Autostraddle March Madness — Best Coming Out: Grown

On Saturday, the Missouri State Lady Bears will take the floor in the program’s first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2001. It wasn’t an easy path: the #11 seed out of the Missouri Valley Conference had to pull upsets against #6 seed DePaul and #3 seed Iowa State (on the Cycles home floor, no less) in order to make it this far. Fivethirtyeight blog gave them just a 17% chance to beat DePaul and a 13% chance of advancing past Iowa State, but somehow they believed and they’ve got themselves in the Sweet 16. The great thing about March Madness — both the real one and the one we’ve crafted here — is that anyone can win. If folks are dedicated enough and believe enough, even the perennial underdogs can take home the championship. It’s a great lesson for us all.

As with yesterday, you have 48 hours to vote for your favorites in the Grown region. If you’ve seen the episodes, vote accordingly. If not, check out my descriptions or links to video of those scenes (where available)…who knows, you might find a whole new show to love. Also? Depending on when you’re seeing this, there’s still time to vote in the Baby Gays region.

Stay tuned tomorrow when we unveil our final region of this March Madness competition — the International bracket — and complete the first round of our tournament. We’ll be back on Monday with an updated bracket and a chance to see who’ll make it to the Sweet 16.

Remember: We’ll be back tomorrow (Thursday) to reveal the International region, our last in this year’s competition! 


#1. Denise – Master of None

Coming out isn’t a one-time transaction. It’s not something that you do and then — bam! — you’re officially cemented as a member of LGBT community, waiting by the mailbox for your copy of the gay agenda. It’s a process that begins the first time you notice an interest in other girls and it continues from there. It’s coming out to yourself, it’s coming out to your friends, it’s coming out to your parents and your extended family and on and on and on. I’m not sure that any episode of television has showcased that experience better than Master of None‘s “Thanksgiving” episode.

It takes Denise six years from the time she tells her best friend, Dev, that she’s “Lesbanese” at Thanksgiving for her to tell her mom she’s gay. In 1999, she can’t fathom telling her mother: what if her mother thinks being gay is a choice? What if her mother worries that she did something wrong. Six years later, Denise and her, mother, Catherine, are having breakfast on Thanksgiving morning when she takes a tentative step towards coming out — “I’m not gonna get pregnant because I don’t like having sex with men,” she tells her mother — and then goes ahead and pulls the whole band-aid off. With Denise’s admission that she’s gay, nothing changes…but also, everything changes.

“I just I don’t want life to be hard for you,” Catherine admits through her tears. “It is hard enough being a black woman in this world. Now you want to add something else to that?”

But Denise stands in her truth: “It’s not like this was my choice. It’s just who I am.”

#16. Sally – Sally4Ever

Here’s what Heather wrote about the coming out scene in Sally4Ever‘s second episode:

There was no toeing on this week’s Sally4Ever but there was still plenty of junk to make a person squirm! David and Sally have split up. Sally is officially with Emma. Sally’s not sure how to tell her hyper-religious parents either of those things, so Emma of course just goes right ahead and does it — and even though it stuns Sally’s mom, her response is nothing on David’s mom, who stumbles onto Emma and Sally going at it later that night and literally loses the ability to speak. There’s really no way to write about this show. You’ve just got to watch and see for yourself how long you can last.

And, just for the record, I thought Heather was overstating this but then I watched for the purposes of this contest and, as I should have anticipated: Heather was not wrong. YIPES.


#2. Erica Hahn – Grey’s Anatomy

Earlier this year, Grey’s Anatomy celebrated becoming the longest running American primetime medical drama series, having surpassed ER‘s run of 331 episodes. Erica Hahn was only part of 25 of those episodes before she made her trip out into the parking lot of no return (#stillmad) but she left an inedible mark on queer women everywhere when she came out. It’s been over ten years since the scene aired and still, it resonates like it just aired last week.

If you’re not like me and you don’t rerun this scene every few months just to remind yourself of what it means to truly be seen, let’s recall one of the greatest monologues in Grey’s Anatomy‘s history:

“When l was a kid, l would get these headaches and l went to the doctor and they said that l needed glasses. l didn’t understand that. lt didn’t make sense to me because l could see fine, and then l get the glasses and l put them on and l’m in the car on the way home, and, suddenly, l yell because the big green blobs l’d been staring at my whole life, they weren’t big green blobs! They were leaves on trees.”

Erica could finally see herself — truly see herself — just as she had when she put those glasses on for the first time. She’d never even known that there was part of herself that she hadn’t seen until she saw herself with Callie. She was gay, so, so so gay.

