51 Faces & Bums For Pride
Pride month feels a bit different this year. We’re living in a time of a global pandemic and aggressive police brutality. People are dying around the world from coronavirus, being murdered for the color of their skin and sexuality. Never forget that Stonewall was once a riot against police brutality 51 years ago when the first brick was thrown.
Although we won’t be parading around with the people we love this year.
Love Wins & Love Will Always Win
Produced by @thetravelinbum, We hope you enjoy the faces of 51 members of the LGBTQ+ community who came out to share their stories & how they plan to celebrate pride this year.
I think we all have come out to different people at various times. The first person I came out to was the hardest for me. Getting the words “I’m gay” to come out of my mouth took me months to even say after I told my friends. It was the day after my 21st birthday and I was sitting in the middle of grad class next to my friend Alyssa, who is currently my roommate. She just looked at me and said so did you have fun last night? (Knowing damn well I snuck a freshman boy into my house for the first time last night) I just said yes I barely remember it though. She then said so who was the guy you brought back he was cute. At that moment my stomach dropped and I felt like I was going to throw up. I looked at her and she just said Perla I don’t care what you do, you can talk to me about it, I’m not going to say anything. In that moment my 21 years of built up secrets spilled while I was subtly trying to pay attention in class.
District Of Columbia
My best friend Lindsey was the first person I’d ever told about my sexuality. I was living in Orlando, Florida at the time and we had just finished a day trip to Magic Kingdom. Before heading back home, we decided to stop at a restaurant and for some reason I just needed to tell someone. It had been bottled up for so long that I waited until she was stuffing her face with tortilla chips to say “can I tell you something? I’m gay.” Without missing a beat (or chew) she jumped up, gave me the biggest hug, and thanked me for trusting her enough with my secret. She assured me that she would always be there for me and has been the foundation of my chosen family ever since.
Lillian Lennon – @MsLillianLennon (She/Her/Hers)
Like far too many of us within the LGBTQ+ community, my coming out story was not one I can look back on fondly. I grew up in a home unwilling to accept me for who I was, and coming out only intensified conflict within my family, my depression, and my personal struggle to accept myself. Shortly after coming out, I was abducted by hired men and sent to a residential treatment facility in Utah for over two years where I underwent conversion therapy. Since then, I have returned to Alaska, reestablished a relationship with my parents, and have begun a lifelong career in activism. My coming out story is a part of me and I use these experiences to be a stronger advocate for my community, but I refuse to let it define me. Supporting and accepting Queer folks (especially youth) really does save lives. attention in class.
I never really had the moment to “come out” to my parents. I was in 8th grade when I came out, so I was young, and when you tell your young friends things they tend to tell their parents, who then told mine. Of course it was not how I would have wanted them to know, and I was so nervous for them to mention anything, but they didn’t. As I became more comfortable with myself, later in life I remember asking my Dad what he thought when he found out. He very eloquently said, “Christopher, you never needed to come out to me. Neither did your sister (who is straight), because it is not my business who either of you want to love- it’s yours. It IS my business to support you and love you regardless.” In just one moment, any anxiety I had held onto from my earlier years fell away. I felt loved and supported, and made it my mission to pass along that feeling to my loved ones from then on.
Coming out is a very memorable experience for each person you come out to, I think. The variety of people, the reactions you receive good or bad. I have an older sister who is a lesbian, so you would think her being out would make it easier for me, you would think, anyway. I didn’t come out until I was 25. I was going through a very dark, deep depression and one day I honestly just woke up and was like “f it” I’m going to come out. I couldn’t keep hiding that part of myself and living that lie. So I told my siblings and my close friends over the course of like three days. Then I went to my parents house and told them. I had quite a positive “coming out” experience, which I’m grateful for. I know not everyone gets that, which is really unfortunate and sad.
Pride is going to be very different this year and it’s going to be an adjustment for a lot of people. As a community, pride is a time when we can really feel like we belong and connect with so many people. One of my favorite parts of pride is making my outfits so obviously I will be able to still do that. I plan on spending a lot of time with my gay friends this summer and hopefully making many more. Lastly I plan on reading The Stonewall Riots by Gayle Pitman. With the state of the country currently, I think it’s more important than ever to know our history and understand the importance of protesting and the impact we can have by using our voices.
William Roehl – @HawaiianMerman
I was a really difficult teenager, high school was rough and I struggled immensely my junior and senior years. I was a competitive swimmer and water polo player, took advanced classes, and was in an advanced language immersion program. My aptitude was high but my motivation had burned away. Feelings about my weight and appearance consumed my waking hours. I remember thinking I’d rather live a year in a perfect body than a lifetime in the one that I hated. Sleep deprivation from both my activity schedule and my own choices fogged my mind. The way I was treating my body made it nearly impossible for me to even begin to comprehend things like my AP Biology coursework even though I loved the subject. I was trapped in a mental fog where I could see my end goals but never find my way there. This led to failing grades, quitting my water polo team in the middle of a game, and volatile relationships with my social circle and Mom.
The tension between my mother and I escalated over my senior year. In the middle of one of our weekly midnight screaming matches I responded to one of her questions with “It’s because I’m fucking gay!” My Mom went quiet (usually a bad sign) she walked out of my room and sent my little sister in. My sister was great. She hugged me and told me she loved me while I cried.
