Artwork by Austin Wang
To come out or not to come out — that is the perpetual question. No singular incident can define the collective coming-out of the LGBT+ community, nor does any one piece of advice seem sufficient enough to aid in every person’s trepidation. However, sharing coming out stories is a way to bring us a step closer as a community, both as catharsis and sometimes as an avenue to a good laugh.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, and the kickoff of OutWrite’s 2015-2016 season, our staff has conspired to share some of their personal experiences and thoughts surrounding coming out. Feel free to contact OutWrite if you’d ever like to share some of your own!!
“Before I admitted to myself that I identify as queer, I did not think that coming out to people who I care about and trust would be that hard. I also couldn’t imagine the fear of backlash that I would begin to feel in later years when I would push myself to come out to friends or people I did not know very well. I also thought that it would become easier to come out to friends as I did it more often and in some ways it has but I still feel the all consuming trepidation and uncertainty as I choose the moment to bring my identity to their knowledge. The first person I came out to was my best friend two years ago on National Coming Out Day so this is actually my anniversary. I hadn’t planned on doing it that day but had been wanting to for a while and was thinking about it a lot that week. Even though there’s still people I keep putting off coming out to and will be forever coming out, I’m glad I did on that day and have continued to do so since then. “
— Kathryn Loutzenheiser-Maese
“My first coming out was around three weeks into my freshman year, after I’d just gotten comfortable defining myself as gay. I was Skyping a friend from high school, who’d gone to NYU. She introduced me to a friend she’d made, a guy whose name I’ve now completely forgotten, and he was pretending to be gay. That conversation just provided an opening and I just casually admitted that I was gay “too.” There was a beat, and my friend was like, “wait, really?” Looking back on it now, I just laugh at how random it was. I’d never imagined a perfect coming out moment, but that certainly wasn’t it. It showed me that reality can often be more bizarre than any scenario you can come up with your head. My friend’s reaction, like all my high-school friends I’d come out to later on, was really positive, and that really encouraged me in further exploring my identity at UCLA.”
— Bradley Aranha
“There’s no timeline or deadline for coming out. Do it on your own terms, when you feel comfortable and ready. You rock!”
— Amy Wang
“Coming out is always an important moment in the life of LGBT people. When we think about it, we remember the courage and the fears of that moment, sometimes with sadness and suffering, often with joy and pride. For better or worse, many of us feel relieved because the moment is past, and we won’t have to face it again, at least with our parents (although we sometimes come out twice in that regard). Anyway, people’s lives are full of coming outs, and I am not talking about just sexuality. When in the bus or at school, with friends or strangers, we can be caught in those so “funny” homophobic jokes or conversations we are called to come out as humans. We should stop them, and explain (yes, explanation is still required) why this constitutes the first step of discrimination, and that they are not so funny, after all. Sometimes it requires courage because it is never kind to stifle our friends’ sense of humor. Sometimes it requires even more courage because claiming decency is like coming out. But, as I said, it is not only a question of sexuality, rather it is a broader question of the humanity everyone is called to reveal.
So, for all the people who have not come out yet, feel relieved: it will be just one of the many. Coming out day is every day.”
— Francesco Piluso
“I came out by telling my mom what she read in my journal is accurate. She asked, ‘why?’”
— Erik Adamian
“When I came out to my then-twelve year old sister, I had interrupted her perusal of a YA novel. She turned to me, eyes wide, then turned back to her reading and stated ‘You have to give me some time to process — I thought this only happened in books!’”
— Shayna Maci Warner
“Before I came out, I always dismissed the culture surrounding coming out as hyper-anxious and unnecessary. I was aware that homosexuality was the hypothetical elephant in the room in my fairly traditional small town, but like most uncomfortable topics, subtle gestures and underhanded comments left everything to be assumed rather than talked about. My friend group was a fairly tight knit circle of queer girls, and I think most of them knew I was gay even before I knew it myself. From time to time, they’d ask about my sexuality, and I was always incredibly defensive of my presumed heterosexuality, truly emulating the internalized homophobia that plagued my community. Several months before I came out, a close friend joked, “Wait until you’re in college. I’ll give it one week before you realize you’re a lesbian.” It didn’t take quite that long. I made the decision to come out as pansexual to my mother after I had been in a relationship with my best friend for about a month. Suddenly, I was terrified, and I truly understood why there was such a hype around coming out. My mom had always been incredibly supportive of all of my endeavors and decisions, but I never kept any secrets from her, and I didn’t want to disappoint her. When I finally told her, it was no surprise. “Olivia! Do you think I fell off the turnip truck yesterday?’
“I felt so liberated after coming out, and so incredibly blessed that I have such a supportive mother and supportive friends. After I came out, my mother reiterated a mantra that she often spoke to me as a child: It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you love what you do and you do it well. I hope I’m doing all right.”
— Olivia Brook
“Personally, when I sit and reflect about my most distressed moment in life, I can honestly tell you that at that brief point in time, there was not an ounce of my body that felt as if I could wake up the next morning and feel “okay”. Specifically, coming out as gay was my most fearful moment, yet it is also important for me to mention that those final moments after it was all said and done, were surprisingly some of the best few moments of my life.”
— Rocky Rojas
“I came out to myself my senior year of high school. I panicked and told some of my closest friends, only to find out they supposedly already knew. I wasn’t sure how I felt about them knowing something so personal about me before I knew myself. To this day, I’m still struggling to figure out my identity. I think it’s an ongoing process that never really ends.”
— Trang Le
“In light of National Coming Out Day, I’ve been reflecting on my coming out and find that I don’t really have one. In a way, I’m glad I was able to avoid the horrors that some queer people have had to deal with coming out, but wistful for the good experiences I’ve heard and read about.
In a way, I’ve never had to come out. Because I don’t subscribe to society’s bullshit gender binary, my parents pretty much assumed that I was gay from the day I could talk. Whereas other little boys were playing with their firetrucks and rough-housing, I was playing dress-up with my mom’s clothes…
This summer marked my real coming out when I met someone. He was my summer fling quasi-boyfriend thing and I brought him over for dinner one night, unannounced of course. My mom came home that evening and was bewildered to find a strange curly haired boy in her house, but took it in stride when I introduced him as my boyfriend.
Though not technically a real coming out, I appreciate my family’s open mindedness and trust in me. My only wish this National Coming Out Day is that more people get to receive this kind of acceptance and unconditional love.”
— Kent Tran
Now here’s a video that we thought went perfect for this special day!