The phrase “coming out” is commonly used to describe the process LGBTQ+ people go through when they tell their family, friends, and sometimes the world at large about their sexuality. Coming out is an incredibly important event for any person who identifies as queer, which includes identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, trans*, nonbinary, genderfluid, and many other gender and sexuality presentations.
Queer folks experience all the feels when thinking about coming out and deciding how they will come out. For some, the idea of coming out provokes a lot of anxiety because they’re worried or even scared of how the closest to them will react. Unfortunately, prejudice against queer individuals is still a reality that many people face and this makes coming out really nerve wracking. Some struggle with who to tell and how to tell them for months or even years before they decide to come out. Some hide themselves for a long time before they get the courage to tell people who they really are.
Claiming their identity in front of the people they love and declaring themselves as queer is a monumental event. It could change the course of their lives. So, many people who identify as queer spend a lot of time and energy planning how they’ll come out to the different people in their lives.
The Internet is full of amazing, hilarious, and heartwarming stories about how people came out to their families and friends. Here are some of the best coming out stories the Internet has to offer.
12 Sometimes we just can’t keep it quiet
Some people’s coming out stories aren’t so well planned. In fact, sometimes it’s a total accident. Something slips out that they didn’t mean to say and suddenly, everyone knows or can figure it out. In this case, the person just couldn’t keep their mouth shut when faced with close minded relatives.
This person was at a family gathering with their extended family and Grandma was running her mouth, probably not for the first time. Unfortunately, many queer people have those older relatives who just can’t accept that being queer is normal. We’ve all had to listen to their rants about how being queer is so sinful/gross/improper etc. and sometimes it’s just too much to handle and we shoot our mouths off too.
When this person lost their temper, and shot off their mouth they just happened to hint that they were gay. It’s not exactly the ideal way for their family to find out, but if the revelation made Grandma shut up, then it was probably worth it.
11 Other times, the people we love beat us to the punch
For many queer people, coming out to their parents causes the most anxiety. Even if we don’t get along with our parents, we never stop wanting their approval and we always want to know that they still love us. For some queer people, getting rejected by their parents for being gay is an all too real fear. For others, they’re pretty sure that the reaction will be positive, but they’re still concerned that their parents will react poorly. Many queer folks agonize over how they’ll come out to their parents and obsess every worse case scenario.
But this guy’s dad took the pressure off him, by letting him know that he already knew and that everything was just fine. Apparently, Dad overheard this on the phone talking about how scared he was to come out, so he wrote him a letter to let him know he didn’t have to go through the trouble. This dad’s supportive reaction is perfection. If only all gay teens had dads this cool.
10 Sometimes we just take advantage of the perfect setup
Some folks think about coming out for a long time and just wait for the right time to slip it in to conversation. What better time to tell your mom you’re a lesbian than when you’re watching Ellen DeGeneres, America’s favorite lesbian. This girl didn’t make some elaborate gesture or plan exactly the right words. She just managed to brilliantly shift an existing conversation to the fact that she’s a lesbian.
The best thing about this exchange is how casual it was, and her mother’s response was just as casual. Sometimes coming out is a really big deal for everyone involved and sometimes it’s just incorporating new information in to our existing paradigms. This girl dropped the info, her mom took a minute to accept it and then they just moved on with their lives. Exactly as it should be, since being queer is no big deal.
9 Other times, we’re extra AF
Some people plan super elaborate events for their coming out announcement. They’re nervous, but excited to share this part of their lives with the people they love. This is usually the case for queer people who are pretty sure that the ones they love are going to react positively.
This girl knew that her family was probably going to take the news well, so she decided to have a good time coming out. She planned an extra AF announcement and even had entrance music. She baked a cake for her family that announced she was bisexual and carried it in to them while the song “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross was blasting in the background. I particularly love the song choice in this amazing announcement.
It’s not always possible to make coming out a fun and funny event, but when it is possible, it’s epic.
8 Sometimes, it’s out of our control
We all want to come out on our own terms. Being outed in another way really sucks, especially when the circumstances are totally out of our control. I want to take a minute here to say that it’s never okay to out someone without their permission and before the person has had a chance to tell people on their terms.
Unfortunately for some, their loved ones discover their identity before they’re ready to come out on their own. One Buzzfeed user shared that his parents found out he was gay when they searched his Internet browser history. They saw the sites he was viewing and put it together on their own. He hadn’t intended to tell his family until he was ready to move out. They didn’t talk about it for years and his sexuality was the elephant in the room.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending. When he had his heart broken, he sought comfort from his family and with this more official coming out, they grew comfortable. Now this family marches in Pride parades with him. For some coming out stories, the road to a happy ending is long.
7 And sometimes it doesn’t go as planned, at all
Apparently baked goods are a really popular way to come out. The idea is that the sweet treat will soften the blow, or at least give the people receiving the news something to chew on while they contemplate an answer. So, a lot of people make cakes or cupcakes and use icing to literally spell out their announcement.
But one Buzzfeed user shared an important cautionary tale from her own hilariously unfortunate experience. She decided to bake cupcakes for her coming out, but after she’d already begun she found out that she didn’t have the right ingredients for the cupcakes. She forged on, substituting with things she did have. Then she found out she didn’t have the right ingredients for the icing, and it was too late to go to the store. Again, she improvised, but the icing didn’t turn out very good and her announcement cupcakes were hard to read.