#15. Grace Hanson – Grace and Frankie

From Heather’s Season Five recap:

In the second episode of Grace and Frankie‘s fifth season, which landed on Netflix last Friday, Grace flat out asks Frankie if she wants to have sex with her. They’ve just tucked the miniature pigs they’re pet-sitting (long story) into their pin and settled down onto the makeshift mattresses they’re using to sleep on while they squat in their former beach house. Frankie, as usual, flirts with Grace and Grace finally calls her bluff. It makes Frankie topple over giggling, but Grace wants to know what’s so funny. She didn’t just appear in the world the second she and Robert appeared and Frankie and Sol’s life. Before she was a wife, she was Just Grace and Just Grace made out with girls.

Grace Hanson: confirmed bisexual!


#3. Waverly Earp – Wynonna Earp

There are a few scenes on Wynonna Earp that you could classify as “coming out scenes” so I consulted our resident #WayHaught expert, Valerie Anne. She recommended this scene — the same one that earned Wynonna Earp its “Best First Kiss” nomination last year — describing it as “the moment Waverly came out to herself and Nicole at the same time.”

Here’s how Heather captured the moment in her recap:

Lord knows I love a slow-burn, but I confess I love the part where everything combusts even more. Waverly and Haught finally got there last week on Wynonna Earp, and it. was. marvelous. After throwing up every wall she could think of between herself and Nicole, Waverly cracked and stormed into the sheriff’s office and shut all the blinds and crashed herself into Nicole so hard they stumbled back onto the couch and kept on kissing and panting like something out of a fan fiction. I mean. Y’all. They kissed for like a good two minutes. In between which Waverly confessed that she’s always wanted to skydive and swim with sharks and eat weird food, because she likes to be scared, but when the thing she’s scared of the most is the human lady right in front of her, it’s a little too real.

#14. Kat Edison – The Bold Type

In her recap of the episode where Kat comes out, Kayla captures the very thing that was most notable about it (hint: it was not the Katy Perry reference):

Fresh off her romantic, climactic kiss with Adena at the end of last episode, Kat immediately rushes to tell Jane and Sutton about how they “kissed for like hours,” prompting an extremely urgent meeting in the fashion closet, where all three squeal and dance. Jane and Sutton are almost as excited as Kat, and no one follows up with obtuse questions about how Kat identifies or what all this means. They’re happy for her, and she’s happy, too. Jane, Sutton, and Kat all support each other in many ways in both their work and personal lives, reinforcing the idea that friendship and co-working are not mutually exclusive relationship dynamics.


#4. Alex Danvers – Supergirl

From Valerie’s recap:

So Alex invites Kara to take a walk by the river, and Kara knows something’s up, but Alex is dancing around the words. Finally Alex decides to talk about Maggie instead. It’s easier that way. So she tells Kara that she has…feelings…for Maggie.

She can’t really look directly at her sister while she says it. And Kara isn’t exactly jumping up and down about it; in fact, she has questions. Has she always felt this way? Has she ever been with girls before? Alex says no she’s never been with a girl, but maybe she has always felt this way. And then she talks about the truest thing, something that every single queer person I have ever talked to has been able to relate to: She’s seeing certain things from her past in a new light. That best friend she had in high school who she pushed away after a few too many confusing sleepovers? The Pink Ranger trading card she used to kiss goodnight before bed every night? (Oh was that one just me?) Maybe these feelings have been there all along, she just never realized what they meant.

#13. Kate Littlejohn – For the People

The first time Anya Ooms tries to kiss her, Kate Littlejohn slides back, just out of Anya’s reach. Fearful that she’s pressured Kate into something — or worse, maybe, that she misread the dynamic between them — Anya apologizes…only to have Kate lean in and kiss her. That is quintessential Kate Littlejohn: always seeking to control of whatever situation she’s in. But the deeper she gets into this thing with Anya, the less control she seems to have…and that’s how she ends up outing herself to her colleagues, Leonard and Seth.

The Kate that’s with Anya stays in bed when her alarm goes off, she arrives on time for work (instead of early), she’s slightly less polished than normal and she lets things slip. It’s so unlike the Kate Littlejohn we’ve come to know, it’s impossible not to be charmed by it.


5. Mariah Copeland – The Young and the Restless

From my earliest recap of Mariah’s coming out story on Y&R…scenes which, in part, earned Camryn Grimes a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:

What follows is an amazing conversation between mother and daughter, one steeped in a history dating back to 1994. Sharon describes the electricity of falling of falling in love for the first time and Mariah recognizes everything her mother describes. The racing heart, the long conversations that are never, ever long enough, the regret of any day spent apart. Mariah feels all of that, she just doesn’t feel it for Devon. It is not a small thing for Y&R to cast Mariah’s love for Tessa in the same mold as one of the show’s great supercouples, Nick and Sharon. It’s a normalizing force for a conservative audience that might not view a same-sex story that way.

