It's a big deal. You can't guess the reaction - even from the people you love and trust the most. But there comes a point where you simply must come out because if you don't, you are living a lie and, for most of us, that simply isn't appealing. The day has to come. Today was that day for Conservative MP and cabinet minister David Mundell. We can assume at the age of 53, he's had plenty of time to think long and hard about whether to do this. In his statement, Mundell, who is the Scottish Secretary and has three children, talked of a "New Year, new start" and "one of the most important decisions of my life".
I can't quite believe I'm saying this but next year marks my 25th anniversary as an out and proud gay man... It feels like yesterday, but a lot has happened in the last two and a half decades that has made me thankful that I'm not 19 again, despite the perception that things are now a lot easier for young gay men and women.
Coming out is probably the most awkward, fumbling thing you could ever imagine. It's like being inside a really warm closet filled with fluffy jackets, but where all the coat hooks are stabbing at you. It's something that doesn't just happen once; it has to be done on a constant basis. And despite what everyone says, taking the leap of faith is not the only option. Unfortunately, before you read any further, you need to know that there's no right and no wrong answer. All I can tell you are the things that I have learned in my 21 years of being a booted-and-sometimes-suited lesbian. My ramblings are not the definitive answer to dealing with sexuality. All I hope is that they provide a little light relief.
It took a long time for me to realise, with the help of counsellors at the Rainbow Project and Lifeline (two fantastic resources that I was able to use to save my own life) that I am loved, I am valued and I am as deserving of happiness as anyone else. But it has to start with accepting yourself first.
Think you have everybody covered? Relatives, friends, key people at work - check. However, you're not out of the woods yet. We live in a world where there may be equality in law, but socially, we've still a long way to go. Even a simple trip to the doctor, or a casual chat with a colleague, and having to say that dreariest, laborious word "partner", like you're in love with a law firm, is an act of coming out.
For a 16 year old who is confused about their sexuality, to hear, "...that's so gay" on a daily basis in the classroom, they look to their teachers to take a stand and stamp out any behaviour, with absolutely no hesitation. I know that the majority of our teachers would do this, however all teachers must be more confident to tackle this issue straight away.
Coming out as trans to my friends and family was both the easiest and the hardest thing I have ever faced. I had touched upon the subject with two friends in a light hearted manner to see what their reaction would be a few months prior to 'coming out' but I was not ready to fully engage with them the depths of how I felt or how serious I truly was...