We didn’t talk about my sexuality much after that. There was so much I was working through at the time that it wasn’t the most pressing issue on everyone’s mind but it did shift my family’s idea of what my future might include. Losing the expectation of a future where their oldest son had a wife and grandkids for them to meet and love took my Mom and Dad some getting used to. What really shifted my family from acknowledging my gayness to accepting and appreciating it happened a few years later when they were invited to my gay uncles’ wedding. They freakin’ loved it. For weeks after the ceremony my parents told me story after story about the character and vibrance of the guests and how all of my uncles’ friends are both brilliant and entertaining. So, Mahalo gay weddings for making gay acceptance easier.
Life Update: I did become a published marine biologist and have discovered new species despite failing AP Biology.
So one of the first people I told I was gay was my favorite female cousin. I come from a very close knit, also known as nosy, Italian Catholic family Telling one family member was telling ALL my family members. I had come out to my parents a few days earlier and they hadn’t reacted well so I wanted to tell people I care about before the family gossip took over. I was in college so I invited my cousin to dinner. We went to her favorite, Ruby Tuesday. We sat down and almost immediately I just blurted out “I’m gay….”. And then I waited. She just continued to peruse the menu for a moment and then said, “That’s cool. I love you. Wanna share a brownie with me?” It was so perfect and normal and non-dramatic that I immediately started to laugh/cry. So of course we split the brownie and nothing between us changed. It was magical and I can never express how much it meant to me to be accepted so easily by her.
Arielle Scarcella – @ArielleScarcella
My first ever pride is still my favorite memory. It was the first time I was around so many people like myself.I distinctly remember walking around with friends after the parade and seeing a gay boy couple kissing sweetly. One turned his head to see who was passing them and looked at me–the only way I can explain the look was that it said “you’re the same as me” and I felt SO unbelievably comfortable in that space for the rest of the night.
I remember in 8th grade when I was kind of forced out of the closet. I was given an ultimatum: tell my mom, worship leader and pastors kid, that I like boys and girls or let someone else tell her. I made the phone call right then in the bathroom after 4th period. It’s been tough and I wish I could have done it a different way but I don’t regret my choice to take control of my own life. My mom and I still have a lot of growing to do but I wouldn’t be here today if she didn’t continue to push me in life rather she supported my life choices or disagreed with them. Bisexuality was hard for her to grasp especially when she didn’t understand why I didn’t just “choose” a girl to make life “easier”. I choose love with whomever it is.
One of my most memorable stories had to be how I came out to my mom. Being from a conservative state, you never know how your family will react. I came out to one of my sisters the week prior and it went very well! She had told me that she always wanted to ask but didn’t want make me feel bad if I wasn’t! Luckily for her, I was gay and had made the comment to her that I’d wished she would have asked me as we all know how hard it is to say the words “I’m gay.” Well, a few days went by and I had received a phone call from my mom while I was driving. She started the conversation very normal with “How’s your day going..” etc. and then she said “I talked to your sister and she told me you are gay..” My heart started to race and I could feel the anxiety over come me as well as being worried I’d crash into the vehicle in front of me! Haha! But the next words that she said were everything I needed to hear.. “I just wanna let you know that I still love you and wanted to remove any weight or stress off your shoulders.” I was so relieved and just happy that my mom was so accepting of this huge part of me!
Cheyenne Parker – @TheCheyenneParker
Coming out for me was something I honestly never expected… I was raised Christian and for a time being really thought there was something wrong with me… my impure thoughts of other men was something I refused to accept, as me actually being gay. I always thought it was just the devil inside of me – well through high school. That coupled with the fact that I sustained heterosexual relationships throughout that time made me extremely confused. I was severely bullied from elementary school into high school and was hospitalized on more than one occasion from severe abuse by other kids in middle school. This added an element of fear that I would possibly die if I came out as gay. It wasn’t until I graduated high school and a guy that was hiding the same secrets behind the same veils as me that I fell in love. It was only a matter of months before my overwhelming new found FEELINGS beyond just the “evil” sexual desires thwarted me towards my truth. After this I came out to my older sister who at the time was the closest thing to a parent I had. She too was concerned for my safety but wanted me to do what made me happy and vowed to always protect me. After this I knew exactly who to call to get the word out to the rest of my peers and she got it out fast! I called the most exuberant and outspoken girl in our graduating class and the word spread like wildfire. I felt so free and ready to experience life without fear after this. I moved to Los Angeles and immersed myself in gay culture and found friends to replace the ones who fell off because of my decision. life has had its trials and tribulations and still does to this day, but coming out and truly accepting me for me, being proud of my gayness…it’s the greatest thing that I’ve ever done. I can only hope the youth my generation and those to follow will have the strength and courage to never let anyone suppress who they really are and can spread their pride and love everywhere they go!
When I came out to my best friend in college who I also went on a few dates with, we were at a conference for work and she jumped into my arms in happiness, which caused me to dump my food and drink into a mans lap. However, we were both so happy that neither of us even realized it.
