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National Coming Out Day originally created in 1988 to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community. It’s purpose was to encourage others to “come out” to their friends and family as a way of showing that while many believe they don’t know anyone in the LGBTQ+ community, chances are, they actually do.
While I one day hope to live in a world where coming out will no longer be necessary because straight and cis will no longer be the default, I recognize that for the majority of people, coming out is one of the hardest things you can do. It is also one of the most courageous. So on this National Coming Out Day, The North Star wanted to highlight four of these courageous humans, and provide them a platform to tell their stories.
On October 11, 2019, I came out to everyone I knew.
I’d submitted an article to my local newspaper for World Mental Health Day about accepting my sexuality, and the internal struggles I was going through, despite appearing to be happy. Not even knowing the two days coincided, my article was released on National Coming Out Day.
That day was crazy.
I got called into my principal’s office right when I arrived at school in the morning because she had read my article and wanted to see how I was holding up. We are very close and she was hurt to hear about the battle I was going through alone for so long. We both cried that morning.
The rest of the school day was a blur. I remember almost passing out during my last period. I was so anxious. When I got home, there were flowers and a candy basket. A family friend had seen my article and dropped it off. It was kind of a weird gesture, but I appreciated it.
I couldn’t wait any longer. The article had been out all day, other kids were going to see it eventually. I might as well post it myself.
I should also mention that homecoming was that same night.
I was in the running to be homecoming king. I didn’t want to go anymore, but I did. When I showed up, I saw one of my friends and was immediately shaken up. Everything was so overwhelming, it didn’t feel real. I was announced homecoming king and it was crazy. My parents were there for me. I felt so loved.
I had come out to the world that day. The secret I thought I would die with was made known to my entire extended family, kids I sat next to in class, people I ran against, strangers I used to be friends with — everyone.
However, before I came out to everyone else, I had to come out to myself.
That happened in June 2019. When Lil Nas X came out as gay on the last day of Pride Month, I finally came to terms with the feeling I’d had inside of me but tried to suppress for so long. Lil Nas X coming out and my discovery of Kevin Abstract and Frank Ocean’s discographies led me to accept the fact that I was gay. Before them, I had not felt seen.
They made me realize it is okay to be Black and be gay at the same time.
I accidentally came out to my friends towards the end of September of that year. The next day I told my parents. I was hesitant to allow people beyond my circle to know. Eventually, it occurred to me that Lil Nas X was probably hesitant too. My story needed to be told.
I am a first-gen Latina and a first-gen college student, who came out of a very religious household where homophobia was a way of life.
I came out at 30 years old after completing a BA, MA, and being halfway through a Ph.D. I purchased a home for my parents to retire into after working multiple jobs to move my parents into a lifestyle they never sought or thought to seek themselves.
Coming out proved to be the culmination of 30 years of extreme success being turned into a “failure” that outweighed my successes in one night.
The night I came out to my parents was roughly five years after my brother outed me as a way to “get me in trouble” since I was viewed as the “perfect child.” Five years prior to this night, I explained to my parents I was still seeking my truth and that I had a right to do so. It seemed my parents had spent those five years in blissful ignorance regarding my questioning sexuality.
I officially came out because I was moving into the home I had bought all of us, but my mother did not want me to. She did not want me to move into my home because my partner at the time was going to be living with me.
She did not want me to move because she did not want to admit to herself that I was a lesbian.
When I told her I was moving into our home, that I was going to live with my partnerand that I was gay and she knew it, she burst into a fit a selfrage and pity.
She asked me why I could not wait for her to die to live my truth?
She asked me why I was doing “this” to her?
She asked me why I could not choose to live how she had imagined my life for me?
I left that night in tears because my mother said she would kill herself as a result of my truth. I called my brother who lent me support and told me he would handle my mother. I went to Canada the next morning for the weekend. I cried, but I also blossomed.
Five years later, I have a Ph.D., a second home, and am engaged to my new partner. My parents live in the home I bought them. They love my partner and show me support in the ways they know how. Although they never call my partner my fiance, I know they support us.
Coming out proved to be the demise of my fearful self and the flourishing of my “Phoenix.”
I’m a multi-racial, 35-year-old woman and I’ve liked girls since I can remember.
When I was about [five-years-old], I got caught kissing a neighborhood girl. I slept all night under my bed because my mom said she was going to tell my dad. I don’t think she ever did, nor do I think she thought very much into it.
