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Coco from Talk to Coco shares her experience on becoming her authentic self and being an advocate for mental health and LGBTQ+ communities.

Well, where to start? I guess there is always the feeling of dread and self-doubt when discovering who you are, especially at the age of 14, like I was. With all the barriers in front of you that society creates and the worry of how the world may see you – this was probably the hardest part of coming out for myself. People always say to me, “how did you come out?” (I don’t like to use this term as I don’t believe LGBTQ people should have to come out as, heterosexual people don’t?). In some ways, my journey of saying out loud ‘I’m gay’, was a walk in the park and I was extremely lucky regarding my family accepting me. One day, my mum texted me and was telling me how as a mother she knew I was gay and that she had known for years and, the whole family was accepting + supporting me, no matter what. However, I didn’t quite get the same loving, happy, positive reaction from the ‘school sector’ let’s say. I’ll never forget the moment my friend texted me letting me know that the WHOLE school had found out I was gay, and people were talking about it. I was never that person; I was popular, a well known liked human, and for the first time I felt at the opposite end – I felt so victimised and alone, that it was enough to make me not attend high school for at least 12 days. I felt depressed and even suicidal; I knew something had to give. 

This was the major turning point for myself. At 14years old I had to face my fears – the fear of accepting myself – and then, nobody could ever make me feel worthless again for being myself. Now, 14 years later nearly 30 years old – I can truly say I love who I am, every part of me. Through my journey of self-acceptance, I have learnt more about myself than I knew and not to conform to the ‘social norms’ society says we should be, but instead to be who I am 100% and be proud.  

The LGBTQ community has a variety of people with many similarities and many differences, which is how it should be. We are able to educate and help each other out, whether that be how we identify, to who we love, and how there isn’t one box for us all to fit into, and that’s ok. For instance, one persons’ story can educate and give understanding for others and to just have people around you that you can relate to and not feel so alone; It’s a super special bond for sure.  

So, my advice to anyone on their pathway of ‘coming out’, would be to take your time, it isn’t a race, just make sure it works for you, your journey and circumstances. As long as you’ve given yourself enough time to pursue your true self and can be proud and open about who you are. Remember, you’re not alone, and never will be even if it can feel like that at times. For the people that desperately inside want to scream from the rooftops, ‘I’m gay’, hold tight, don’t put pressure on yourself. Your time will come when you’re ready for that.   

For more advice, follow @talktococo on Instagram.  

Therefore, if you find keeping who you are locked away is effecting your mind open up! Even if it’s just to one person, it will help and you will have someone to talk to and understand the true you. 

Being true to yourself gives freedom, a freedom that nobody controls but you! 

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