Essential skills for the modern world

Remember that you are in control

Coming out is not a one-off event, so treat it as an ongoing process. Lesbian and gay people usually have to come out many times in the course of their lives as they move jobs and make new friends. Similarly, coming out doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing decision. Just because you have decided to open up to friends about your sexuality doesn't mean that you need to send out an office email alert, or tell your gran. You can decide how, where and when to be out.

Acknowledge that it is stressful

Sexuality is a fundamental part of being human, and being honest about your sexuality can feel like revealing a lot about yourself. This can make you feel vulnerable. Expect to experience the gamut of emotions from fear to euphoria and everything in between.

Be patient

It has taken you time to come to terms with your sexuality, so understand that it may also take your loved ones a while to accept it. People close to you – especially parents – may experience a range of emotions during this time, from shock to denial, guilt and anger, but this is likely to change to acceptance and even pride.

Get professional advice

Lesbian and gay organisations can give advice on everything from providing emotional support to information on your employer's diversity record. Stonewall's Information Line (0800 50 20 20) will refer you to the appropriate service in your area.

Tell your colleagues

Coming out to your colleagues can feel like the most stressful part, but it can be surprisingly positive. A study last year revealed that gay people who were out at work and felt well supported by their employer were more motivated and effective and built better relationships with colleagues than those who kept their sexuality a secret.