As some of you may remember, last year I did a post for National Coming Out Day featuring the stories of 8 out and coming-out LGBT individuals (including myself). Coming out is a difficult and often confusing process. I hope that hearing more stories of people coming out will help inspire courage in those who have not come out yet. I have not altered these stories in any way. These are first hand accounts of individuals who have embraced who they are.
To those of you coming out for the very first time: be brave, tell the truth and know that telling the truth, even when it’s difficult, is always the best way to live your life.
It’ll probably be terrifying. I was so terrified when I came out to my family that I didn’t even do it in person. I wrote a letter. (A letter! Left it on the kitchen table and hoped for the best.) But however you do it – in person, by letter, via email, on Facebook – do it with integrity, do it with courage. Coming out is stepping out of one life into another, so make sure your first step into your brand new life is one you took with grace.
For the rest of us: remember today that we still come out all the time. We meet new people every day, make new friends, get new jobs, join new communities. The coming out never ends, and we’re always going to have to break the news to people throughout our lives.
What we can do on days like today is remember our responsibility to those coming out today for the first time. The more we do it, the more we speak the truth of ourselves in our daily lives, the more we proudly live our decision to come out that first time, the easier it gets for everyone behind us. We make days like today less necessary and less frightening year after year.
David // 31 // Bisexual Male; bisexual is the best sexual (that tag line was a condition of him letting me post this) // South Carolina
I am a bisexual man and am in the process of coming out. I have been married for 12 years and just told my wife earlier this year. She has been by my side since I was a teenager. I grew up in a conservative home with parents that are very homophobic. I hid my sexuality from the world and tried to fix it with prayer. After 15 years of living this lie, I had had enough. I finally accepted myself for who I am. After 15 years, finally being able to look at myself in the mirror and say “I am a bisexual” was almost a coming out experience for me. It was me washing away years of guilt and self hate.
After I accepted myself I felt I had an obligation to tell her. We had the discussion and I told her. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was prepared to lose her, as I had lied to her for years. She is an amazing woman who accepted me and loves me. Our marriage is now stronger that it has ever been.
I am still not out to my family. They are the same homophobic people. I do plan on coming out eventually, but for now being honest and open with my wife for the first time in our marriage is enough for me.
I envy those that have the courage and the environment that allows them to be openly who they are on the inside.
I’ve never considered myself straight. As an identity it always seemed so narrow and inflexible and vanilla that I didn’t feel comfortable with it. But I mostly avoided using terms like queer or bi or pansexual because, despite my broad spectrum of attraction, I’d never had any non-hetero experiences until recently and I didn’t want to appropriate an identity that didn’t belong to me. So it just wasn’t something I ever really bothered to talk about. As a result, apparently most of my friends thought I was straight. Like, super straight. Like, telling-cute-queer-girls-who-might-be-into-me-that-they-were-barking-up-the-wrong-tree kind of straight. Which I didn’t find out until Pride this past year when I casually mentioned to a few friends that I was sort of involved in a decidedly not-straight situation and they were all shocked to find out that I consider myself queer. I’d never really thought about “coming out” because it just didn’t seem like a big deal but I was surprised by how good it felt to say it out loud. I wasn’t actively keeping it a secret but I realized that by withholding it I wasn’t being completely honest with them or myself. There are still some people in my life that I haven’t actively come out to but I’m learning to be more open and honest about my sexuality. And it feels really good.
I grew up fearing the day that someone would find out that I was gay. I envisioned my family disowning me and friends never speaking to me again. I carried my “secret” with me to college, where I would eventually befriend some of the most diverse, welcoming, and open minded people I had ever met in my life. They opened my eyes to the possibility of me being open, being myself, and being happy. Those are three things I never imagined could co-exist. When I finally started to tell friends and family, I realized that the person who was giving me the most grief for being gay was ME! My family still loved me and my friends still hung out with me. They didn’t see me as my sexuality but as the person they had known for 19+ years. Coming out is definitely a serious and hard process, but remember not to spend too much time fearing the worst. Live your life, be happy, and surround yourself with people who will support you!
