"I never felt comfortable opening up about who I was; I felt like I could either be straight or
I think I always kind of knew. When I was young I never really knew what being gay was, but as I got older my mum always said that one of her kids was probably gay. It meant I was brought up knowing that my mum would never have a problem with that, which looking back now had a huge impact on my life.
Even so, I never felt comfortable opening up about it; I felt like I could either be straight or gay and nothing in between. If I came out, I'd be branded as a lesbian, so I didn’t want to say anything until I was completely sure I was.
I went to an all-girls boarding school which was a hostile environment for anyone that didn’t fit in. In the sixth form, I had a conversation with a girl who told me, "If you're gay, you wouldn’t come to a school like this." She added that clearly no one was gay because they "didn’t look gay". It was a very odd position for me; these girls were my friends and I knew they didn’t mean to be homophobic, they didn't know what they were saying.. Needless to say, I didn't come out to many people while I was at school.
The summer after I left school I decided to finally come out to everyone because I knew now there could be no downside as I was no longer at school with these girls. It went down surprisingly well actually. No one said anything bad to me or seemed to have an issue with it and it doesn’t seem to have affected any of my friendship.
From the start of university I made a point to join the LGBT+ society and bring it up in conversation with people so I wouldn’t have to come out to anyone and it would just be known. This made everything much easier and I can honestly feel that I can honestly say I feel completely comfortable in this environment being open about who I am.
I feel like I have become much closer to my friends now as I’m not holding anything back. There may have been a few ups and downs, but I think I'm a much stronger and more confident person after going through it. I hope that anyone reading this will see that being gay doesn’t have to be a bad thing and hopefully one day you will feel like you can be open about who you are.
Harriet is a Just Like Us Ambassador