When Mariah confesses that fact to her mother, Sharon assures her that she’ll find that special someone one day. Mariah explains that she already has.

“Well, who is he?”

She.”

#12. Yolanda Rivas – G.L.O.W

There’s something beautifully simple about how Yolanda comes out to Ruth on GLOW. She offers to spice up their matches by wearing a string bikini but Ruth balks at the idea: Yolanda’s out of that life now, Ruth points out, there’s no need to go back. She’s not, Yolanda says, except once a week when her ex bartends; she likes to torture her by taking off her clothes.

“You like girls?” Ruth asks.

“I love girls,” Yolanda answers.

Here’s what Heather and Riese said about Yolanda in their conversation about the show last summer:

Heather: Let’s just jump right in with Yolanda because the show jumped right in with Yolanda. I love a good coming out story as much as any other lesbian of a certain age who never saw coming out stories when she was a child, but I appreciated that they just got Yolanda’s sexuality out of the way right away. She’s confident about it, honestly to the point of brashness, which I particularly liked because it makes sense in the context of this show in the ’80s in the sports world — which, outside of the WNBA and MLS, is still frankly homophobic as hell — for someone who’s out to overcompensate by being OUT.

Riese: I don’t know that I’d categorize this show as being part of the sports world, I think of it more as live theater? They do have storylines, and modern-day pro wrestling has some gay stuff although apparently it’s not done very well, necessarily. But otherwise I agree! I appreciated this too. It also made room for Arthie to have that arc instead — subtly, but authentically. I loved Yolanda’s unapologetic pride. It wasn’t what I expected and it was refreshing.


#6. Rosa Diaz – Brooklyn 99

From Rachel’s great recap of Rosa’s bi-centric coming out episode of Brooklyn 99:

There isn’t one conversation with her parents, like ripping off a bandaid; there are several, and even after all of them Rosa’s relationship with her parents as an out bisexual woman feels rocky and bittersweet in a way that’s very real. It’s clear they love her, but they still can’t readily accept her — and to the extent they do, it’s conditional upon an imagination of bisexuality as a version of heterosexuality. As her mother insists, “because no matter what you call yourself, you still like men. So you can still get married and have a child.” Rosa reminds them that she can do those things regardless of the gender of her partner, only to be told by her father, “Yes, but it will be a man, because this is just a phase.”

A minute later, we get to complete bisexual coming out bingo when he admits he thinks “there’s no such thing as being bisexual.” Rosa’s response is clear and simple and painful: “I know there is, because that’s who I am.” The entire scene is a more thorough exploration of the way that bisexual people’s acceptance by their loved ones so often depends upon our willingness to reassure them that we’re still “basically straight,” or that we can at least pretend to be. Later, when Rosa’s dad apologizes but explains that her mother “needs more time” and that maybe Rosa shouldn’t come by for family game night anymore, we see how Rosa’s refusal to cosign a straight-with-an-asterisk or going-through-a-phase narrative of her own erasure has at least for now cost her exactly what she was afraid it would. This is a coming out conversation that feels like it was intended to feel authentic from the inside out, not only to be legible or recognizable to straight viewers, something that still feels like an unexpected treat.

#11. Abbi Abrams – Broad City

From Riese’s recap:

Abbi’s been on her own journey all episode, catching up with an insufferable friend from art school and attempting to both cater and attend a MOMA opening in a scene reminiscent of her attempt to attend a date with Trey AND dinner with Ilana’s family a few seasons back. After meeting an artist she’s obsessed with, Abbi faints, which lands her in the hospital under the care of Professional Lesbian Cameo Artist Clea Duvall. There’s a spark that takes Abbi by surprise and eventually, as she later relays to Ilana, she realizes that the only reason she wasn’t asking Leslie out was ‘cause she was a woman, but why should that matter? And so she did, and so they’re going on a date, and then Ilana is both supportive and clearly struggling inside while making really fantastic facial expressions.


#7. Petra Solano – Jane the Virgin

Few things rocked 2018’s queer TV world like Petra Solano’s coming out as bisexual. Fans of Jane the Virgin had imagined Petra as bisexual for years (many of those same fans had dreams of Petra ending up with show’s titular character, Jane Villanueva). After four years on air, the writers decided to give the people what they want!

