Coming out online as a gay teen: Good or bad?

For those who missed this interesting tit-bit, I reprint it from the BBC Newbeat Site (Coming out…)


Tom Daley with his boyfriend Dustin Lance Black
Tom Daley with his boyfriend Dustin Lance Black

In 2013, Tom Daley used the internet to come out publicly, posting a video on YouTube.

At the time he said: “My life changed massively when I met someone, and they make me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great. That someone is a guy.”

For someone in the media spotlight, it was a bold move to do it so publicly.

But what’s it like for other gay teenagers wanting to come out? Does the internet make it easier?

As a guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, singer Tracey Thorn wanted to find out whether that was the case.

She’d noticed a lack of positive stories about young people and the internet so got author and presenter Damian Barr to sit down with several gay teenagers to find out how the internet helped them, or not.

Here are Maddie and Tom’s stories.

Gay pride flag

Maddie, 16

“I think the first person I told physically was a teacher. She wasn’t gay. She was just a nice person and I think I was 13.

Before that I talked to quite a lot of people online, who gave me the courage to come out at school.

I actually met my ‘best internet friend’ over a fan-fiction website. We wrote about Glee! I met my other ‘best internet friend’ through Tumblr.

I told her that I really liked her blog and she became one of my main support systems. We’ve actually met twice in real life which was pretty surreal.

The internet was the only thing I had prior to coming out. I wasn’t specifically looking for gay people, they just seemed to be there.

I came out on Facebook. I put a post saying ‘There are rumours I’m a lesbian and I’m not going to deny that’ and I got loads of good responses on the Facebook status

But I also had an account attached to my Facebook and had hundreds of messages telling me to kill myself.

I think it was just a few people sending a lot of messages so it was really difficult. I should be allowed to have internet access without the fear of abuse.”

Tom, 16

“I recently told my teacher and cried in front of her. I was really embarrassed and did not know how she’d react but I felt much stronger and more powerful as a result. I thought that someone does accept me!

I don’t think I came out online but the internet helped me find the resources to come out and to be sure I am interested in men only because I was really confused about whether that was my sexual orientation.

I realised that’s what I like and it won’t change. The internet helped me to realise that’s my reality.

I also watched gay Youtubers talk about how they know. I think I watched every single gay title about coming out. It made me feel that I’m not alone and there is somewhere I belong.

People also asked me on Facebook ‘are you gay?’. I was really hurt because I believed being gay was a curse. It’s been hurtful but I’m really happy to be over it.”

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