BY KAYLEE DUFF
In honor of both October being LGBT History Month and National Coming Out Day on October 11, I decided to share my personal coming out story. If there’s really one thing I believe — it’s in the power of stories.
I am a writer. That’s been a part of my identity since before I knew what identity even meant. I’ve been telling stories since before I knew who I even was. Because of that, it’s a little bit odd that I’ve never written down my coming out story. At the time, it didn’t really seem like a huge deal to anyone but me.
But now I know the power of coming out stories. I have experienced firsthand the transformative effect of listening to others in the LGBTQ+ community talk about their experiences with coming out. I have learned how some people have to come out again and again; how some stories end well and others end sadly and even more seem to never end at all. (I also think it’s important to remember that not everyone is able to or wants to come out. We need to learn to respect that.)
When we share our stories, it inspires other people to come forward and live their truth. It helps soften the blow of reality. And it gives us hope — even the stories that seem inconsequential or boring are limitlessly special. These coming out stories are real and are happening to real people all over the world every single day.
So here goes nothing: My Coming Out Story™. I came out as a lesbian by introducing my first girlfriend (who is now my current fiancée!) to my parents in the middle of my college’s Student Union. My parents were coming up to visit for a football game. (I was in my college’s marching band, which is also where I met Emily, my girlfriend.) I texted my parents and told them to meet us by some chairs in the Union, where we would eat lunch. I waited anxiously, dressed in my battle gear (tan leather jacket and thrift-store combat boots).
They got there and I like, screamed, “Mom and Dad, this is Emily and she’s my girlfriend and we’re dating.” And then I started sobbing. Of course, my family had already met Emily, at a previous football game. My mom just smiled and hugged me while I cried, and my dad said, “Okay,” because he’s a gruff manly-man who can’t show emotion and that’s his way of saying “I love you.” After that, I started coming out to my close friends and family.
My favorite response was from my youngest sister. When I told her I had a girlfriend, she said, “Great. Now you won’t die alone.” (She’s amazing.)
I’m one of the lucky ones. My family and friends are, for the most part, very supportive of me. I’m loved. I have a close-knit group of queer friends that understand what I went (and am still going) through. And even though I have to keep coming out to people who assume I have a boyfriend — sorry I don’t “look” gay enough for you, world — I’m incredibly thankful I get to be the exact person I want to be.
People say it all the time, but it’s always worth repeating: The children are our future. My coming out story, your coming out story and all the historical, funny, depressing and joyful stories are inspiring the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders to come out. So here’s to the past, the present and the future. Maybe one day, “coming out” won’t have to be a whole Thing. But until then, I’ll keep sharing my story with anyone who will listen.
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