe as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in public can come down to a lot of things. Although I may be willing to be open about being a bisexual woman whilst in public if I feel that I am in a safe space and surrounded by supportive people; the...
How the online LGBTQ+ community helped me accept my identity

by Unite UK | February 18, 2019 | Ellie Violet | 0 Comments

When people ask me when I first knew that I wasn’t straight, there is one moment that springs to mind. My teenage years were full of confusion, new experiences and wild changes as just about every teenager's are. Looking back, fleeting thoughts about how...
Being lgbtq+ in the workplace

by Unite UK | November 21, 2018 | Ellie Violet, Queer Voices | 0 Comments

To follow up on my last blog post about my experience of coming out in the workplace, I asked a few other openly LGBTQ+ people on social media a couple of questions about their experiences of being open about their identities at work. What they had to say...
Coming out as LGBTQ+ in the workplace

by Unite UK | October 9, 2018 | Ellie Violet, Queer Voices | 2 Comments

As almost all LGBTQ+ people know, coming out can be incredibly difficult and stressful. However, it is often only the initial coming out that people talk about. In reality, that first time, perhaps to friends or family, is the start of many. But as you...

The post Unite queer visibility appeared first on Unite UK.

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I grew up in a small Catholic town in southern Germany. Like every other gay boy, I knew relatively quickly that I liked men. Since there were no LGBTQ+ people in my school and I had no gay friends either, it was very difficult for me to find my truth. Perhaps I would have come out earlier if I had had a reference person who had openly confessed to their homosexuality.

  “I told anyone who asked me about my sexuality that I was heterosexual”

 

Even when I was 18, I told anyone who asked me about my sexuality that I was heterosexual so as not to attract any attention. In order not to have to deal with my truth, I concentrated on my hobby, which was riding at that time. Every minute I had left I spent with my horse.

When my parents approached me about the subject, I immediately blocked any further conversation and of course said I wasn’t gay. At some point, I became more relaxed in my circle of friends and when a distant friend involved me in a conversation about her ex-boyfriend, she said something like: “Martin, we do not have it easy with men.”

And instead of always claiming I wasn’t interested in men, I left the statement in the room and simply agreed. Then, there came a few months in which I told some people that I was gay and others again I told them that I was hetero, depending on how I felt. In front of my family, I was of course not yet out at that time.

One year later I poked a boy on Facebook and fell in love with him immediately. However, he didn’t live in Germany, but in Austria’s capital Vienna, 7 hours by train away from me.

After we had skyped secretly for months, it was time for a meeting and I told my mother I would go to Austria, meet a friend who also happened to live there. So I visited him in Vienna, fell in love even more and was incredibly sad after I had to leave him again after a few days. How could I ever explain this to my parents?

  “everything was clear and I had finally come out”

 

Shortly afterwards I flew on holiday with a friend and wrote the guy a postcard with hearts and “I love you” in PS. Since I didn’t have time to send the postcard, I took it back home to Germany and left it somewhere in my room.

A short time later my mother asked me casually when we were shopping when she would get to know the boy from the postcard and I knew that the moment of truth had come: I told her I would love to invite him and she would certainly like him. Everything was clear and I had finally come out.

Of course, my parents and my sister always knew that I was gay. I think every mother knows what is going on in her child. I’m still amazed today when mothers are totally surprised when their children come out. When I talk to my parents today about my coming out, they always tell me that they were always sure about my sexuality but wanted to give me the time to stand by myself and my truth.

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Martin Ehmele

Edited by Ash O'Keeffe

LGBTQ+ Activist

Martin Ehmele’s Coming Out Story
I grew up in a small Catholic town in southern Germany. Like every other gay boy, I knew relatively quickly that I liked men. Since...
Thijs Weijland’s Coming Out Story
Growing up, I was always very shy and onto myself. As if I already knew I was guarding a secret. I was also not your typical tomboy,...
Kyanna Simone’s Coming Out Story
I started seeing this girl in November of 2015. She was beautiful, smart, quirky and was very different from people who’ve I’ve met in...
Apostrophe’s Coming Out Story
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The post Martin Ehmele’s Coming Out Story appeared first on Unite UK.

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Supporting LGBTQ+ artists in the music industry is something many of us are guilty of neglecting. But individuals like Sophia Essel are out there making waves and blessing us all with their talented abilities.

With a musical background all her life having started out singing on a cruise ship (jealous), Sophia made the jump into DJ’ing where she found her true passion and the rest is history. Personally, we saw Sophia perform at Birmingham Pride and can I just say, wow, the talent is real.

