FOR me, being open about my sexuality wasn’t my decision.

Mum found out and her reaction wasn’t great. My step-dad’s reaction wasn’t great, either. About two hours after they found out, my parents kicked me out of home and I was homeless for two days. I stayed at friends’ houses for a few days but eventually left because I felt like I was becoming too much of a burden. While I don’t want to spend too long focusing on this part of my story, I did eventually return home when my mum kindly agreed never to speak about it again. (The local church pastor convinced her I was lying for the attention, so she’s probably thinking she can just wait it out.)

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Obviously, my family weren’t accepting. While this came as not much of a surprise, it still hurt. I had hoped that they would set their personal beliefs aside and I could show them that queer people aren’t as bad as they thought, but I guess that was asking for too much.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by really supportive friends, some of whom already knew about my sexuality, and the initial feeling of loneliness when I left home quickly evaporated. Even though none of them had experienced coming out of the closet before (they were all straight), their emotional support and just being there was enough to make me feel better at the worst of times.

Along with some incredible friends, organisations like Minus18 showed me that even after being turned away by your parents, family or even your friends, there is a huge supportive community waiting to welcome you with open arms.

In the end, coming out didn’t change things as much as I thought it would. It’s definitely a relief not to have to untag myself from photos on Facebook and to be able to talk openly about boys at school. Coming out was more beneficial for my emotional state than anything else. As corny as it sounds, it gave me a strange sense of freedom.

Coming out should be something done on your own terms. It happened pretty suddenly for me and while it definitely didn’t go the way I wanted it to, I wouldn’t change a thing about it if I could.

Tim Bamford is 17 years old and lives in Melbourne. He’s also a volunteer with Minus18.

National Youth Week takes place April 10-19

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