Petra’s Jane wasn’t the same one the audience had hand-picked however, oh no, it was Jane Ramos (JR for short), her hot attorney played with perfect bossy power femme energy by Rosario Dawson. The play on words between the two Janes’ names lead to one of the most delightfully awkward, funny, and heartfelt coming outs that we have in competition this year. Rafael, overhearing Petra practicing her “I love you’s” in the mirror about a lady named Jane, assumes that Petra loves the show’s Jane and not this new Jane! Petra quickly let it be known that she’d rather go to Chuck E. Cheese during flu season than hook up with her frenemy and sister-of-the-heart. The person who has her stomach in knots is JR. Rafael and Jane (our Jane) squeal and clap and it’s all filled with joy. Petra’s someone who generally holds her feelings deep within, behind an ice cold shield of perfectionism. With JR she finds her vulnerability. That kind of personal character growth is a high mark for any coming out story. — Carmen Phillips

#10. Sara Lance – Arrow/ Legends of Tomorrow

It’s a cold, cruel world…and it’s hard for me to understand, even after all these years, why anyone would object to consensual relationships that afford us a refuge from the callousness of the outside world.

When Sara Lance comes out to her father, the cruelty of the outside world has shown up at her doorstep. A member of the League of Assassins kidnapped her mother with the assistance of Sara’s ex, Nyssa al Ghul, who staved off a rescue attempt with a barrage of arrows. Nyssa calls Sara and gives her an ultimatum: rejoin the League or deal with the consequences. In a moment of quiet, Sara admits to her father that she once loved Nyssa and, despite the danger that her mother’s in, her father doesn’t begrudge her that refuge.

“Honestly, Sara, to think what you’ve been through these past six years? The pain, the loneliness… I’m just happy to hear you had someone that cared for you.”


#8. Kat Sandoval – Madam Secretary

I am certain I cannot describe Kat Sandoval’s coming out scene better than Carmen did in her recap of the episode:

What follows was a scene unlike any “coming out” scene I can remember. Kat takes a beat. Then she tells Jay that the Abkhazia case is personal for her, she’s bisexual. Any time a woman says the actual word bisexual on television, it’s already a massive big deal. In 2017, in all of English language television programming (combining the United States, the UK, Australia, and Canada) there were just 99 bisexual women characters. Of those 99, not all of them said the word. Bisexual erasure remains rampant. Using that same measure, in 2017 there were only 62 women of color lesbian, bisexual, or otherwise identified women characters. Kat Sandoval is defying expectations. She’s already in rarified air. This moment with Kat burns even brighter because she is a bisexual character being played by an out bisexual actress, Sara Ramirez, who has already portrayed the longest running queer character on network television, bisexual Dr. Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy.

Kat’s only getting started. She goes on to say that she’s also comfortable with “pansexual, or fluid, or non-monosexual” — but however you break it down, “Yeah, I’m queer.” That’s the when all the breath vacuumed out of my lungs.

#9. Kristina Corinthos-Davis – General Hospital

When Kristina Corinthos-Davis shows up at Parker Forsyth’s hotel door, she’s trying to convince herself that she’s over her former English professor. She’s moving on — she’s got a new job and a new boyfriend — she only wants to talk to Parker to get some closure over what happened between them. But Kristina slips back into her old feelings for Parker like a pair of well-worn shoes and the newly divorced Parker is powerless to resist the comfort…and the pair share their first night together…Kristina’s first time with another woman.

The next morning, the couple argues about what their night together means, and as Kristina’s about to storm off, they kiss in the hotel corridor. And who would be happening around the corner at exactly that moment? Kristina’s father, the town mob boss, Sonny Corinthos. Her father knows that Kristina was kicked out of Wesleyan for making advances on a professor but he didn’t know, until that very moment, that the professor was a woman.

After Parker leaves, he confronts his daughter about her affair and she comes out to him, in a tearful confession that earned Lexi Ainsworth a Daytime Emmy for Younger Actress in a Drama Series.


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. Spends her Thursday nights trying to make #Shonday happen.

Natalie has written 79 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. Up until today I have been a neutral voter for this year’s Autostraddle March Madness because, 1) I didn’t know many of the characters and 2) I am meh on most TV coming out stories.

    But this round broke me! Besides the Waverly-Kat match up. You put Rosa Diaz against Abbi Abrams and then crushed me with Petra Solano v Sara Lance…that’s just cruel.

  2. Petra or Sara? Petra or Sara? Petra or Sara? I’m sorry “Legends of Tomorrow”. You’re possibly my favorite show on right now, but I love bitchy Petra who’s soft for Jane. JETRA FOREVER!

  3. Finally matchups of people that I know. The Petra/Sara choice was flat out cruel. Like seriously…you couldn’t pit each of them against any of the soap opera women whose identities I know nothing about?

  4. All my faves are in this one! Waverly! Alex! Rosa! Petra! All of those coming-out stories are great. I think I’d give the edge to Alex and Petra because both of their stories spanned a bunch of episodes and were done so emotionally and so well (and in Petra’s case, had some amazing makeouts), but I wouldn’t be disappointed if any of these ladies won.

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