Justin Matthews – @_Justintime01
Accepting I was gay was a very long journey. I’d gone away to college and was really struggling with it, and started coping with some substance/eating disorder habits which got worse and worse the more I tried to avoid confronting being gay. One year I had a bad car accident on and wound up in a coma and then on a vent for 2 months. Everything kinda spiraled out after that, since I’d lost school and my jaw was wired shut for several months after the accident, my problems got worse and worse. Eventually I was somewhat forced into treatment by my family, I checked in as a 5’11” man who weighed under 70 pounds. That was where I spent my 19th birthday. When I was in treatment, I had a very special male nurse (who I’m assuming was gay) who sat me down and essentially called me out on that I was hiding a part of myself and would never get better if I couldn’t learn to accept who I was and love that part of myself. And that if I didn’t take that step I’d wind up back in treatment, or dead. That conversation changed my life. It took me a while to come out to my family afterwards, and once I did my family was more accepting than I ever would have dreamed. I wish I had given them more credit and been able to come out sooner, because they above and beyond showed that they really do love me no matter what. I’m so proud to be a gay man and proud of the hurtles that it took to love that part of myself, because that makes me appreciate my life that much more. I love being gay so much, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Patrick Crough – @PatrickCrough
I think we all will need to be a bit more outward this election year – especially throughout the month of June and November. Since we aren’t getting a parade or a specific event, we need to push visibility and action in other ways, day-to-day leading up to and following the election. Definitely fly the flag and wear the rainbow, but also have important conversations about LGBT+ issues, equality for POC, equality across classes, and important political convos that need to be happening so we ensure a better government for our country. This year it’s more important than ever that we are involved and take action. And then we will have something to truly celebrate in 2021!
Diving into the ocean of my subconscious to retrieve memories of really specific coming out stories doesn’t yield many pearls. Cause honestly there wasn’t too many instances of a sudden pent-up release of “I’M GAYYY!” It was more along the lines of a casual “hot dad at 9 o’clock” or spending an entire summer day making an age-inappropriate music video to Milkshake in my country backyard in Indiana, while the neighborhood kids rode around on dirt bikes with toy guns. I was a bit ahead of my time I guess. I knew of a few other LGBTQ people at my high school, but I was the only one out out. It wasn’t that I wasn’t afraid. I was. It wasn’t that I didn’t get bullied, cause lawwwd did I. I just didn’t know how to be anyone else. And looking back that was a really incredible gift to give myself, even though I went through hell. A lot of us did, and I know a lot of us still are. So in lieu of real story here I will just say, the greatest gift you can give yourself is freedom. Let go of what the world thinks and just follow what sets you free. Not just with your sexuality, but with every single quirky, embarrassing, unconventional, exceptional, extraordinary lil thing about you <3
A funny coming out story for me was in my first year at University. There were a bunch of us out at Denny’s after a house party and we were all talking about our university experiences and anyone cute we knew. I was still fully closeted, so all my stories involved “girls” As the night narrowed down, it was just me and my one girl friend. We kept talking about the people we had dated and slept with and I had to come clean and confess that all my stories weren’t entirely true. I told her that all of my stories happened with guys instead of girls. She laughed and told me that she had made up her stories too. We had a good laugh over strawberry pancakes and we are still best friends today.
Greggory Marcus – @GreggoryMarcus
My coming out story is pretty simple but memorable to the point that I couldn’t stop laughing. My mom pulls me into the living room to have what I knew to be a serious conversation. She hinted around maybe knowing something was different about me but it was obvious that she didn’t know how to ask.. She mentioned things like, “only girls call the house for you”.. I remember my response being, “well aren’t they suppose to? If only guys called here for me, you could imply the same thing.” What I didn’t know was, my grandmother (the sweetest woman in the world, and my biggest supporter) was listening the entire time from a different room. After an hour of getting nowhere, my grandmother busts out the back room and says… “OH GREGGORY PLEASE!! WE ALREADY KNOW.. JUST TELL US!” … I replied, “well if you already know, why are we having this convo?” Their reaction was priceless.. I love those women.
I was almost 21 and our farm/ranch was hosting a big 100 year old party/bbq/dance for the two neighboring counties. Sounds like a good time right? And it was a great time until the days the followed after. A rumor had started that I came out to all my family that had been home for the celebration. This was not true. I wasn’t ready to come out, but I had too many people asking about it not to. That summer my life changed forever. It was a huge weight lifted but at the same time scary to think what the small town community would say or think. And guess what? Almost none of them gave a damn. So no, I didn’t get to choose my time to come out like I would have liked, but everything happens for a reason.
Joe Stephenson-Simmons -@Jh.Squared
I grew up in a conservative Mormon family, and I tried for years to ignore or change my sexuality. I went to Mexico for two years as a Mormon missionary, and came home and almost got engaged to a girl I was dating. Even after I broke off that relationship with her, it still took a few more years for me to finally accept myself as I was. As I began to come out to my Mormon family and friends, I was amazed at how loving and accepting they were. I joke that I had to come out to my parents three times before it finally took (it was still a process for them), but they’re wonderfully loving and accepting of my husband and me. When I was young, I would have given anything to change my sexuality; now I couldn’t imagine my life any other way!
