The average age in France for a coming-out is around 21 years old. Yet there is no established rule that links age and assertion of sexual orientation. While some know their attraction to people of the same sex from an early age, not all are ready to accept it. In addition, it is sometimes impossible to understand that one is homosexual, bisexual or transgender as societal or family norms can constrain and prevent any awareness. There is no age to accept one's homosexuality or to announce it. [link on the words "there is no age to accept one's homosexuality" to https://dev.happygaytv.com/fr/article/n-ot5/age-coming-out] Sometimes you have to wait 40 years, or even half of his life, sometimes even retirement for some. This is called late coming out, which usually occurs after the age of 30 and often after having lived in a heterosexual couple or even having started a family.
What is late coming out?
Understanding, accepting and assuming one's homosexuality are very different stages in the life course of gays and lesbians. It can sometimes take years to move on to the next step.
Whatever the reasons, this journey can take time and lead some people to come out late.
After 30, having already experienced heterosexual relationships almost automatically, perhaps even after marriage or conception of a child.
Understanding may even come much later or acceptance may not seem possible until after the adult children have left home.
It may be a feeling of shame that suddenly takes hold of you or that gradually sets in, a feeling of not being in your place, of lying to you and your loved ones, questions that appear, perhaps even memories of past attractions that resurface.
Or a shock in a look. Love at first sight for this woman crossed between two meetings, a deep and sudden attraction for a man observed from afar. It is sometimes a first homosexual relationship, platonic or not, that will turn all your beliefs upside down and make you go into high gear through the stages of acceptance.
Late coming out therefore concerns both people who have known they have been homosexual for a long time, but do not assume it and live a lie or even a double life, both repressed homosexuals who discover their sexual attraction long after their first experiences.
Either way, coming out belatedly comes with special challenges: between relief and considering the impacts it will have on loved ones, family, anyone you are committed to.
Partner, family life and revelation of his homosexuality
The great particularity of late coming out is that it often occurs in the middle of situations where the person concerned is already engaged in life projects. These projects may have taken the form of heterosexual marriage or cohabitation, of family life with young or already grown children and of a whole social circle built.
If you want to come out in this kind of situation, you will surely have to deal with strong emotions:
- The feeling of betraying your commitments, such as those made in the context of your romantic relationships,
- The guilt of making your partner, your children and even your parents suffer for whom your situation as a classic father or mother was synonymous with success,
- The fear of being rejected by everyone and of finding yourself alone, isolated from your "friends".
These feelings, it is legitimate to feel them, but they should not be an obstacle to your coming out.
Some agree to live their homosexuality in secret, sometimes leading a double life. The tidy life conforming to everyone's supposed expectations and a hidden homosexual life. Unfortunately, these situations are too often synonymous with suffering and further fuel feelings of betrayal, guilt and fear. And all this for in the end, not being able to fully live his homosexuality. It's loser loser.
It is obvious that one must take into account the realities of his current life and the possible consequences of his coming out. You can proceed in stages to make sure you do as little harm as possible, but you are not responsible for how those around you or your family will receive the announcement of your homosexuality.
Here are some tips if you find yourself in this situation:
- Find out from LGBT+ groups, others have gone through similar situations to yours, they are potential supporters,
- Be objective about your current situation: without imagining the worst, ensure your financial independence and avoid disclosing your sexual orientation one-on-one with people who are homophobic or have a history of violence.
- Choose to reveal your homosexuality to your partner before or after a breakup, you are completely free on this point,
- Surround yourself little by little with allied people thanks to LGBT communities or your most open-minded relatives.
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Should you come out to your children?
If you have decided to fully live your homosexuality, it seems difficult to hide it from your children. The question would therefore rather be: when should you come out to your children?
As you can imagine, there is no universal answer. The key is to feel ready, to respect their emotions, to explain to them in simple, age-appropriate words, and of course to reassure them of your love for them.
Regardless of their age, they are able to understand that you can love someone of the same gender.
However, nothing obliges you to announce that you are gay or lesbian to your children as soon as you accept it.
For some, it is more comfortable to wait until they have fully accepted their new identity and are clear and at peace with themselves before telling their children about it. If the father or the mother is a true ally in this stage, it will obviously be easier to live with.
The reaction of children will most certainly be instinctive and may surprise or even hurt you. Give them time to come back to you to discuss the subject in more detail when they have questions.
Whether you're 30 or about to retire, you have the right to live a life aligned with who you are. It's never too late to come out, even if it can be called late.