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Community Connections

Coming Out: Life as an open conversation

Sophie Cherryh
Bachelor of Pharmacy student

We had always been the sort of family that talked openly about everything in our house – from politics to sexuality.

So when I came out, the thing that stands out most about it was the complete lack of drama. It just wasn’t a huge deal, and I think that’s how it should be.

I was in Year 12 when I realised I was queer. A gay-straight alliance had been started at my college, and that was when I started to wonder about my sexual orientation.

I came out to my twin brother first … I think he just said ‘uh-huh’ or something like that … I knew it would make no difference to him! And then to my sister, mainly because she was bugging me about contraceptives, and I thought that would shut that down (it didn’t, she just switched to talking about barrier methods instead).

Then I talked to my mum. I was slightly terrified before, but like I said – there was no drama. I remember that the conversation just moved on to things like how the gender dynamic in dating would be different for me, more egalitarian.

Having said that, I still wasn’t 100 per cent sure about the reaction I’d get before I came out to my mum – even when you think you know where someone is coming from about something like this, there can still be that little bit of uncertainty when it comes to how they’re going to react to you.

I haven’t had an actual conversation with my dad about it, but my girlfriend is over all the time and he’s always seemed fine.

When I came to uni, I decided to be out to everyone, but just as it came up in conversation, rather than making some kind of big announcement. Partly because people often just make assumptions, and ask me if I have a boyfriend.

It’s all gone really well – I’m in the fourth year of my degree now, and I’ve never had anyone react with meanness or homophobia.

In fact, I think that many people haven’t even noticed.

Last semester, my girlfriend walked me to class every day. And one of my classmates asked what I was doing for the semester break, and when I said I would be going to spend it with my girlfriend in their home town near Coffs Harbour, he was pretty surprised!

I know that in previous generations, it was a lot harder. You had to make sure that it was safe, before you could come out – and many people still do, around the world. But in Australia, and in Canberra, society is a lot more accepting now, there’s comparatively much less homophobia.

It’s a lot easier to come out to other people of my generation; sometimes it can still be a little scary with older people.

I found out that my sister told the rest of my extended family after I came out to her. My cousins and I openly talk about who we’re dating. And when I house-sat for my aunt and uncle, I asked if my girlfriend could come over and they were fine with it.

I always wanted to tell my grandmother. My sister and mum were a bit concerned about how she’d react, but I thought she would be fine. I had joined the Canberra Gay & Lesbian Qwire, so I decided a to invite her to a recent performance – she used to be a singer herself, so I thought she’d like seeing a grandchild continue her musical legacy! We’ve gone out for lunch since, so if she has realised, she hasn’t reacted negatively or anything.

Read more Coming Out stories here:

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