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Owning your outing

by Morven – 30th May 2024

At age 13 I was outed by an ex-friend. I’m going to call her Sarah. Everyone I cared about loved and supported me; there was really no need for me to be so anxious about coming out at all. But that doesn’t change how scary it is. Being outed was horrible, and it’s something I still think about now.

I spent a long time thinking and worrying about my sexuality. When I read about my bisexuality, I really felt like it aligned with my experience. But I was very paranoid about being perceived as an attention seeker, so I planned to keep it to myself until I had come to terms with it and felt comfortable to do so.

Before my outing, I had told two people about being Bi, one good friend and Sarah. I had only told Sarah after she had asked me why I was having a hard time. She was the reason, but I lied, and the first excuse I could think of was regarding my sexuality. So, I told her, and I told her not to tell anyone.

The outing happened at a sleepover. Sarah was someone I was already trying to distance myself from, so I decided to go away from the main group and watch a film with another friend. It was in this time that Sarah told the group that I was bisexual, alongside some other mean things. She claimed I would stare at girls in the changing room, accusing me of some sort of sexual harassment. All of those accusations being completely made up. Later that night she pulled me aside and told me I should come out to the rest of my friends as they would be upset I hadn’t told them. After the sleepover, I was told by a good friend of mine what had been said previously. I didn’t feel ready to tell people yet, and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of coming out. But now I didn’t have a choice. Not only had I been pressured into telling people, but I knew they already knew. So, in the following days, I told everyone. And it was awful.

Owning it

I often think, “I’m being dramatic,” and that “I have nothing to complain about.” My experience could have been far worse. But no matter how you are outed, you experience matters and your reaction is valid. Despite it being an unhappy memory, I’ve learnt to own it. This is my coming out story. It might not be what I wanted but what’s happened and I won’t let it ruin my pride.

Being outed means you don’t get to come out on your own terms. It makes everything feel like it’s out of your control. But I found I was still able to feel in control after removing the people who outed me and upset from my life. I got closure from coming out on my own terms to those who I was outed too, it wasn’t instant and it took time.

I don’t know how exactly I got to a point when I can laugh about and talk openly about my outing, but I can say you are not alone and you can burn through it. You don’t have to forgive them, I know I won’t be forgiving her, but for everyone closure is different and there will always be someone you can talk to to help you figure out the correct steps to owning your outing.

If you are struggling to find someone or don’t know who to talk to I recommend calling/messaging a service like Teen Connect or childline. I spoke to childline while questioning my sexuality and I spoke in therapy about my outing, and for me those conversations with someone away from home and school was so helpful and important in my healing.

Read more from MindMate about starting difficult conversations.

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