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From telling your family and friends about your sexuality to simply correcting a stranger about your gender identity, coming out comes in many forms. Each person's experience is different and impacted by the multiple identities and privileges they hold.

Today is National Coming Out Day! We’ve created a resource to highlight key things folks may want to consider before coming out. That said, remember, coming out is merely sharing your identity with folks you care aboutIf you don’t want to come out or if it’s not safe, that’s totally fine. There is not a Queer Rulebook that says that you have to come out in order to be considered a valid member of the LGBTQ community.  Your queer identity isn’t tied to publicly proclaiming it. The Earth was spherical before we started saying it was and you are queer before you tell people you are queer.  

In honor of National Coming Out Day, members of GLSEN’s National Student Council shared some of their coming out stories, showing how some of our key considerations can play out in real life.

1. Sayer

Picture of student smiling

“Coming out does not just happen once”

I officially came out on National Coming Out Day (cliché, I know) via a very run of the mill “I’m gay and that’s that” Facebook post.

Coming out via social media took a lot of stress off me, because it meant that I didn’t have to come out to each individual family member and friend. I could just knock it all out at once.  

But I meet new people. I walk down the street holding my girlfriend’s hand. Coming out via social media doesn’t meant I won’t continue needing to come out.

2. Marcus

Picture of student 

“You may have an entirely separate process for 'coming out' or sharing about your gender identity”

Sexuality-wise, I told my mom in a sushi restaurant after she kept asking me whether I even liked guys. I reluctantly said I prefer girls, and she took it pretty well.

Gender-wise, I told my mom in steps. First, I said I was kind of uncomfortable being called a girl. Then, I told her to call me Marcus, and then I fully came out. It did not go as well at first, and she said a lot of transphobic things to me. It hurt a lot, but later she came back and told me she was just trying to figure out what she thought about it and that she would accept me for me.

 3. Nate

Picture of student

“You may have an entirely separate process for 'coming out' or sharing about your gender identity”

I came out to my sisters after family breakfast when we were loading the dishwasher. My second oldest sister was like, “It’s okay, we don’t have to be the cheetah sisters anymore; we can be the cheetah siblings.”

Initially, I thought I was genderfluid, but I noticed every day was masculine day. Once I realized I wasn’t a girl (and after a couple of mental breakdowns), I told my parents I was “confused” about my gender and wanted to get a therapist, which they agreed to. My therapist was like, “Yeah, you’re a guy.” It took my parents a little while to come around completely, but they’re super supportive now.

At the same time, I actually came out as pansexual only to realize later on that I was entirely gay, just a guy attracted to other guys. It’s totally normal for your gender and sexuality label to change throughout the coming out process.

I made a Facebook post and came out to extended family and some friends, but my real public coming out was the start of freshman year. I told people my new name, and at first they thought I was joking. But then the teachers called me that.

My parents had to talk to my school’s administration because I live in a county where accommodations are decided on a “case by case” basis. I was told I had to use the women’s restroom or the staff restrooms, which I did until junior year. Now, because testosterone has helped me pass, I use the men’s restroom and haven’t had any issues. For my fellow trans people, it’s super important to figure out your school’s policy beforehand, so you don’t get in trouble.

Once I came out, I immediately joined my school’s GSA, and it was the best decision I’ve made. I met so many supportive LGBTQ folk, which alleviated the emotional stress of being transgender and gay in a conservative area. I also met other trans people who helped me with the logistics of coming out and being trans, like finding supportive therapists and medical care centers.

Nowadays, because I’ve been on testosterone for more than a year and my voice has dropped, I have to come out as trans or people just assume I’m cisgender. Coming out all the time is emotionally draining because I never know if people’s relationship with me will change because I’m trans. Support from my friends and family helps work through the emotional burden.

 4. Mari

Picture of student smiling and flexing with a rainbow triangle tattoo

“You get to decide if coming out is right for you at this time and to this person”

I came out to mi madre on National Coming Out Day in 2015. On a car ride to an auto parts shop, I remember turning off the radio and her turning it back on again. So what did I do? I turned the radio off again and sat my palms on top of my thighs. “So, today’s National Coming Out Day,” I said with a nervous laugh. She responded, “Oh, really? That’s nice.”

It was quiet, and I was beginning to regret ever turning the radio off. My chest was tight, and my muscles were all tense. I stared at her with a nervous and sly grin, until she turned to me.

“What? Are you trying to tell me that you’re gay?” I had an even bigger nervous smile on my face as I nodded my head. “Well, that’s okay. I already knew anyway.”

Getting home later that day, I decided to come out via Snapchat with notes that I had wrote in black sharpie on lined notebook paper. I remember writing down different parts on different pieces of paper.

 “So, today’s National Coming Out Day...” “and I know that this will bring more hardships and difficulties for me to face...” “but I’m tired of hiding…” “so...” “I’m gay” – with the widest smile on my young little gay face. “It feels so good to say that...”

For National Coming Out Day or whenever it feels right, see our coming out resource for LGBTQ youth.

Sayer Kirk, Marcus Breed, Nate Fulmer, Mari Contreras, and Andrew Guedea are members of GLSEN's National Student Council and contributed to this post.