I didn’t come out until I was a freshman in college. It was terrifying — for some reason I was convinced all my college friends would not want to hang out with me anymore. But I was very lucky, they were all fantastic and I’m still close friends with many of them today.
Then later that winter, I knew I had to come out to my parents — and that was the scariest thing I had ever done. I knew they wouldn’t disown me or throw me out, but I also knew they wouldn’t be happy. I decided to write everything out in a letter for them to read so I would be able to get everything out and not get interrupted. It ended up being a seven-page letter.
When I got home, I gave the letter to my parents and then went to my room. That was the longest five minutes of my life. When they came into my room, they were crying, but all was well. Their biggest question was “How is your relationship with God?” It was fine — I had come out to my pastor before my parents, and he was great about it.
It took my parents some time, of course, but they are wonderful. I am very fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends who love and accept me for who I am. Here I am, 16 years after coming out, with a wonderful wife (who’s a pastor!) and an awesome two-year-old daughter, and life couldn’t get much better.
My words for those coming out now — Everything is going to be OK. You will find (or you already have) friends who love you for who you are. Stay strong. Your parents and friends may have a hard time at first, but give them time. Remember you’ve been dealing with it for a long time, but they’re just now hearing about it.
Coming out, for me, was a step-by-step process of learning something and accepting it. I was lucky to have started young. It began with simply meeting young gay people when I was entering my early teens, and realizing they were no different than myself and that their struggles mirrored my own in many way. From there, it became a matter of realizing that in my stormy sea of raging hormones, there was an attraction to other guys. Even though I had been conditioned by everything: TV, film, day-to-day life, to just assume I would be straight, I was finding myself attracted to males. Once I understood the nature of that attraction, I had to learn that the feelings that I was having about men were not bad or abnormal. Once I got there, I finally started to accept that, okay, I’m gay.
It was a process that took years, and then it took just as long to come out. I told people in different ways. My best friend I told over the phone, because I couldn’t want to see her in person. My mother I told in a letter, because I couldn’t figure out how to say it while looking her in the eyes. One of my closest buddies I told on the day we first met, when I approached him and told him he was cute. The truth is you never stop coming out. The world we live in is one in which ‘straight’ is the default. It’s what nearly everything is geared toward, and that makes sense from a numbers standpoint. But it also means that as GLBT people we must always be unafraid to tell others who we are. Because no one will do it for us, and that’s okay. Because we’re strong enough to do it ourselves.
Coming Out is more of a process than I ever expected. I have come Out to friends (old and new), some classmates, some coworkers, my sister, and my partner (to clarify, we’re a different sex couple, so it could be ambiguous). I took a hugely scary step last year in coming Out to my mom. I decided to do it on National Coming Out Day & I asked for support on Twitter, Facebook, and other corners of my life. The response that I received was overwhelming. I received pages of supportive tweets, sent by a range of folks: close friends, acquaintances, people I’ve never met. I got messages from folks that were sending their stories, their fears, and their love. Some good friends teamed up and wrote a blog post on this very blog (and while it wasn’t written for me, it definitely impacted me). That evening, I called my mom and told her, through snotty tears, that I liked boys…and girls. She paused and said, “I love everything about you and, if this is part of you, I love that too.”
There will be plenty more folks that I will come Out to throughout the years, but I do hope that one day, the need to come Out will no longer exist, and sexual orientation will be a non-issue. We can make that a reality by encouraging those that are Out, those that are coming Out today, those that are considering it for their future, and those allies that offer their unbridled support. Thank you all for helping me accept myself as more of the person that I really am, and I hope that I am able to do the same for someone else.
I hope reading these stories have moved you in one way or another. To everyone who comes out today, or any other day, I commend you on your bravery. Please feel free to add your own coming out story in the comments. I’m sure we would all love to hear them.
Filed under: Advice