By Dr Mimi Goess Saurau, Psychologist

Discovering yourself and your identity and where it is you fit amongst the LGBTQ+ community can be difficult, or incredibly easy. No matter what your journey was to discovering who it is you are, you are deserving of a safe environment where you feel supported. Sexual orientation refers to who one is physically or emotionally attracted to. You do not have to be sexually active in order to have a sexual orientation. Gender is the way in which someone portrays themselves socially, it is completely separate from your sex. Often what causes the most distress is not the realisation that one is not heterosexual or does not identify with the gender they were assigned with at birth, but the potential judgement that they may receive from others if they were to come out. Many people who are in the process of discovering their identity can experience fear that they will receive judgement, and even verbal and physical abuse from others, all of which can have an impact on self-esteem and identity formation. Having a safe space to talk through feelings around the coming out process can be helpful and reduce feelings of isolation.

It is also important to mention that you do not owe anyone your sexuality or your identity. Coming out is not you coming out of the metaphorical closet, but allowing people to understand you on a deeper level.