Autostraddle March Madness — Best Coming Out: Final Four

“What makes a good coming out story?”

That’s the question that’s hung over this entire contest since we began and it’s one that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. Personally I’ve always been a fan of emotional coming out stories like Bianca’s tearful confession to her mother on All My Children… not because I saw my own experience reflected — my parents’ response to me coming out was the rhetorical equivalent of a shrug — but because it offered an external representation of everything that I’d been grappling with internally.

With the addition of the CLASSICS category, I’ve been wondering about how our expectations of what makes for a good coming out have changed. When I was one of the 42 million people watching Ellen‘s puppy episode, I couldn’t have imagined a world with Elena Alvarez’s coming out story — which spans the entire first season of One Day at a Time — was even possible. Is the future of coming out stories on television extended story arcs like Denise on Master of None or, as we come out to a more accepting society, are we going to see more subtle coming out stories like Kate Littlejohn on For the People or the titular character on Abby’s? What’s the future of coming out on Spanish-language television after Juliantina has made such an indelible mark? What do you think?

Or do you not care at all and just want to see which coming out stories have earned a spot in our Final Four? Okay, okay…

Remember: you’ve got 48 hours to summon all the fandom to Autostraddle to select the two competitors for the Best Coming Out story. Feel free to revisit my earlier write-ups — Classics, Baby Gays, GROWN and International — and the video links (where available), if you need some help making up your mind.

We’ll be back next week to announce the competitors in the National Championship!

In the CLASSICS region, the battle between the #1 and #2 seeds lived up to every expectation; I watched this week as the lead volleyed back and forth between Ellen and Santana. The GLEE songstress has had an impressive run in the tournament but ultimately met her match. Ellen Morgan managed to fend off two L Word alums in Carmen and Lara and then bested Santana Lopez in the regional finals. It’s interesting to think about Ellen Degeneres: last year, she retook the stand-up stage in a comedy special called Relatable, which, in some ways only emphasized how un-relatable she’d become. But here we have the groundbreaking “puppy episode,” which audiences still find so relatable.

Ellen will take her #1 seed into the Final 4 and into a match-up with Alex Danvers of Supergirl who, miraculously, beat out Wynonna Earp‘s Waverly in the regional finals of the GROWN region. I thought for sure that the #FightForWynonna fandom would carry their favorite to victory — after all, they’d managed to survive challenges from three fan favorites: Kat Edison, Rosa Diaz and Petra Solano — but no such luck. Perhaps I should’ve anticipated Alex advancing to the Finals. After all, one thing I’ve learned about March Madness is that its hard to sustain a fandom over multiple instances of voting: the better scene usually does win out in the end. The same fate befell Wynonna Earp in last year’s contest.

#1. Ellen Morgan – Ellen vs. #4. Alex Danvers – Supergirl

While I may have seen the International regional finals match-up between Valentina Carvajal and Juliana Valdés on Amar a Muerte coming, I freely admit, I had absolutely no idea which of the girls would win. On the one hand, you had this great coming out scene with Valentina coming out on national television, thwarting efforts by others to out her and asserting that she has nothing to feel ashamed of; while, on the other, you had Juliana standing up to her own mother — putting her body between Valentina and physical danger — and affirming her love. How do you even choose between those? Somehow y’all did, though, giving a narrow victory to Juliana, who moves onto the Final Four.

To advance to the Finals, Juliana will need to upset the most formidable competitor in the field: the Baby Gays regional champion, Elena Alvarez. After dispatching Willow Rosenberg in the Sweet 16, it seemed like a given that Elena Alvarez would be the last of the baby gays standing but even I didn’t anticipate that she’d do it so handily. Nia Nal’s success in the early rounds had me convinced that television’s first trans superhero would give Elena her first real test, but it was not to be… Elena won easily and now has to be the prohibitive favorite to win it all.

#4. Juliana Valdés – Amar a Muerte vs. #1. Elena Alvarez – One Day at a Time

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A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 401 articles for us.


  1. Having these four categories has been super-fascinating but now they are finally pitted against each other! I had to go with Ellen even though I suspect Alex will prevail, and I voted for Juliana because the intense emotions of her love story with Valentina hit me HARD, just through subtitled clips on YouTube. Thanks for all these tough yet lovely choices :).

  2. In honor of trying to HEAVILY influence the vote for Alex Danvers, I submit her two lesser coming outs.
    Coming out to her friends…

    And coming out to her mom.