When I came out to my family, my life got so much gayer. I was broken-hearted over some boy crush and just wanted to talk to my mom. I mustered up the courage to tell her but begged her to please not tell my 3 brothers. I didn’t know if I was ready. About an hour later, I get a call from my oldest brother. “Jeff- mom told me you came out and I just wanted to say: the grass is greener on the other side. I’m gay too, its gonna be okay.” I couldn’t believe it. My brother and I had contentious years growing up and I figured he was mocking me! I hung up. My mom calls me back, “we couldn’t believe it either, he told us a few months back but wasn’t ready to tell you guys.” It was a crazy day from not knowing how my family would react to finding out I wasn’t even the only gay in the family! Mad he stole my thunder, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
In 2006, before I found the term transgender, I thought I was the only person in the entire world who felt the way I did – trapped. I saw myself as a girl, but everyone around me saw a boy. During career day in middle school a mom came in to show her advertisements in different magazines to the class. I got a People Mag and inside was the story of a female-to-male transgender teen. The moment I read the term transgender and the quote, “trapped in the wrong body,” I knew – I am transgender, I am trapped in the wrong body. I was 13 years old. I took the article home and read it over and over for about two weeks. One night I finally worked up the courage to show my mom the article. I asked her, “Is this girl covering up for being a lesbian, or is this trans thing real?” My mom, knowing where this was headed, responded, “This is real.” I took the article back to my room and read it again and again. A few nights later I was taking a bath, starring up at the ceiling knowing I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. I got out of the bath and made my way downstairs. I stood at the bottom step and told my mom I wanted to be a girl. She asked if I was sure and I said, “Yes.” I spent the next few hours on her lap crying, hugging her, and telling her about the fantasy world I had created in my head for years, a world where I was a girl. I asked her if I could start high school as a girl but because there was such little information back then she wasn’t sure how. Eventually, I would transition at age 16 in high school, and go on to become the World’s first openly transgender Prom Queen, with the love and unconditional support of my friends and family.
Miles Maximini – @MilesMaximini
In all seriousness, I think we all wish we could have some sweet, cinematic, romcom story like “Love, Simon”…but that’s just not reality. The reality of coming out, and mine, was filled with a lot of pain, physical and emotional, lies, deceit, mistakes, and change. I still can’t remember if I came out by choice or if I was finally caught. I always knew I was gay. Both my parents cried but for different reasons. I was 14, in 2005, and my mom (and biggest supporter) was worried about how difficult things would be for me. She had always known but the final confirmation seemed to change things, the dangerous world that lie ahead. My father, who was a fan of the word “fag”, sat me down for what I’m sure he thought was a heart wrenching tale of disappointment at not have a hetero son. I was an Honor student, class president, and nationally ranked swimmer…but still not good enough. (We have not spoken for several years at present.) The rest of my nuclear and extended family…I’m not sure if they knew what to do. It wasn’t a topic of conversation or concern.
At school, in public, at parties, at practice, a few people stuck by and stuck up for me but most remained silent when I was insulted, accosted, and threatened…just for who I was. People I thought cared about me turned a blind eye or literally turned their back as insults were hurled my way…it was heartbreaking…and eye opening. It was painful. I was alone. But it made me strong. Stronger than I thought I could be and for what life had ahead.
Live your life. Live your truth. Don’t be afraid to be who you are because life is far too short. Too short to keep dead weight (i.e. people) around. In high school, I had my first experience with a guy and it wasn’t anything suspicious because we were best friends…he was also straight. Let’s call him Jack. My other best friend, Nathan, was mad that I kept cancelling on him to hang out with Jack, as I was mad that he kept cancelling plans with me to hang out with another guy! One night, I was on the phone with Nathan and we were fighting about us mutually ditching each other and I just blurted out, “OK I HAVE BEEN HOOKING UP WITH JACK FOR THE LAST FEW MONTHS AND I’M DEALING WITH THAT!” There was a silence and my stomach dropped. Despite feeling that sensation of nausea, because I had never told anyone that before, I also felt a big relief. There was a pause and Nathan said “So, wait…you’re gay?” I responded with “Yea, I think so” in which he responded with “ME TOO!!” We immediately started laughing about the fact we were both going through the same thing and it has stuck with me to this day that people that love and understand you will be there for you no matter what.
Can’t believe it has been 5 years since I “came out”. Feels like I’ve been out longer, but I guess that’s because I didn’t really start living my life, my real life, until I came out. I was a very stubborn, angry, and frustrated young adult in the closet. I ended my passion for dance and went to college for engineering, the “smart” and practical thing to do after high school. I was determined to live a “normal” life. A life where I would get a good job; a job that could sustain myself since I would be alone and in the closet my entire life. Or at least that was my plan. That all changed the day I got hit by a car while biking home from class one day sophomore year. I was mostly okay getting only a minor concussion, some bruises and cuts, and so I wasn’t really taking the accident seriously. Luckily my mom forced me to think about how lucky I truly was to only have minor injuries, where I could have ended up in the hospital or even dead. It sounds a bit cliche, but that made me realize life is too damn short and can be taken away from you at any instant. This was my wake up call. Shortly after the accident and the talk with my mom, I came out to everyone. Then, later that year, I switched my major, graduated early, and moved to LA to pursue my dream of being a professional dancer. 2 years later I landed my first big break as one of the “Pitcrew Dancers” on Rupaul’s new Drag Race Live Vegas show. I am out, proud, living my dream and couldn’t be happier.
One day I was running on the treadmill at the gym and the girl who outted me approached me. She decided to tell my 3 best friends that I was gay before I was able to do so. As upset as I was that she took that important opportunity away from me, I used it as a chance to educate her on how problematic her actions were. Handling being outted in College made me in to the man I am today which I am proud of but everyone deserves to tell their own story in their own time.
Michael Cruickshank – @Brisketandham
I don’t really have a coming out story in a way that’s similar to everyone, however when I was young like around 10 or so, I would sneak to play with my sister’s dolls.
Growing up, it’s kind of forced upon most kids that certain toys are for boys only and girls only. Deviating from that, as a kid, I just thought I was breaking the rules.
One time my mom caught me and she had, what I thought was, a disapproving look.
