One out of every two Americans has someone close to them that is gay or lesbian, and one in ten have someone that is transgender. For those that have come out to their friends and family, their story is one of a personal journey, unique to their experiences. And when it comes to coming out, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Some may officially come out, others will not feel safe to do so, while others will just simply live their lives. As we celebrate National Coming Out Day on October 11th, it’s important to honor everyone who has bravely taken steps to live authentically and unapologetically on their own terms. So however you identify, let’s take a minute to celebrate these beautiful coming out stories filled with love and acceptance.
1.”I was crying the whole time, but they weren’t tears of sadness. Coming out was the biggest weight that ever came off my shoulders.” -Insider.com
"I got home from church after my conservative pastor gave his most homophobic sermon yet, and I sobbed into my pillow in my bedroom. My mom heard me and asked what I was crying about. The words were too difficult to speak. But she put things together and realized that I was upset about the sermon, and she finally asked, 'Do you think you're gay?' That's when I said yes. We spent the next hour sitting together on her bed eating In-N-Out French fries while she asked me about all of my high school crushes. I was crying the whole time, but they weren't tears of sadness. Coming out was the biggest weight that ever came off my shoulders."
2. “Your story is the key that can unlock someone else’s prison. Stop letting shame silence your testimony.” -Nicole Flynn, South Africa: Coming Out
“juste être.” It means “just be” in French.
Beautiful isn’t it? For so long now I’ve held onto this, I’ve etched it onto my heart; and told myself that this was my mantra for life – that I was going to be myself fearlessly and unapologetically, authentic; regardless of what anyone has to say except the star breather Himself. But the truth is, my life has been a series of everything but that.
For so long now I’ve hid behind a facade; this perfect persona I’ve created. The lies and tainted versions of myself hung up for show and tell. My life, one big [socially acceptable] masquerade. A role play of the century. These past few months more than ever, I’ve felt the walls within crumbling and closing in on me, the pain I tried so hard to hide seeping through the once believable fake smiles. This thing I’ve spent my whole life running away from.
But I can’t do this anymore. I won’t. Today, I say no to being silenced. I say no to shame. No to being someone I’m not for the sake of others. Today, I say yes to self-love, to living authentically regardless of what comes my way. Today I make my 8yr old self proud. – I take off my mask and proudly and openly embrace my place in the LGBTQ+ community – thank you for welcoming me with open arms even when I was still in the closet; still in denial and broken in my pursuit to live a lie.”
3. “I come from a Black, Southern, and religious family, so the thought of coming out was a terrifying feeling.” -Antwan: Byrdie, 5 LGBTQ+ Individuals Share Their Coming Out Stories”
"I come from a black, Southern, and religious family, so the thought of coming out was a terrifying feeling. I came out initially to my mom through a text message when I was 21. She told me she loved me no matter what and referenced a scripture in the bible about Sodom and Gomorrah. Out of fear over the mixed reply, I decided not to engage it, and we entered a phase of don't ask, don't tell. I live in California, so it was easy to live two separate lives. I tried again seven years later when I was in a serious relationship.
This time, when I came out, I was a little more unapologetic, approaching it with a take-it-or-leave-it stance. I was ready to say goodbye to my family if I wasn't accepted because I felt the person I was presenting to them was a complete lie. I called and texted my family that I would be changing my relationship status on Facebook and wanted to let them know before social media found out. To my surprise, everyone was super supportive. My stepdad and mom are my biggest advocates. It's a process, and everyone has to approach it their own way and in their own time. It's very important to be true to yourself at all costs. You are not alone."
4. “What’s beautiful about the human experience is we all have differences, whether they be our political standing, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, race or culture, and some of us don’t fit perfectly in one tiny box. I know I certainly don’t.” -Chris Kinney, Olympic bobsledder: Out Sports/Coming Out Stories
“During my long journey through sport — starting with track and field and now in bobsled — I learned to become authentically and unapologetically myself, learned to have pride in myself, learned to never compromise my character, to over-magnify one part of myself over the other, or to alter who I am in order to attain acceptance, including my sexual identity. This was something that took me almost 30 years to master, but it resulted in me competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics as an out athlete on my four-man bobsled team.”
5. “By putting myself more out there, people will be able to know that I am transgender and proud and learn more about transgender issues.” -Avery Jackson, the first transgender person to appear on the cover of National Geographic at nine years old: Best of Life: 15 Coming Out Stories that Will Melt Your Heart
Avery Jackson, 9 years old in 2017, was the first transgender individual to grace the cover of the 128-year-old magazine, in a special edition devoted solely to gender issues around the globe. Avery never intended to be a trailblazer for gender identity, growing up, "I really just wanted to be myself," Avery told USA TODAY. "I'm just a girl." Avery’s story started when she was very young. Avery's mother, Debi Jackson, said her child went from being a "happy, outgoing 2-year-old boy to becoming sullen and depressed" between the ages of 3 and 4. Avery became angry and withdrawn and hated going to preschool, Jackson said. "She started talking about death a lot."
When Avery dressed up in a princess dress, the darkness lifted, said Jackson, who also has a son Anson, 11, with husband Tom, 41. The couple thought their child was a gay boy and "it would be OK."
One day when they were walking through Target on a holiday shopping trip, Jackson said Avery turned to her and said: "You call me a boy, you think I’m a boy, but you know I’m a girl on the inside, right?"
What followed were pediatrician visits, sessions with a genetic therapist and the decision to let Avery dress as a girl on the weekends.
And then came another pivotal moment, Jackson said. Avery was going to a birthday party on a Sunday afternoon and her mom asked her to put on boy clothes for a few hours. "No," Avery said. "I don't want to pretend to be a boy." Avery dressed as a girl and none of her friends "batted an eye," Jackson said.”