 

As a female artist, have you faced any discrimination? 

“I have faced some discrimination yes, a lot of the time men mainly suggest that us women only press buttons and look good in front of the camera. Over the last 3 years I have gained respect and do not deal with small minded people anymore or find very little are about but Female artists should not have to prove themselves. I have a passion for music and talent comes with that, I work extremely hard to create my music and am proud of who I am – gender should have nothing to do with it.”

It’s amazing to see anyone pursuing their dreams, but even more special for women LGBTQ+ individuals as we grow up facing discrimination and sometimes doubt our abilities. Sophia is proving to the world that regardless of appearance, gender or sexuality, anyone can achieve their goals.

 

Does being gay have an effect on how others see you in the industry? 

“I have found that unfortunately there are people that have an opinion on my sexuality but these people are not in my life and have nothing to do with my musical journey. I rise above negativity.”

The reality is people are always going to talk, but what we can learn from Sophia is that we don’t need to let this negativity have an impact on our lives. Being visible and striving to do what makes us happy will encourage others to do the same and in turn, prove to society that nothing can bring us down.

 

How did you realise you were gay/lesbian?

“I didn’t know, there was a rumour in school that I fancied the science teacher and when I entertained the idea I thought actually yeah I do and then was like – urmmmm there’s an issue that needs addressing here. When I think about it – I kissed the next door neighbour when I was younger who was believe it or not a girl so yeah kind of should have knew but I guess I just let it go.”

Coming to terms with our sexuality can be a crazy long journey that so many of us struggle with, which is why seeing LGBTQ+ representation in the music industry is so vital for younger LGBTQ+ individuals. Having someone to look up to who has gone through the same battle as you, makes us feel a little less alone. But what advice has Sophie got for those struggling with their sexuality?

“Please please please do not worry about what others will think of you – you’re still the same person, your sexuality doesn’t change your personality you’re simply being true to your soul. Also, I kind of wish I could come out like every day because it’s the best feeling ever. If you haven’t come out yet trust in your journey and don’t be so hard on yourself.”

 

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

“You can expect track releases on major labels, event dates globally and music that means something to you and me. I will also be influencing Positivity throughout the industry and supporting all gay pride events year in, year out.”

Having already been lucky enough to see Sophia in action, I cannot wait to see what else is to come. We truly hope to see more LGBTQ+ artists like her have the opportunity to perform at Pride events where they should be given first priority to share their talent with the world.

 

Sophia Essel - The Franchise (Extended Mix) - YouTube

Sophia, along with so many other LGBTQ+ artists is so deserving of support and recognition. If you haven’t already, go check out her SpotifyInstagram, and Beatport to support her amazing music. An absolute MUST is her latest release, The Franchise.

Sophia Essel

LGBTQ+ Artist

The post Sophia Essel – The female artist putting her mark on the music industry appeared first on Unite UK.

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Supporting LGBTQ+ artists in the music industry is something many of us are guilty of neglecting. But individuals like Sophia Essel are out there making waves and blessing us all with their talented abilities.

With a musical background all her life having started out singing on a cruise ship (jealous), Sophia made the jump into DJ’ing where she found her true passion and the rest is history. Personally, we saw Sophia perform at Birmingham Pride and can I just say, wow, the talent is real.

 

As a female artist, have you faced any discrimination? 

“I have faced some discrimination yes, a lot of the time men mainly suggest that us women only press buttons and look good in front of the camera. Over the last 3 years I have gained respect and do not deal with small minded people anymore or find very little are about but Female artists should not have to prove themselves. I have a passion for music and talent comes with that, I work extremely hard to create my music and am proud of who I am – gender should have nothing to do with it.”

It’s amazing to see anyone pursuing their dreams, but even more special for women LGBTQ+ individuals as we grow up facing discrimination and sometimes doubt our abilities. Sophia is proving to the world that regardless of appearance, gender or sexuality, anyone can achieve their goals.

 

Does being gay have an effect on how others see you in the industry? 

“I have found that unfortunately there are people that have an opinion on my sexuality but these people are not in my life and have nothing to do with my musical journey. I rise above negativity.”

The reality is people are always going to talk, but what we can learn from Sophia is that we don’t need to let this negativity have an impact on our lives. Being visible and striving to do what makes us happy will encourage others to do the same and in turn, prove to society that nothing can bring us down.

 

How did you realise you were gay/lesbian?