I was terrified, and both my parents asked to talk to me. They asked if I was playing with my sister’s dolls, and at first I made an excuse that I was just arranging my sister’s toys.
They assured me that its okay if I was, so I admitted to it. I thought I was tricked and I’m in trouble.
Then my dad said: “your mom and I don’t care if you play with dolls or toy trucks, we don’t care what you want to do when you grow up, but all we want is for you and your sister to be happy” and they both gave me a hug.
That stuck to me ever since, even though I didn’t really fully understood it back then, looking back my parents knew I was gay. The more I understood myself the more those words made sense.
Coming out was a process for me like most people. I hid it for so long but realized this was who I was and that I needed to start living my life for me. I was terrified, like everyone, to say it to myself, let alone others. In all honesty, I only had a few rough conversations and I’m very grateful for that. The one that always has always stood out to me was shortly after I started coming out, my straight best guy friend from my fraternity and I were hanging out post-college and heading out to the bars. I knew that I wanted to tell him in person versus a call or text and this was one of the few times I would have the chance. We headed out and I knew before we got inside I needed to just say it. I looked over at him with what I can only expect fear on my face and he looked back at me and I said, “Do we need to talk about it?” and he replied, “Nope! Let’s go take a shot.” and we hugged and walked inside. It was the easiest, happiest, relieving experience in my whole journey. I had built it all up and he already knew and I knew he knew, but the fear of not being accepted kept me from trying. I’d only wished we’d had the non-conversation earlier! 🙂
Justin Miller – @JustJustinNYC
Even though I didn’t officially come out until a year after graduating college I had a lot of friends who definitely knew what I was doing behind closed doors. I can still remember when I finally came out to two of my best girl friends. They definitely knew I was already hooking up with guys it was still nerve wracking to actually say the words. After brunch one Sunday we were walking through a local park in Lancaster, PA where I grew up and I asked them to sit down on this random bench so we could talk. They sat there giddy and waiting while I awkwardly fumbled through getting the words out. They were so excited for me to finally tell them that I was gay which was a huge relief but also one of the best gifts we could give each other as friends. To feel their love and acceptance was so amazing and definitely gave me confidence going into other harder conversations with family in the future. Whenever we are by that park we still talk about that bench where I came out to them over 10 years ago.
So, I was actually outed my freshman year of high school. I grew up in Reeds Spring, MO, right next door to Branson, MO. I had been cast in the HS musical, The Fantastiks, and my character had to sit in a box for the first part of the musical with my friend Tommy. Tommy was gay, and the more I talked to him during our time in that box, I realized very quickly that I was also gay. But, I wasn’t attracted to Tommy. I was attracted to a senior that was also in the musical.When I decided one night to open up to Tommy about my sexuality, Tommy decided at the same time to express his feelings towards me. When he realized the feelings weren’t mutual, he decided to tell people at school out of spite. And within a week, the whole school knew.My favorite part was coming out to my Mom. I decided to tell her after musical practice after my drama teacher hyped me up. I got in the car, told my mom I needed to tell her something important, and she says, “Oh shit… what did you do” and puts the car in park.“Mom, I love you so much, but I’m gay…”A moment of silence and she BUSTS OUT LAUGHING.“Oh honey, I knew that,” she says and puts the car in drive. I love my mom so much.I’m not mad about it today. I’m actually thankful that Tommy had outed me, cause who knows how long it would’ve taken me on my own. But there’s always that underlying question of, “When would I had been ready?”
Gabi – For me I was struggling with coming out for so long, by the time i actually did come out to people it felt like something I could not get off of my chest fast enough! I was so nervous to tell my dad, I had come out to so many of my friends already, by the time I did actually come out to him I literally blurted out how gay I was at a Panera bread! This lead to a really memorable Panera experience haha, but i’m so happy that I did come out that day, my dad had a lot of questions, but he accepted me and it just lead to us having an even closer relationship! The one side effect is now I always have flashbacks at that Panera!Shanna – One memorable coming out story for me was telling my brother. Or shall I say, I didn’t tell him, he found out via me putting photos of me & Gabi on my Snapchat stories lol. He texted me and asked “By the way, do Mom & Dad know about your girlfriend haha” and I was like “OMGGGGG he found out!” I thought my brother was not going to like that fact that I was gay because my entire family is politically conservative, but he didn’t mind at all! It was just always funny to me that he found out via Snapchat haha.
I was out to my brother before I could even come out to my family. But instead of foolishly believing what he heard, he made sure to talk to me and bluntly asked if I was gay. I said yes, and he didn’t judge me nor made me feel bad about myself. Now that I think about it, this is quite remarkable because he was the epitome of your typical Mexican-macho guy – who bullied me for being too “delicate” growing up. However, his compassionate attitude at that moment gave me the strength to come out to my parents a few years later.
Joe Spaceman – @SixFootFiveGuy
In 2008 we were on a family vacation (like aunts, uncles, my cousin’s future wife, grandparents that whole thing) in Jamaica (which weirdly my mother had won at a wildlife preservation fundraiser dinner), I had put off coming out to my parents every time I had been home for the holidays but I didn’t as I didn’t want to “ruin” Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter/Arbor Day/National Ice Cream Day. Apparently, I decided that coming out on vacation in a not so gay friendly country on the beach while everyone except my mom and dad we’re in the water was a great idea.
Good news, I got the “oh we know response” AND then we ate ice cream out of coconuts.
Let’s ignore that the next day we got stuck in a hurricane.