When she presented the cupcakes to her family they took the news very well, but they found out that the cupcakes tasted awful. Moral of the story? If you’re planning to come out via baked goods, always hit the grocery store first.
6 Often, we get a better response than we’d ever hoped for
Many queer people worry that the revelation that they’re queer will change their relationships with those they’re closest to. They worry that their friends of family will see them differently or that they’ll be pushed away. This is especially true for young gay boys who are coming out to their male friends.
Unfortunately, being gay is seen as being at odds with masculinity. Many boys are taught that gay boys are less “manly” and should be ridiculed for not fitting the norm. Many are taught to be threatened by homosexuality. Some are taught to be downright disgusted by homosexuality.
This creates a lot of anxiety for boys who want to come out to their friends. But friends who really love us will always love us, no matter who we love. This text message exchange is a perfect example of a boy who’s willing to reject toxic masculinity and reinforce his love and support for his bro. We should all raise our boys to be as understanding and compassionate as this awesome bro.
5 Some people leverage the tools at their disposal
Some queer folks prefer to come out to everyone in their lives in person. Others have a discussion with those closest to them, but leverage social media accounts to make the announcement more public. In the digital age, we all have way more touchpoints with people. If we want to come out to everyone without having to send dozens of texts, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are the easiest way to get the news out there.
This girl decided to leverage Facebook for her public coming out in a particularly clever way. Instead of just posting “Oh hey, I’m gay,” she crafted a well worded status that served as the setup and then dropped the punchline in the comments.
Her status update was particularly clever because she leveraged a typically derogatory use of the word gay and made it her own by making it a pivotal part of her coming out story. She truly nailed shaping her own narrative.
4 Sometimes we find out that everyone already knew
For some people, coming out turns out to be really anti-climactic. They spend all this time worrying about telling people, planning the perfect time, getting up the courage to say it out loud, and when they finally make the announcement everyone present is like, “Duh.” It’s relieving to know that it’s not a big deal, but it’s annoying that so much energy was spent on something that wasn’t a big deal.
Our families often know us better than they think they do. Parents, siblings, and extended family watch our lives very closely, and no matter how much we try to keep something to ourselves, we just can’t hide from those we love.
More often than you’d think, like in this case, a family member’s sexuality is the subject of friendly bets between family members. This guy’s mom apparently backed the wrong horse. Luckily, she wasn’t upset about the revelation, she was just annoyed she was out $20.
3 And sometimes we get a total surprise
Often queer people worry that those they’re coming out to won’t understand their sexuality or their struggle. This is especially true when coming out to parents, grandparents, or really anybody from a different generation. Being gay was a completely different experience even a decade ago and for our parents’ or grandparents’ generation being queer was a hidden, fringe experience. We worry that they won’t be able to integrate their experience with being queer as a concept with the reality of us being queer.
However, some of us are in for a major surprise when we come out and discover that the people we’re coming out to understand our experience more than we could’ve known. When this guy came out to his father, his father came out to him at the same time! Some older people have been hiding their true selves their whole lives and our bravery in coming out to them prompts them to reveal their true selves.
2 Sometimes we have the opportunity to come out in a truly unique way
A decade ago, it we wouldn’t have imagined that someone could get famous for posting videos about themselves on YouTube. But now, being an Internet Personality is a thing and these people share pretty much their entire lives on the Internet.
For these Internet personalities, coming out is a whole different game. They aren’t just telling their friends and families, they’re telling an entire fanbase that they’re queer. Some Internet personalities choose to do this with a simple video to their fans. Others record their conversations with their friends or families and post the video as their public coming out.
Some Internet personalities, like Joey Graceffa, take the super extra route. Graceffa has been video blogging for years and his self-produced videos are super popular. He decided to come out to his fans with a music video.
He wrote an original song and shot a music video where he was a prince, saving another prince instead of a princess. The video is touching and super moving, especially since it turns the fairy tale narrative on its head by making it about two princes. Check out the video here. He followed up the music video with a short video to his fans confirming that the video was his own unique coming out.
1 And sometimes, coming out is an opportunity to show that we all have similar core experiences
Another set of Internet personalities took a completely different route with their coming out video. The Rhodes Bros, twins Austin and Aaron, already had quite a following on YouTube even before their emotional coming out video went viral.
Both twins had known they were gay for some time and had already come out to their mother, but they knew they couldn’t come out publicly until they told their dad. Their parents split when then twins were young and they weren’t very close with their father. They didn’t know how he would react and they were extremely nervous about telling him.
For their public coming out video, they decided to record a video of them calling their father to come out. Luckily, their father was very supportive. Though he was clearly uncomfortable with the conversation, more out of surprise than anything else, he makes sure to reinforce that he loves them and supports them no matter what.
The video is extremely raw. The boys choke on their words and openly cry as they share their truth with their father. Their authenticity is inspiring and shows that no matter what our lives look like, we share the same core experiences.
We all come out in different ways, but the experience of coming out is something every queer person experiences at some point. Sharing our experiences of how we came out is important because it shows people who are trying to figure out how to come out that they’re not alone. Our coming out stories show queer people, especially queer youth, that they can survive coming out no matter how other people react.
Sources: Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Pink News, Tumblr