“I didn’t know, there was a rumour in school that I fancied the science teacher and when I entertained the idea I thought actually yeah I do and then was like – urmmmm there’s an issue that needs addressing here. When I think about it – I kissed the next door neighbour when I was younger who was believe it or not a girl so yeah kind of should have knew but I guess I just let it go.”

Coming to terms with our sexuality can be a crazy long journey that so many of us struggle with, which is why seeing LGBTQ+ representation in the music industry is so vital for younger LGBTQ+ individuals. Having someone to look up to who has gone through the same battle as you, makes us feel a little less alone. But what advice has Sophie got for those struggling with their sexuality?

“Please please please do not worry about what others will think of you – you’re still the same person, your sexuality doesn’t change your personality you’re simply being true to your soul. Also, I kind of wish I could come out like every day because it’s the best feeling ever. If you haven’t come out yet trust in your journey and don’t be so hard on yourself.”

 

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

“You can expect track releases on major labels, event dates globally and music that means something to you and me. I will also be influencing Positivity throughout the industry and supporting all gay pride events year in, year out.”

Having already been lucky enough to see Sophia in action, I cannot wait to see what else is to come. We truly hope to see more LGBTQ+ artists like her have the opportunity to perform at Pride events where they should be given first priority to share their talent with the world.

 

Sophia Essel - The Franchise (Extended Mix) - YouTube

Sophia, along with so many other LGBTQ+ artists is so deserving of support and recognition. If you haven’t already, go check out her SpotifyInstagram, and Beatport to support her amazing music. An absolute MUST is her latest release, The Franchise.

Sophia Essel

LGBTQ+ Artist

The post Sophia Essel – The female artist putting her mark on the music industry appeared first on Unite UK.

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As a quick side note, I want to first make it clear that whilst I currently identify as a lesbian, I definitely hadn’t quite worked that part out yet when dating my ex. I initially came out to him as bisexual.

For so many people around the world, coming out is amongst the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. Opening up about your identity to those around you can be scary, isolating, and nerve-wracking, but just how confusing does that conversation become if the person you’re coming out to is your partner?

I’d known I was interested in girls for a while, in hindsight. At school, there were definitely girls I’d be crushing on, and I was a bit too obsessed with Lynn Gunn when Pvris released ‘White Noise’, but it still took me a while to realise that this was a part of my identity and not just a passing phase, and so I didn’t come out until I was 21…and dating a guy.

One of the great things about being in a relationship is having somebody to talk to openly, so it can feel extremely uncomfortable when you realise you’re not talking about something that is, no doubt, on your mind A LOT. It can feel like you’re lying to your partner through omission, and not having that conversation was something that ate away at me for a while before I ever actually initiated it. There are some things I wish somebody had told me beforehand, though, and I’ve put these below:

1. DON’T FEEL GUILTY

Working out your sexuality can take years, and it’s TOTALLY normal to figure this out whilst in a relationship. Whether you’re crushing on same sex celebrities (again, hi there Lynn Gunn), or you’ve just put 2 and 2 together about some experiences in your past, as long as you’re not doing anything that might hurt your partner you shouldn’t feel guilty. Taking the time to think about yourself can be helpful and cathartic, and you should never feel ashamed of your own identity. In the words of RuPaul, ‘if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?’

 

2. TALK TO A FRIEND

It might be useful to confide in a friend, sibling, or somebody you trust first – this can help you get your thoughts in order about how you’re feeling, and if you’re lucky enough to have great friends it could be an opportunity to think through how you might discuss this with your partner. If you don’t feel comfortable running things by a friend, you should probably at least think about what you’re going to say. There’s nothing worse than preparing for a big conversation and then going blank or babbling! You can’t plan out a full script, of course, but a rough idea can definitely help.

 

3. CONSIDER WHAT YOU WANT FROM YOUR RELATIONSHIP

Before speaking to a partner about your sexuality, it’s worth thinking about what you want from your relationship. Is this a break-up chat? Or do you just want them to know? It’s perfectly fine to not know what you want in the long run, but it’s no doubt going to be the elephant in the room during this conversation. There’s no way to know if you’ll change your mind in the future, but if you want to stay together, make sure that’s clear.

 

4. BE FAIR

As tempting as it might be, it’s probably best not to initiate this conversation on a night out or at a party, for example. Make sure you’re somewhere that you can both communicate clearly. You’ll probably both have things to say, and whilst that can be nerve-wracking, it’s definitely the best way to go about this. Overwhelming somebody whilst they’re around others just isn’t fair, and it’ll only leave things hanging that you need to come back to later, which might well be awkward the second time around.