Michael & Zach Zakar – @ZakarTwins
I, Zach, always thought coming out would be a lonely journey, a journey in which I would explore alone. Fortunately for me, it was a shared journey after I found out my twin brother was also gay! Our coming out was… a hot f*cking mess. I, Michael, was exploring my sexuality privately. I wasn’t out to anyone & I had no clue my own brother, Zach, was gay. I was merely worried about myself. I felt as if I was the black sheep of the family, so it was a secret I would take to the grave. Long story short, in high school some kid offered me a blowjob because he just “knew.”Obviously I said, yes. We met up in a bathroom stall during 4th period. In the middle of my blowjob, two kids caught us. Being that I was a twin, they assumed I was Zach and immediately the rumor around school was that Zach was gay. He was home sick, so I knew I had to tell him before someone else did.When I told him,“Everyone at school is saying you were getting a blowjob from Shane.”Before I could continue, he said,“Oh I thought no one caught us.”And I was like,“What…?!”Turns out he got a blowjob from the same kid (and didn’t get caught) and like a slutty episode of Sister, Sister, we came out to each other!
Levi Seefeldt – @Levi_Seefeldt
For me, I think my most memorable coming out story was the first coming out story. I grew up in a fairly conservative town of less than 1,000 people, so I knew that coming out to anyone in or around my hometown would bring me unwanted attention as I was literally the only out, queer person I could think of that ever lived there, so I had no roadmap of how the LGBTQ+ community was treated there. There was one day my senior year of high school that I was driving home and just couldn’t bear being the only person to know about my sexuality anymore. I called up one of my friends who lived 200 miles away and before she was even able to say hello I just shouted out “I need you to know that I’m bi!” Her response was a simple “Thank you for telling me, and I love you. You are still the same Levi I’ve known for years.” After a few moments of heavy silence, I just started sobbing because it was in that moment that I knew there were people out there who wouldn’t hate me for my identity and that I had the strength to tell others about who I was without the fear of losing everything in my life. So thanks for that, Lana. ️
Markus Carpenter – @MarkusEdward_
Growing up religious made it incredibly hard for me to come to terms with being a homosexual. Mostly everyone close to me already knew I was gay before I came out. The hardest person to come out to was myself because of my faith. If I did come out, would I still go to heaven to be with the rest of my family that has moved on? Would my Nana, who was a strict catholic, still love me? Would I still be able to be a member of my church that I felt a great sense of community through? Even with all of those hard questions unanswered, there was no denying or stopping it. I had some serious self-confidence issues and a lot of them had stemmed from me not being able to be myself. Once I finally admitted it to myself I was free, strong, and happy. My youth group pushed me out and my relationship with god ended, but I was finally able to live without doubt and fear. I was 15 years old and trapped in a prison that I created for myself. And for what? To be a part of a community that tells me I have to change in order to keep coming? EFF that! Freeing myself from that prison was the best thing I have ever done and it’s the action that I’m the most proud of. I’ve found a new community too. A better, larger, gayer one and IT’S SOO EFFING FABULOUS!
James Kimball – @Mount_and_Tackle
I think we all have had very different coming out stories. For me growing up in a small town in Maine being openly gay was not an option. I spent most of my time growing up thinking about what I wanted in life, being pressured to go to college, start a family, buy a house. Things changed once I went to college, I had this freedom I never had before. Being myself was ok! I fell for a guy the summer after freshman year, we had a great summer with family and friends but he was always just my friend……we all know what that means. It wasn’t till I was 20 when I met my parents for lunch one afternoon. We chatted for a while, but on our way back to my car I told them that my “guy friend” they met a few summers ago was more than a friend. We all went silent until my mom said “I know.” Then my dad said while crying that no matter what they love me and are happy I told them. But he also made it clear that I am the only one to pass on the family name so I better still have kids. This was a huge weight off my shoulders. I am happy I came out to everyone now. Yes, I have lost some of my friends but I have also gained new and better ones along the way.
Ricky Donovannn – @RickyDonovannn
When I was 16 years old I got into a car accident and I nearly died. As I laid in that hospital bed I was so shook by the thought that nobody would have known who I really was if I wouldn’t have made it out of that car accident. When my mom took me home I remember sitting on my bed sobbing because I finally had a conversation with myself out loud about the fact that I was gay. It felt like I was coming out to myself for the first time in my life. After a couple of days my mom took me back home, I lived with my oldest brother, and on that drive I sat in the back seat working up the courage to tell him I was gay. It was really hard for me because he was the father figure in my life and his opinion of me was the most important. His response was “hmm cool” which felt so empowering because all the fears I had were completely invalidated and I felt like I had just defeated my inner saboteur. I almost felt like a natural high from that situation so I immediately told my mom that I was gay and she asked, “how do you know?” to which I replied, “how do you know you like guys?” Her response was “Hmm well when you put it that way it makes sense. I will always love you. The natural “high” from coming out felt so amazing after telling the people I cared about the most and feeling the acceptance and unconditional love so I decided to come out to everyone at school. I chose to do it in the safest place I knew in the school which was my chemistry class with Mrs Bowers. Earlier that year Mrs. Bowers, at Caldwell High School, spoke about having a gay son who was in college that she was very proud of. So the day I went back to school I stood on my desk in her classroom and shouted “I’m gay” and everyone immediately started clapping.