I’m now married to my best (female) friend of 24 years.
We met in middle school and had been friends for years. We played on our middle school basketball team together and hung out every day. When we were in high school, we went to different schools but continued our friendship. She and one of our other friends used to come over every day after school and fall asleep on my waterbed throughout middle and high school.
As a sophomore, at a basketball tournament, me and two of my closest teammates were outed to our parents. For me, it was no big deal and was no surprise to my mom. For my friends, it was a completely different story. We went from hanging out every day to not be allowed at their houses.
I was so thankful that my mom was so open and welcomed all of my friends to hang at our house. Her words were always, “at least she can’t get pregnant.” I always found that to be the absolute funniest and best response. I’m so thankful I was able to be me at home and grateful that my friends could be themselves there too.
As teens, for us, being gay was the norm. I had a tight-knit group of friends, about nine or ten of us, and seven of us were gay. We always felt comfortable with each other. We were still in the discovery phase, trying to figure out who we were and we always ended up back with the crew. I don’t remember ever feeling ashamed.
Thinking about it now, as an adult, I just feel so lucky to have had them all growing up. I fit in and was accepted. We discovered ourselves together.
I’ve now been married to my bestie for five and a half years. Together, we have just begun our fertility journey to have a child of our own. As teens, when I got pregnant (and proved my mom wrong haha) with my, now, 16-year-old daughter, my partner spent every day going on craving runs or napping with me.
Now we’re extremely excited to take the journey together, again, from start to finish.
The first time I came to terms with my sexuality I was in 10th grade and on the A train.
I was coming home from rehearsal for our school’s production of “Love’s Labor’s Lost.” I was completely lost in [the] music, as usual, while getting squashed by people who were just trying to grab a hold of the nearest pole and stay awake. That mixture tends to make my mind race. I distinctly remember looking up at the signs above me and suddenly thinking “huh, I’m bisexual.” It was unexpected and strange, and I immediately felt like a 10-pound weight had been lifted off of my chest.
But there was also a heaviness when I realized I had to come out to my parents.
It took me about a week to come out to them. I spoke to my therapist first and she coached me through ways of phrasing it. Having her support was so life-changing. When I finally sat down and came out to my parents, they just said “okay.” I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t that.
It was a strange mixture of gratefulness and relief, but also rage and confusion at the fact that it was so nothing to them. Looking back at it now, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. That wasn’t the last time I came out.
The second time I came out was as non-binary. That realization was almost as sudden as the first. I was laying in bed — which also gets my mind racing — and I just started thinking about my gender and how much more comforting they/them pronouns are. It felt pretty easy confronting my parents about it because they were so accepting the first time, but I guess a part of me worried that gender would be an exception to them.
When I came out that time, it was first to my mom upstairs. The words just kind of spilled out. She hugged me after for a long time, but then said, “isn’t they/them grammatically incorrect?” I was taken aback by the question. At the time, I didn’t realize it was a microaggression but it certainly didn’t feel good. I also didn’t realize just how much more I would hear it from strangers, even after Merriam Webster announced it officially as grammatically correct. I didn’t get mad at my mom though. I was just happy that she accepted me for who I am.
I went downstairs and told my dad and brother. They were also very accepting. I mean, there was definitely a confusion that came along with it. What does non-binary mean? Do they have to use they/them pronouns every time? It was a relatively new concept for me and my family, but being able to learn and grow with them was so great. That wasn’t the last time I came out either though.
The third time I came out was as pansexual. At that point, I figured if I’m non-binary than I would have to be pansexual since I couldn’t label myself as a lesbian or straight. Now, however, I realize that it’s more of a spectrum than my black and white mind thought.
There are non-binary lesbians, straight non-binaries, bisexual non-binaries, demisexual non-binaries, asexual non-binaries, pansexual non-binaries, and so much more. In fact, being bisexual includes being attracted to non-binary people. Pansexual just means you like people regardless of their gender. I do think the label pansexual fits me well now. My parents do too. They were so supportive the third time too, though we also joked about the frequency of my coming out. Whenever I went into their room to talk to them alone after that, they asked me if I was coming out again.
Coming out takes a lot of work. It’s so scary. And it’s so important to have supportive parents. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for my parent’s acceptance and willingness to grow and learn with me through my process.