  3. I predicted two rounds ago that the final matchup would be Ellen vs. Elena so I guess we’ll see!

    I think there are a lot of ways to define “best” coming out, but for me personally, that honour should be reserved for the episode that broke the mold and threw open the closet doors for everyone else, the character who took the first unequivocal brave step into the void and changed the landscape of queer television forever.

  4. You have read this comment a hundred times already during this competition but ahhhh it’s so hard to choose.

  5. I think there’s a difference between “best” and “most important”. Ellen wins the latter hands down – her coming out on her show paved the way for every queer that came after her, including everyone else in this competition.

    But that doesn’t make it the “best”. For me, that honour belongs to Alex Danvers and Supergirl. For me, no other coming out was more relatable, more personal, more perfect. Alex Danvers coming out on Supergirl, despite it being a show about aliens and superheroes, was a scene I’ve experienced, my friends have experienced. The pause she makes when talking to Kara, the immediate backtracking after kissing Maggie, the set in her shoulders as she braces herself to tell her mom – I’ve been there. I could have written those scenes, or lived those scenes.

    • I couldn’t agree more! I was overwhelmed by how resonant Alex’s coming out story felt. Ellen’s was iconic, but my vote goes to Danvers.

  6. I’ve been reading Autostraddle for a while, and recently been eagerly anticipating each new round of this contest, but this is my first time commenting and it’s to share my vote for Alex Danvers.

    I still find myself teary thinking about how her coming out process was portrayed and resonated. How in the bar scene where she’s first trying to come out to Maggie, Alex struggles to find the words, and her entire face shows her uncertainty, how everything she thought she understood about herself was now coming into question. How even a few episodes later when she takes a walk with Kara she’s still struggling to find words. How each of those early times – with Maggie, with Kara, Alex is ready to just drop it entirely and forget it. It was so well acted, and it has vividly stuck with me.

    Perhaps what also made it so powerful was seeing the responses of those Alex’s coming out to. Maggie’s quiet nods, soft smiles and barely leading questions to try to put Alex at ease, her strong declaration of “it’s real, you’re real, and you deserve to live a real and happy life” along with Kara fiercely holding her sister. I just remember being entirely bowled over by it all, and still being affected.

  7. Pues Juliana salio inesperadamente al ser descubierta por su madre besándose con Valentina.tuvo en ese momento que enfrentar y defender el amor que ella siente ante una madre que le cuestiona “qué hice mal?”.ella le responde que no es su culpa,que es la primera vez que se enamora de un ser humano y ese ser humano es una mujer y ni modo,que ama a Valentina…muchas chicas se sintiero identificadas.porque el amor es así,no sabes de que ser te puedes enamorar. Seas joven o adulto puedes amar a alguien de tu mismo sexo, aún antes de haber sido hetero… pero Juliana nisiquiera sabía si era gay o no.fue un descubrimiento en ella al enamorarse de una amiga que llego en el tirmpo perfecto para ser su apoyo incondicional… viva JULIANTINA.

  8. It’s probably no surprise that I’m voting for Alex given my username. Without Alex I’d likely still not have come out. Her coming out meant so much to me and was done so amazingly well that it gave me the courage to finally tell other people what I’d only just managed to accept about myself.

  9. I voted for Ellen and Elena– Ellen’s for its effect on the world, and Elena’s for its effect on me. When you take away the cheesy laugh track and the soundstage, Elena’s coming out story is the most realistic I’ve seen. Her parents’ reactions are nuanced and complicated and not always woke. Penelope puts on an accepting front, even though she is secretly a little upset that her child won’t have the life she expected. What’s-his-name-the-dad-who-was-never-there-for-his-children-anyway is much less accepting, but he comes around in 2 seasons (I feel like it should’ve taken him longer than that, but maybe the writers knew they were going to get cancelled and wanted a resolution). These two coming out stories show how far we’ve come, and how far we’ve yet to go.

  10. I voted for Ellen and Elena too: Ellen for being the originator who paved the way, and Elena because she was ground-breaking in her own way and she’s the kind of girl I’d have been completely in love with 35 years ago, and in my over-half-a-century on this planet I’ve never seen a tv character like her ( or the other Alvarez’ for that matter)

  11. First we all thought Juliana’s mother would be accepting when Juliana came out. She was a good person and she loved her daughte very much. in previous episodse we saw how she was concerned for her daughter and knew there was something Juliana was hiding.
    so when Lupita caught Juliana and Valentina kissing and reacts very badly and don’t accept her relationship with Valentina we were all surprise. it was an emotional scene. Juliana standing up and defending her love for Valentina was great to see too.

  12. Count me as another Ellen/ Elena voter!! Can’t wait to see who makes it to the final round!

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