One summer day during college in Washington, DC my best friend walked me to the Lincoln Memorial to hand me a letter telling me he was gay. 10 seconds later I shocked him by saying for the first time “oh cool, me too.” Later that summer, my mom helped me take my last step out of the closet when asking me why I had so many gay friends. My parents insisted on celebrating that night and it’s been the most rewarding, exciting journey ever since.
Cameron Oleske – @CameronInTheCity
I came out first to my closest friend and roommate in college. I was in a relationship with a girl for near 3 years but developed feelings for my best friend, a guy. After I left the girlfriend I told my best friend and although he didn’t feel the same way about me we stayed friends. Things were rough for a while and we didn’t talk much but we got through it. I then began telling more people. After college I moved to NYC and I attended NYC pride for the first time. When I got home from the parade I felt so much joy and love from the people I was with that I had the courage to tell my conservative parents in Louisiana. I called my mom over Skype and we talked. I told her about my day. I ended it with telling her about why I broke up with my girlfriend and why I was so stressed my last few months of college. I told her all about the guy I liked. She just said ok and she understood. She didn’t ask questions or anything. Fast forward a year later I brought my first boyfriend home and my parents were so kind and so accepting towards him. My dad referred to him as “another son”. That was 5 years ago now. I’ll be getting married to that same guy in just a few weeks. My parents were supposed to attend our wedding but cant now due to coronavirus. We are having a small ceremony with a few friends and will have a celebration later where my parents and grandparents as well as brothers will attend. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a supporting family, especially in Louisiana.
Steven Buitrago – @Polania1991
My mom actually was the person who made me come out as a gay person. Knowing that our only communication during 14 years was only on the phone. But It was super simple. She called me one day and asked me; Steven, Are you gay? I had the option to hang the phone and never talk to her again knowing we do not grow up together. Or to be true to my self and tell her the true. So I told her that I was and right away she open her heart to me and offered to help me. Since then she’s became my best friend and someone I look up to. I was 15 when this happened. Next year I will be 30 and she asked me this year to go wedding dress shopping with her for her wedding next year. I’m so happy to have a mom who supports me in every aspect.
I remember coming home from seeing Oliver at The Majestic Theatre. I told my mother I think I’m bi. Till that point I honestly hadn’t hit that point of puberty where we discover attraction towards another human. I do however remember dancing in Cats my freshmen year of high school, and finding the boys in their unitards somewhat gravitating. That and the underwear section of Macys… Anyway, my mother is a fierce, beautiful role model. When I made up my mind senior year, and told her I was gay her exact words were, “Well at least some bitch won’t take you away from me.” To the ladies in my life, you are 100% that bitch, and I respect the hell out of each of you. But knowing my mom accepted me for who I am in her own way has always been something I am incredibly grateful for. the water was a great idea.
For me I think my most memorable coming out story was when I told my best friend, Derek, who I met when I was a freshman in college. I started coming out to people when I was 14, but when I went to college, I sort of snuck back into the closet a little bit. As freshman year ended, I came out to some of my closest girl friends, hoping they would be safer to tell than my guy friends. I wanted to tell Derek before we went back to school sophomore year though. He came over one day with my friend Chelsea who came for emotional support. He sat on my couch in my bedroom while I sat on my bed with Chelsea, and I couldn’t find the words. Finally Chelsea yells, “JESUS! HE’S GAY!” to speed things along a bit. I was terrified of his reaction. Deep down, I wished he was gay too, and I hoped he would come out to me in return, but I was also afraid I would lose him as a friend. He didn’t do either. Instead he just sat there for a second until I heard, “That’s it?” I was half relieved the he was okay with it, and half disappointed he wasn’t gay too. The disappointment stuck – I was so sure he was gay too. I felt a lot better about it the following October though when he finally came out to me too! I remember being so happy and so mad – “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME WHEN I TOLD YOU??” He’s been my best friend the last 10 years and we always recap our coming out to each other in October on National Coming Out Day.
That last weekend, my sister had just gotten married and I was the best man to her very southern (and I mean this in the most polite way) redneck of a husband. While they were away on their honeymoon, it bursted out of me like you wouldn’t believe. I kept waiting to do it after the wedding as to not take any attention from their special day. I couldn’t even wait for them to get home that next weekend to say it out right. During the week they were away, I told my best girlfriend from college that “I’m a homo” as I slapped my ass. We walked over to the photo booth and that was that. I later told my mom and forced her to tell my dad. As soon as my sister came home I told them too and I’ve never felt so free. My older cousin had come yet the year prior and kind of paved that road for me. I saw how accepting everybody was of it and almost felt foolish having waited until I was 23 years old to come out. I didn’t believe the phrase when I was younger and in the closet, but it truly got better
Coming out for me wasn’t the hard part – internally acknowledging and accepting it was. Growing up, I pretty much lived the stereotypical straight boy life – played sports all through high school, joined a frat in college, etc. For this reason, I don’t think I ever took the time to discover myself (even though my underlying suspicions and attractions were always present). By my senior year of college, I finally realized I wasn’t happy living my life as I currently was; reason being, I was trying to hold on to the life I was trained to know as my own. Finally, one day my mother texted me asking if I was dating any nice girls lately (a question she asked all too often) and I simply replied “nope, c’mon you know I don’t like girls mom”. There was no need for a larger discussion in my opinion. From that day on, I’ve been happier than ever living my true gay self with nothing but love and acceptance from everyone I care about.