 

5. OPEN YOURSELF UP TO QUESTIONS

When coming out, you’re often met with questions, and it’s no different when the person you’re coming out to is your partner. I was lucky enough to be dating a guy who had previously dated a bisexual girl, so the extent of the following conversation was basically ‘you like girls? Cool’, but many partners will have a host of questions – some of which may be hurtful. It might be helpful to reinforce that this doesn’t mean you don’t care for your partner, or that you want to date other people (unless you do, of course), so that your partner knows exactly where they stand in relation to this news.

 

6. GIVE THEM THINKING SPACE

You’ve dropped something that might be a bit of a bombshell. It’s possible that your partner would need some thinking space afterwards to digest everything you’ve spoken about. Don’t overload them with texts and phone calls that evening, but make sure they know you’re happy to talk about things more if they think of questions. Inviting an open conversation in this best way to let your partner know you’re there to discuss, but that you respect their privacy too.

In all of this, the best piece of advice I would give my past self would be that you absolutely don’t need to label yourself. When we come out, it’s often assumed that we have to come out with a label, offering people the closure of saying ‘I am gay’, or using similar terms they’re familiar with, but it’s definitely okay to say ‘I think I’m interested in X’ and leave it at that. Trying to place yourself in a box can be the hardest part of coming out, and can put you off for years, so it’s important to realise that you don’t have to force yourself into one. You might change your mind later, and your sexuality may alter, but it can certainly be a good starting point.

Naomi Smart

Blogger at Unite UK

I’m Naomi, a Masters student and dance teacher currently living in London. I came out in my final year of university, at age 21, and since then have been keen to join a team such as UniteUK and use the opportunity to share my voice with others. I currently identify as a lesbian, and use she/her pronouns.

All the questions people are too afraid to ask me, answered

by Unite UK | May 14, 2019 | Naomi Smart, Queer Voices | 0 Comments

In many ways, today’s society is remarkably open. It’s increasingly possible to be yourself, whatever that may look like, with less judgement than the generations before. Even though I’m surrounded by accepting people who haven’t changed their opinion of...
Drop the ‘gay’ – it’s just sex

by Unite UK | April 18, 2019 | Naomi Smart, Queer Voices | 0 Comments

‘Lesbian sex’ and ‘gay sex’ sound like searchable porn buzz words, but the reach of these terms is far wider than any of us might think. Often, we hear references to two people, who everybody knows both identify as female, engaging in ‘lesbian sex’ – but...
Admi-GAY-tion: the fine line between wanting to be somebody and wanting to date them

by Unite UK | March 18, 2019 | Naomi Smart, Queer Voices | 1 Comment

If you’ve spent ANY time whatsoever scrolling through LGBT pages on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll have seen those memes; the ones with pictures of Kim Possible, Daphne from ‘Scooby Doo’, and a handful of Disney princesses with the caption ‘if you had an...
Being lgbt+ at a single-sex school

by Unite UK | February 12, 2019 | Naomi Smart, Queer Voices | 0 Comments

As a pre-blog disclaimer, I have to let you know that I didn’t technically come out until after school, well into my three years at uni. What I think a lot of people forget, though, is that just because somebody wasn’t out before a certain point, it...
FemmeBoy?: Finding an identity in a world ruled by labels

by Unite UK | January 16, 2019 | Naomi Smart, Queer Voices | 0 Comments

Not long after coming out, I was shopping with a friend. I tried on a button-up shirt, and asked her opinion. ‘You can’t buy that’, she told me, ‘you look so gay’. At the time, I had stared at her blankly, and said ‘but I AM gay’, and she’d told me that I...

The post Coming out to your partner – Things to think about from the girl who did it appeared first on Unite UK.

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When it comes to music, many of us are guilty of listening to mainstream artists and we accidentally ignore amazing lgbtq+ artists waiting to be discovered. Andrea Di Giovanni is one of these amazing queer artists ready to be found by the world to share their talents with us all. 

Based in London, they combine powerful messages with catchy tunes to deliver absolute tunes. On a personal level, Andrea is a beautiful human being with a heart full of gold. They devote their life to helping others and deserve recognition more than anyone. Identifying as Genderfluid, they have to navigate an industry that sometimes isn’t ready for change.

Do you face discrimination as a queer artist? 

“All the time. But it’s mostly silent which makes it so much harder to overcome. Music industry likes to stress how open it is but realistically there’s still a long way to go when it comes to queer artistry.”

