Locals share their coming out stories for National Coming Out Day.
The first National Coming Out Day was in 1988, celebrating the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Advocates Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary first proposed the idea of National Coming Out Day. It was their belief that illustrating to most people that they already knew and respected someone in the LGBTQ+ community helped push the human rights movement forward.
The experience of coming out is personal and unique to each individual. We asked a handful people to share their experiences of coming out — the good and the bad — and why this day is important. Here are their stories.
‘It wasn’t my choice, but I’m glad it happened’
My coming out story happened when I was a teenager. I was scared to come out because I didn’t know how my parents would take it. We can kind of say my coming out wasn’t really planned, it hurt and it wasn’t my choice but I’m glad it happened. I’m 24 years old and ever since the day I came out, I made it my duty to be fully out and proud about it. I am very blessed to have never dealt with any rejection from my loved ones due to the fact that I’m a lesbian, and even though it was hard for my parents to accept, my mom has always defended me and my family has always loved me the way that I am. Coming from a religious household made me have the whole “Catholic guilt” mentality and I tried “praying the gay away” thing, which I find pretty funny, considering the fact that I’m a lesbian atheist that practices witchcraft now. My friends are all gay so everyone was very supportive (yet not surprised, the closet was made out of glass) and I’ve been very blessed! I started college and I became the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, I started working with my community to build a better future for LGBTQ+ individuals and I’ve met many wonderful people throughout the years. I hope to inspire many young members of the LGBTQ+ community to live life loud and proud, and if you can’t do that just now, know that there is a community out there that will love and accept you for who you are, even in moments where you can only be yourself behind closed doors. Happy coming out day from your local they/them lesbian!
— Claudia, Fort Walton Beach