UCL Department of Geography


Helene's Coming Out Story

Helene Burningham shares her experiences of coming out.

Helene Burningham
When we first discussed the idea of pulling together ‘coming out’ stories, there’s no doubt I was a bit hesitant … you see, I don’t really feel like I’ve ever ‘come out’ … and certainly not in an eventful way. I grew up in the countryside and spent my teenage years basically enjoying being an outdoors kid, not really having a clue about who I was beyond that. Perhaps it was easier to not think about things that didn’t make sense, but obviously, once I got to University, the confusion and the self-discovery hit me full on.

The next few years were a bit turbulent - moving countries 5 years on the trot, meeting so many different people, and negotiating friendships, mindsets, and prejudices. But by the time I started my PhD, I knew I was gay, and I had fallen in love. At some point during that period, I wrote letters to both my parents to ‘explain’ - it wasn’t easy, and I am lucky to have parents who didn’t make a big deal about it. It was what it was. And that was the full extent of my ‘coming out’ …

That’s not to say that the whole world knows though. I’ve always been a private person - I really struggle with social media and I don’t tell the world a huge amount about me full stop. To be honest, being gay is just one tiny element of who I am, it doesn’t define me, and it is really unlikely to be the first thing you would find out about me … the fact that I am vegetarian, or that I have 3 dogs, is far more likely to come into the conversation!  So perhaps I have actually been coming out every week of every year … for many years … and will continue to do so for hopefully many more to come.

It’s just no big deal to me …