Lots of people think that coming out is a one-off occasion. Those who have been through this process know that this isn't true. When you identify as LGBT coming out is a gradual process and one that you will have to repeat throughout your life to new friends, colleagues, family and acquaintances. Don't worry though, it gets better and the more comfortable you become with who you are, the less challenging it is. Here are some FAQs (frequently asked questions) we receive from callers.
Will I always have these feelings?
In our experience, if you have been attracted to the same sex for all your life it is unlikely that those feelings will change. Some people feel that they are attracted to both sexes (bi-sexuality) and their attraction is depended on the individual and not gender. In this instance people find that they can have equally strong feelings for either sex and this changes throughout their lifetime.
What if I don't want to be attracted to girls?
As you have probably experienced by now, attraction is not something we can easily control. We can decide the type of person we engage in a relationship with but that does not change who we are attracted to. Some people decide to forfeit the need for attraction in a relationship and commit to a heterosexual relationship. Others feel that this is a heavy sacrifice and seek relationships authentic to their attraction by having a relationship with someone of the same sex. Whatever you choose, you need to honest with the person you commit to, as failure to do so can be the cause of pain and anguish later on.
What if I had boyfriends in the past?
Given the fact that most people in Ireland grow up in heterosexual homes, its likely that you will have followed the societal norm of dating the opposite sex. In fact, most people who exclusively date the same sex, at one point have dated the opposite sex. Sometimes we do things because we feel a pressure to by the community or society we live in, or those around us, such as family, friends or cultural norms. Its a part of growing up and discovering who we are as individuals to try new experiences.
I still find guys attractive, why?
We may look at somebody of the opposite sex and appreciate their attractiveness , particularly those who have nice personalities or classical good looks (Brad Pitt, justin Timberlake, Ryan Reynolds, etc) but often this is different than a sexual attraction. There are some people who describe these types of attraction as completely separate but for others this is not as apparent. Those who find their attraction is the same for both sexes sometimes identity as bi-Sexual. Others learn early in this process or later in life that although they can appreciate beauty in the opposite sex, they are fundamentally attracted to the same sex. It is for this reason that people often 'come out' as bi-Sexual initially and later identify as lesbian or gay.
I just want to be 'normal'
Yes, most people do! Just because you are attracted to the same sex does not make you a less valuable member of society than somebody who identifies at heterosexual. Although statistics vary when it comes to LGB demographics, it is widely accepted that at least 1 in 10 people are predominately attracted to the same sex. If you think of all the people you know/meet/see/interact with on a daily basis, then you'll begin to understand that their are many people around you who are LGBT, most of which you'll never know are just like you.
What if my family/friends reject me?
Sometimes it is difficult for parents to understand issues of sexuality, particularly those born in times when being LGBT was considered unacceptable, or even illegal! In our experience most parents are very in-tune with their children and it is quite common for parents to express prior knowledge of their child's sexuality before it was ever communicated. It can be difficult for parents to approach this subject as they feel their child may be offended, hurt or feel uncomfortable. Often the initial reaction of a parent or family member when first learning of their loved ones sexuality is not long standing. If the reaction is that of upset or even hostility, it is common for this to subside over time when a greater understanding and empathy is achieved. Unfortunately, there are times when some parents may feel that they cannot accept their child's sexuality due to their own beliefs and religious ethos. Although this is rare in modern Irish society, it is still upsetting for an individual if they feel they have been rejected by someone they love. In our experience, it is in the best interest of each individual to be authentic to who they are, as not doing so may be the cause of long-term upset and unhappiness.
What if I want to get married and have a family?
This is a valid concern but thankfully one that is demising with the legal and societal recognition of same sex couples and families in Ireland. There are many same sex couples that raise healthy, happy families - although sometimes they're not very visible. There is still much progress to be made with regards to legal recognition of same sex families, this has not stopped the development of LGBT families throughout Ireland.
But I feel like I've waited too long!
At Dublin Lesbian Line we are always encouraged by the bravery of the callers that we talk to on a daily basis. The people who call us span a wide range of ages and none are considered an A-Typical caller. In fact, many of our callers derive from a variety of cultures, religions, backgrounds, countries and generations. We empathise with how difficult it can be for those during the 'coming out' process, regardless of age, as we have been through this ourselves. The operators you talk to have all been through this process and although the finer experiences may differ, we understand how it feels. In in a nutshell, it is never to late to come out and be who you wish to be. We all have an individual journey and yours is unique to you, so be proud of who you are!