I remember my first time officially coming out to someone I knew. It was my friend Branden. Branden and I met in Law School and became quick friends. Branden was also gay, and so I knew he would get what I was going through. The summer after my first year of law school I met a boy and we started to meet up every weekend. He lived in Greensboro, 1hr away from where I lived at home with my family in NC. My parents did not know I was leaving to see a boy every weekend. I kept making up stories of going to the beach or seeing old college friends. This boy was my first boyfriend, and it was a very special time. However, the constant lying to my parents of my whereabouts started to take a toll on me. Guilt and self-loathing started to set in. I remember calling my friend Branden in tears and asking him to forgive me for lying to him, and that I was sorry not telling him that I was gay earlier. I remember asking how could anyone be strong enough to tell their parents. With much love, he talked me through everything. Through my friend and his guidance, I was able to sum up the courage to come out to others and my parents. Having a good friend during that time is so important!
Coming out for me was a string of coming out stories over a period of 2 months! It is not a cookie cutter situation where you just redo the same “I’m gay” conversation with every important person in your life! My mom was different then my dad, my dad different then my friends, and my friends different then my coworkers. All had meaningful things I wanted to say to each. I told my Mom at her favorite Italian restaurant and sat next to my father and asked him to talk while watching our favorite TV show Both nerve wrecking with lots of tears shed. But I know the most memorable was sharing THE news (because it was opening myself up to the world) on Instagram January 1st. This post was a picture of me smiling and the caption eventually saying that “I’m GAY!”. Being in Puerto Vallarta at the time certainly helped being surrounded by LGBTQ friends, but it was so meaning/memorable receiving the love via messages from back home in Nebraska and from afar. Some of the straightest, most sacred friends I knew were the first ones to say “I LOVE YOU!” What a memory.
Thomas Caswell – @TomCas25
For me there wasn’t just one thing I had to take time to come out to accept myself, there was two. It was even harder for me to accept myself because I am autistic. I didn’t always accept my disability because I felt like it was holding me back because of the social challenges and stigma I had to go through over the years. Self-advocacy is what got me to accept that I am autistic, that it was a gift that was given to me and it’s just a part of who I am. I didn’t always love my body, my tummy hasn’t been flat for as long as I can remember and seeing the other boys with abs made me jealous. I came out as a gay man at 23 after years of questioning and had phenomenal acceptance. You think coming out is hard, it’s even harder when you have a disability because of the assumption that we’re all straight and/or not sexual beings but that’s a clear myth and this is proof. I knew I was born to help others feel comfortable being in their own skin despite whatever disabilities we may have. I’ve grown to love every inch of my body the way it is. Those that haven’t gone out on a date, hooked up, or played with a person with a disability. We’re hot, we’re sexy. Give it shot, you’ll have a blast.
When I was asked the question, “What’s a memorable coming out story?,” nothing really came to mind. I think all of my family knew I was gay before I even knew what “gay” meant. When I did finally “come out,” I was in ninth grade, and it was one of the greatest feelings ever. I finally came into my own and developed a new level of confidence. All the rumors and whispers going around finally stopped, because I finally stood up for myself and told the world who I was. The coolest part was how much happier I was and how much more social I became. The support I received from my family, friends, and even my teachers was unreal. I felt more love than before. Before I came out, I felt alone and lost. I don’t know why I was so scared, but when I finally came out I didn’t regret it for a second.
Rock Evans – @RockEvans_
In high school, I had my first experience with a guy and it wasn’t anything suspicious because we were best friends…he was also straight. Let’s call him Jack. My other best friend, Nathan, was mad that I kept cancelling on him to hang out with Jack, as I was mad that he kept cancelling plans with me to hang out with another guy! One night, I was on the phone with Nathan and we were fighting about us mutually ditching each other and I just blurted out, “OK I HAVE BEEN HOOKING UP WITH JACK FOR THE LAST FEW MONTHS AND I’M DEALING WITH THAT!” There was a silence and my stomach dropped. Despite feeling that sensation of nausea, because I had never told anyone that before, I also felt a big relief. There was a pause and Nathan said “So, wait…you’re gay?” I responded with “Yea, I think so” in which he responded with “ME TOO!!” We immediately started laughing about the fact we were both going through the same thing and it has stuck with me to this day that people that love and understand you will be there for you no matter what.
I grew up Mormon. I even served a Mormon mission. I always knew that I was gay though- I just thought it was something I should hide. After I had been home for several months from that mission, I finally decided I needed to check out a gay bar to see what it was like. I called someone I knew who was gay and said “let’s go.” First time I stepped foot in a gay bar, I ended up going home with someone. A week later, I had a meeting with my local church bishop. He asked me how things were going, and I just flat out told him that I shouldn’t be teaching a particular Sunday school class because I had recently lost my virginity and I didn’t feel “worthy.” He asked me who the girl was, and I responded, “That’s the thing bishop. Her name was Jason.” And his jaw dropped. I felt liberated. He ended up forwarding my ‘issue’ up the authoritative ladder, and I ended up in a church ‘disciplinary court.’ The church was all I had ever known, and they told me they expected me to go to conversion therapy in order to stay in the church. I told them no, and that I had lived a lie my entire life, and I wouldn’t do it any longer. So they excommunicated me. (I ended up in conversion therapy anyway out of respect for my parents and living in their home. Obviously it didn’t work.) The point is, that I was so afraid of embracing who I was. And once I finally made the decision that I needed to embrace who I am, I’ve never looked back. Twenty-one year old me couldn’t have imagined how much happier I’d be after embracing and learning to love myself.