You might think that the best way to come out is to sit down with your loved ones and simply tell them that you are gay or bisexual or trans or queer or pansexual or whatever it is that you are, and you’re probably right about that. However, there are other creative and unique ways our people have found over the years to break the good news to their families, friends, classmates, co-workers, neighbors, doctors, anesthesiologists, adoring public or anyone else. What better day to discuss those ideas than today, National Coming Out Day?
I’ve been hearing and reading your coming out stories for 14 years, and trends have emerged w/r/t ways to come out. For example, many of you have come out to your friends or family while in a moving vehicle. Another popular method is “writing a message on social media,” which is effective and efficient.
We could stop there, but then this post would be very short. So instead, join me as we think beyond the box — or beyond the car, as the case may be.
1. Come Out Via Power Point Presentation
In 2021, we published a compelling and popular piece entitled “I Came Out To My Parents Using a Slide Show, and So Can You!” In the piece, writer Amelia noted that when it came time to mark the occasion of her solidified lesbianism with her parents, she wanted something that felt really authentic to her personality and to the communication styles she had established with her family. She employed music, ambitious graphic design, and a whimsical narrative that delighted not just her family, but also all of us who read the article. I think about this at least once a week.
2. Star in an Ad Campaign For Subaru
3. Let Your Mom Come Out For You
When you think about Kristen Stewart coming out, perhaps you think of the issue of Nylon that I still possess in which she spoke openly of her then-relationship with a woman, or perhaps you think about her saying “I’m like, so gay, dude,” on Saturday Night Live. But I think about when Kristen Stewart’s Mom Jules allegedly went ahead and told The Daily Mirror that she was a huge fan of Kristen’s relationship with her then-girlfriend Alicia Cargile, insisting that “people need to be free to love whoever they want,” which, for Kristen Stewart according to her Mom, meant “loving women and men.” Jules also told The Mirror that Kristen Stewart loves wolves and was raised by them.
4. Share Your Netflix Account With Your Parents
Back in her youth, former Autostraddle writer Nina was shocked to learn that the list of Netflix DVDs she’d been ordering to her home (e.g., L Word marathons, If These Walls Could Talk 2) was in fact accessible to her entire family. “It wasn’t long before my family smelled a rainbow colored rat,” she recalled, “and that rat was pointing its glow sticks at me.”
5. Curate an Entire Comedy Show and Make a Gay Joke About Yourself In It
In 2014, our now-Managing Editor Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya decided to come out to her peers in a basement comedy show in Ann Arbor, where she was attending college. “Standup is a performance, but you’re playing yourself,” she wrote of this choice at the time. “And if you’re a good comedian, you’re playing the realest, most honest version of yourself. For me, the thought of one-on-one conversations with people about my sexuality was much scarier.” That performance was the first time she’d said the words “I’m gay” out loud. She recalls, “I had successfully turned my sexuality into a punchline, which is another way of saying I’d successfully turned it into the most genuine form of expression I knew.”
6. Wear a Gay Shirt
“Who’s All Gay Here?” your shirt will ask. “Me!” you will say! Easy.
7. Attend a Gay Event
Perhaps you’re struggling to admit that you are gay, but how do you feel about admitting you are going on an Olivia Cruise and then letting your family connect the dots on their own? Unfortunately Pride is probably no longer gay enough to qualify as a gay event, I’m sorry. (Once I asked my former boarding school roommate if she wanted to meet up at Pride in the Village because I lived there that summer, and she was gay and had short hair so I figured she’d be going to Pride, and then I spent the whole day hoping she’d ask me how I felt about my own sexuality but unfortunately she was having some drama with her girlfriend and I was really awkward around so many new people (lesbian people with haircuts!!!!!!) and then we were all stoned on the roof and I was hungry and nobody wanted to ask me about my sexuality 😔)
8. Do an Interpretive Dance
In 2022, Jenna Malone announced her pansexuality via one of our people’s most beloved forms of performing arts: an interpretive dance. As Heather described it at the time, “in between promo for her new film, Adopting Audrey, Malone did some stretching, spins, whirs, and jiggles (and other official dance verbs) to honor her evolving understanding of her sexuality.” Unfortunately this dance and its accompanying caption has been pulled from Instagram but I think if you follow your heart, you too can dance about your sexuality.
9. Write an Entire Book
This is definitely a cumbersome method of coming out, as it takes some time, but it’s a good way to come out and also maybe make a few hundred bucks. Alternately you can hook up with Elliot Page and wait for him to write about it in his book.
10a. Post About Your Relationship on Instagram Like It’s NBD
This a beloved and popular move by celebrities, but it works for real people too! You can simply just start posting with your girlfriend or otherwise-identified activity partner like it is the most casual thing in the world. Alternately, you can use a hashtag like #IWasLookingAtHERAndFoundMyJOY (-Rutina Wesley) with a picture of you kissing your girlfriend or a caption like “2 years ago, I got to marry my best friend in front of our close family and friends” (-Candace Parker) accompanying photos of you marrying your best friend two years ago in front of your close family and friends.
10b. Post About Being Gay on Instagram Like It’s NBD
11. Go Through a Really Terrible Gay Breakup and Come Out Under Duress
Usually I’ve found the best time for me to reveal something emotionally intimate to anyone, including honestly a therapist, is when I am so profoundly distraught, depressed and despondent that my need for emotional comfort overcomes my fear of vulnerability. Also, it’s difficult for people to be mean to you when you are already so sad!
12. Publish an Article In Your School Newspaper Called “Suffocation: The Secret Life of a Gay Teenager”
If you have a school paper you can publish an anonymous article in it about being a wee lesbian, and then when everybody is buzzing about the essay, that’s when you can start coming out, and it will be really funny.
13. Get an Alternative Lifestyle Haircut
Haircuts have been doing the work for our community for generations.
14. Get a Gay Job
One thing about having a gay job is that you have to come out to everybody who asks you about your job. Usually I circumvent this opportunity by saying I work for a “women’s media company,” which is like, not the whole story or true, but I don’t want be perceived in general, let alone talk about my sexuality with a stranger who is just making conversation. That said, lately every time I admit to a straight cis person that I work for an LGBTQ+ media company, they immediately want to ask me how I feel about trans women playing sports and while I’m hesitant to discuss my own self with a stranger, I am more than happy to share my correct opinions with them on the topic of trans inclusion in sports! So I try to see it as an opportunity.
Also, for the record, being in The L Word counts as a gay job.
15. Try This Special Method
Write “I’m Gay” on a tiny piece of paper, and then stick it into a bottle, and put the bottle in the ocean. It’s called “message in a bottle.” Then when it washes ashore, someone on the beach will pick it up and they’ll know all about it! You can’t control who will pick up your bottle message. It might not be your grandfather, but it might be someone really cute. Other than that issue, this is a foolproof plan with a 100% success rate. You’re welcome!!!!