Coming Out Day 2021: LGBTI+ Personalities Share their Coming Out Stories
10th October 2021
In honour of International Coming Out Day, October 11th, BeLonG To today launched a star-studded video campaign.
Access the videos at www.belongto.org/international-coming-out-day
A host of well-known Irish LGBTI+ personalities have shared their coming out story with BeLonG To Youth Services as part of a campaign to mark International Coming Out Day 2021. Leinster rugby player, Jack Dunne, Glow Up Contestant, Michael Ryan, the legendary feminist and LGBTIQ activist, Ailbhe Smyth, and BeLonG To CEO, Moninne Griffith share their coming out experiences.
- Jack Dunne (he/him), Leinster Rugby Player, talks about coming out at 18…
“I was just really paranoid. I thought everyone knew already so it was a massive weight off my chest when I did come out. Trust the people you are friends with and trust your family. If they haven’t given you any indication that they will take it badly, trust them for it. There is a reason you love them. Maybe not everyone will be happy with you, but you will be happy with you, and that’s the main thing. I don’t know what I would be like today if I hadn’t come out at 18. I am happy and lighter.”
- Ailbhe Smyth (she/her), Feminist & LGBTIQ Activist talks about the fear she experienced before coming out at 38…
“I was afraid for my daughter; I was afraid for the repercussions for my relationship. I was very afraid for my job in UCD. I was afraid for my family. All those fears and very intense anxieties. Inside myself, it just felt absolutely right. I knew it was going to be extremely hard to tell people. My family really didn’t want to know. A lot of my straight friends found it very difficult.
That wall of silence that was, which was of course, homophobic, I found it difficult but at the same time it made me very angry; I knew I had it in me to fight it.”
- Michael Ryan (he/him), Glow Up Contestant/ Drag Queen, talks about telling his family when he came out at 18…
“The first person I told was my sister. We had a deep late-night conversation, and my sister asked, ‘are you gay?’ I thought, ‘Oh God, what do I do? What do I say?
I told her, and she agreed that she would be the person to tell my parents. All these years, when I was practicing how I was going to come out, I could never quite figure out how to say it to them. My sister agreed to be the person that would do it, so I didn’t have to witness the reaction. A lot of times, if you come out face to face with someone, the first reaction isn’t always the best one and that can sit with you for years. She told them, and then a week later, I got a call from them together. They had a while to sit with and to think of the right thing to say. It was incredible.”
- Moninne Griffith (she/her), CEO BeLonG To Youth Services, shares some of the struggles she faced coming out at 30…
“Before I actually said it to another human being, I wrestled with it for a long time. I didn’t want to be gay. I wanted to be married to a man and to have children. That’s what I wanted. It became clear to me in my late twenties that my happiness depended on me being myself.
I got physically sick from the anxiety, worrying, and constantly running things over in my head as I tried not to be me. It was a very scary time. I didn’t want to hurt people. I didn’t want my friends not to like me, I didn’t want to disappoint my family. I remember sitting on a beach in Australia and being very upset and making the decision to come out because life is too short.”
The video campaign will raise funds for BeLonG To Youth Services, the national organisation which offers life-saving support to LGBTI+ young people across Ireland. Members of the LGBTI+ community are invited to donate to the charity the amount reflecting the age they came out at via www.belongto.org/international-coming-out-day
Speaking in advance of International Coming Out Day, Moninne Griffith, CEO BeLonG To Youth Services:
“Even today, in a post-marriage equality referendum Ireland, it’s still tough for young people to come out. Just like generations of LGBTI+ people who have come out before them, young people today worry about rejection, negative reactions, bullying and worse. In fact, ‘coming out’ is still the number one issue faced by LGBTI+ young people who access our services for support. Coming out can reduce some of the stress and anxiety many people feel when they are hiding part of themselves. Saying that, we always remind LGBTI+ young people that they don’t need to tell anyone until they are ready. Come out when you are ready, and you feel safe to do so. In BeLonG To you will meet other young people and youth workers who will support you on your journey to being out and proud.
With this International Coming Out Day video campaign, we hope to raise funds to continue our vital support services and be there for LGBTI+ young people and their families when they need us.”
For further media information, contact Sinead Keane, Communications & Advocacy Managers, BeLonG To: firstname.lastname@example.org or 087 768 0389
Notes to editors
- Coming out means sharing your sexual orientation and/or your gender identity with people in your life. Irish research1 shows that the time between when a young person realises that they are LGBTI+ (on average 12-years-old) and when they come out to others (on average 16-years-old) can be a period of stress and mental health risk. Young people fear that they will be rejected by their friends and families before coming out – a fear that can lead to intense anxiety and depression that can have a lasting effect. Compared to their non-LGBTI+ peers, LGBTI+ youth are two times more likely to experience self-harm, three times more likely to experience suicide ideation, and four times more likely to experience extreme stress, anxiety, and depression1.
- International Coming Out Day is an international awareness day that has been held on October 11th every year since 1988. It is a day dedicated to highlighting the positive impact and challenges faced by LGBTI+ people in coming out around the world.
- BeLonG To Youth Services is a national organisation supporting LGBTI+ young people. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBTI+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe, and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBTI+ people and offers a specialised LGBTI+ youth service including information, support, crisis counselling in partnership with Pieta, and the provision of LGBTI+ youth groups across Ireland.
1 Higgins A. et al. (2016) The LGBTIreland Report: national study of the mental health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Ireland. Dublin: GLEN and BeLonG To Youth Services.