We often hope that all industry’s are open to change, but in 2019 we are still faced with discrimination. It’s one of the main reasons why Andrea has chosen to live their lives so publicly on social media. With the help of social media, Andrea is able to share their message with the world and help those who have once been told they won’t make it. 

“Growing up I didn’t have someone I could look up to. Someone that could make me feel better about myself. Especially while I was living in a hostile, heavily religious and conservative environment. It’s my goal to show to young queer kids, especially in Italy, that you can be successful no matter what people say about you. I find it of pivotal importance”

Being visible in a time where hate crimes are still occurring on a regular basis, pride is needed more than ever. But with everything, sometimes the meaning is lost. Pride over the years has become a well known event to see big acts and brands often release pride related merch to capitalise on the event. 

 

Has pride become commercialised?

” What isn’t in an era of pure consumerism and capitalism. I think that we shan’t ever forget why we need Pride and that it started as a protest, a political statement. What I personally don’t like is when organisers book big names (see Ariana at Manchester Pride for example) just to sell and make more money at the expense of queer people. Diversity and accessibility should also be a priority when it comes to Pride and something I would love to see more of.”

I personally wish more queer artist like Andrea would have the opportunities to perform on main stages & remind us all why pride is a necessity. We had the privileged of watching Andrea at Birmingham Pride, where they performed their single forbidden love, myself and girlfriend were nearly brought to tears. It’s songs and performances that remind you that we’re still fighting for equality.

With such power and passion felt within the song, it’s these artists that should be headlining Pride events. But what does Andrea think pride is missing?

“A stronger sense of community, love, support and mutual respect. As of now, it seems more of a white cis boys party, with a tokenistic approach when it comes to diversity.”

Andrea Di Giovanni - Bang [Explicit] - YouTube

Andrea is one of the many artists deserving the love and support. If you haven’t already, please check out their Spotify, Instagram, and Twitter to support their journey and music. If your not sure what song to start of with, then check out Andrea’s favourite bop BANG.

Andrea Di Giovanni

Lgbtq+ Musician

To check out more content from Andrea, read their coming out story here.

The post Meet Andrea Di Giovanni, the queer artist making waves appeared first on Unite UK.

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My name is Pandora Nox, and I am a dancer/choreographer, self-taught make-up artist and drag artist from Vienna/Austria and I want to share my ‘coming out’ story with you!

“Why are we forced to make something big out of something so simple?”

So first of all, I think if we lived in a world where we all accepted, tolerated and supported each other, we wouldn’t need to ‘come out’. Sexual orientation is something so natural and fluid, so why are we forced to make something big out of something so simple? Just because it’s not considered as ‘normal’ from our so-called society.

That’s how I actually also dealt with coming out. For me, I always saw my sexual orientation as something natural, like breathing, so I never thought much about coming out or how to come out and didn’t feel like making a big deal out of it!

I always thought that the people who have the same mindset as I will stay no matter what sexual orientation, lifestyle, job, physical appearance, etc. I have. And those are the people I should focus on. The other ones, who don’t accept me for who I am, I don’t want to be friends with anyway! Of course, I had bad experiences with some people too because of my sexuality, but I guess it’s because of this mindset, why it mostly didn’t really affect me.

Still, I have to mention that it’s easy to say something like this in my position. Cause since I was a child, I am a very strong-willed, independent person who doesn’t care much about other’s opinion! Plus, I am lucky with the environment I live in where homosexuality is not seen as a crime like in some other countries, and where you can live freely and love who you want to love.

Thinking back, if I remember correctly, I guess the first person with whom I talked about my sexual orientation was my dad when I was 15 or 16. We always had a very close relationship and he is actually a very open-minded person, which made it kind of easy for me.

Most of my friends were also really supportive since most of them are either a part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves or a great supporter! Of course, I got negative feedback too, mostly from people I wasn’t even close friends with, which sometimes made me struggle too. Especially because I’m from a small town in Austria, where everybody knows everybody.

“You can only change yourself, so always try to become the best version of yourself”

The thing is: you can’t change people. You can only change yourself, so always try to become the best version of yourself! And that’s what helped me a lot, I changed my view on other people: I started to see every single person which somehow came to my life as a lesson I should learn. It doesn’t matter whether in a positive, negative or neutral way!

I really hope that one day we won’t have to ‘come out of the closet’ anymore and that we can just say we are in love and that will be all that matters. Cause as the quote says: if Harry Potter has taught us anything, it’s that no one should live in a closet!

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Pandora Nox

Edited by Ash O'Keeffe

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The post Pandora Nox’s Coming Out Story appeared first on Unite UK.

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