Coming Out — Personal stories and advice from queer people

October 11 is the Coming Out Day, which has been celebrated since 1988 and is becoming more and more famous over time. On this day, members of the LGBTQI community speak publicly about their experiences and once again loudly emphasize their identity.

Coming out means publicly declaring one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This term is an abbreviated form of the expression “coming out of the closet”, which literally means coming out of the closet. Unfortunately, we do not have an exact match for coming out in Georgian yet.

Queer people define coming out in different ways, and of course, their experiences vary.

“When I came out, I felt free.”

Luka Ablotia, a student from Abkhazia, says that coming out for him means being who you are and claiming your place in society. He was 11 when he first came out to his sister and her friend, who took this news positively. 

In his opinion, coming out might have a negative side as well, as many myths exist in the society. He experienced this firsthand, but was able to overcome this. 

“My life changed drastically after coming out. I decided I had to fight for my freedom and gain it by any means”. 

For people who are about to come out now, Luke advises that safety is the most important thing and that it is not worth coming out where a person may be in danger. According to him, everyone has the right to be who they are and love who they want.

“After coming out, you become a person who no longer needs to lie.”

Natia Utmelidze, who is a doctor, associates coming out with visibility and remembers how much one trusts people who they come out to. She says she came out to herself fairly early, but quite late- at the age of 43 to others. 

She would advise members of the queer community that a person’s reaction to them coming out might not be final, and that might change their mind after learning more about queer people. She thinks that raising awareness will change people’s reactions. 

“Coming out means looking the truth in the eyes” 

Student Ana Koxreidze says that the word she used to associate with coming out was terror, yet her own experience showed that it is not that scary. She thinks that the most important part is coming clean with yourself, everything else is secondary. 

Anna thinks that coming out to yourself is the hardest part,, as it is the first step. She says that society creates a lot of tension and makes you think that something is wrong. She believes that overcoming this is the hardest part. 

“At this point, you are probably alone and you have to deal with a lot of strange, unusual feelings and thoughts.”

She came out to her friends without planning. As she says, she was expecting a negative reaction, she thought that the relationships they had would change, and this frightened her, but fortunately this did not happen. She considers herself privileged because she is surrounded by people whose attitude did not change because of her identity.

Coming out brings changes.”

For Miko Shakhdinarian, member of Tbilisi pride, coming out is information regarding your identity, you share with your loved ones- people, who are so dear to you, that you can not hide anything from them. 

Miko thinks that if someone decides to come out to you, it most importantly means that they love you, respect you and share this with you as your opinion mattress for them. 

To make coming out a safer and more enjoyable process, Miko shares some tips.

According to him, it is important to think about the time and place, when it is better to do it – at night or during the day, during school or during summer vacations, etc. According to Miko, coming out is not worth it when you are not financially independent, because you can find yourself in a situation where your parents refuse to help you financially, and in the worst case, you can lose your housing.

“Coming out gives one the ability to let their orientation out and celebrate it”

Natalia Tchintcharashvili first came out to herself, when she fell in love with a girl. That was the first time she realized what the word Lesbian meant.  

After coming out to her mother they haven’t spoken much about the subject. About two weeks later Natalia started sharing her stories, after that her mother’s attitude changed and they resumed their prior relationship.  

“After coming out, I started to express myself. I had a superior attitude towards myself. Everything became clear.”

“First of all, coming out is disclosure with yourself and then with dear people — family, friends.”

For queer activist Tamar Jakeli, coming out means living in truth. 

Self-awareness began at the age of 5. Finally, she realized it during his teenage years, and at the age of 16, while studying abroad, she had the opportunity to tell the people around her about her sexual orientation. Tamar recalls that she received very positive reactions from her friends. As for the mother, she felt sad that her daughter would have to live in a hostile society. On the other hand, she was supportive and her love for Tamar did not change.

“When I started coming out and received positive reactions, especially from my friends, I felt freedom from the weight that had been weighing me down for years.”

Tamar also mentions the negative sides of coming out. In her opinion, it is hard to grasp that her family is always more worried about her then usual, because society’s strong stands on the matter and that queer relationships don’t get recognized. 

In her opinion, one must first find out the attitude of a set person regarding the issue, before coming out to them. 

“You can talk to them about different social issues, show them a film with queer characters, so that you are prepared for their reaction.”

Tamar says that sometimes people can surprise us, because the person from whom we expect a negative reaction may turn out to be friendly and kind to us.

“It’s a process, and before you go public with it, you have to accept yourself first.”

Queer activist and lawyer Nino Bolkvadze says that for her, coming out is primarily associated with self-acceptance.

Until the age of 35, she was silent about this issue, and practically no one knew about her sexual orientation. Nino’s coming out is related to May 17, 2013, when LGBTQ people and activists were physically assaulted by representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church and those mobilized by them and dispersed in a peaceful demonstration. According to Nino, she used to refrain from coming out, but at that time she realized that it was time to share it.

“After coming out, I had a feeling of finding myself.”

Nino says that coming out was accompanied by both harmful circumstances and positive ones. Her children’s reaction was positive. They also told their mother that they already knew about it. According to Nino, after that their relations became much stronger and closer. In terms of damage, rejection from close people is distinguished. She did not expect such contempt – she thought that since they knew her well, it would save relations, but it did not happen.

“I felt very lonely when I was hiding, ever since I was a child. When you accept and love yourself, you can take care of yourself, your health and other people, be much more productive and healthy, and regain the ability to enjoy life.”

Nino also talked about how we should behave when someone else is coming out to us. She mentioned that you come out to someone you trust, and when a person comes out to you, it should be appreciated. According to her, human support, listening to someone and being kind to them is important.

She advises that coming out should be planned in advance, as it is a process in which we should not get hurt and be safe. According to Nino, you should choose the right time and people, taking into account the economic and social situation.

“With coming out, you not only say who you are, but you start living your own life, allowing yourself to look the way you feel comfortable.”

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