Autostraddle March Madness — Best Coming Out: Round 2

There’s a word that gets tossed around during March Madness every year: “chalk.” This shouldn’t be confused with “rock chalk” which is an entirely different thing.

If you’ll allow me a bit of sports nerdery: chalk’s usage dates backs to the illicit gambling halls of the last century. When it came time to wager on an upcoming horse race, a bookie (the guy in charge of the betting) would go and write the odds for each participant on the blackboard. Everytime a new bet came in, the bookie had to adjust the odds — to ensure they didn’t go broke — and was forced to update the board with the latest forecasts. The constant erasing resulted in a plume of chalk dust…and thus, “chalk” became part of the sports betting lexicon. Today, “chalk” refers to betting on the overall favorites: the top seeds who are often thought to have the best shot of winning.

I mention all this because through the first round of voting in our search for the Best Coming Out story, voters have gone mostly chalk. With a few notable (though not entirely unexpected) exceptions, the favorites advanced through Round One…which, of course, means the match-ups only get harder from here.

In the CLASSICS region, the three top seeds all advanced to the next round. I’ll try to forgive y’all for allowing my beloved Bianca Montgomery bow out in the first round…though, if she had to lose, losing to the soup chef isn’t a bad way to go out. Perhaps the most surprising outcome of this region came in the #8 vs. #9 match-up between Emily Fitch and Carmen de la Pica Morales. I thought for sure Skins would advance — her coming out scene with JJ is so hilarious — but the allure of Sarah Shahi is just too great (#Sharmen, ftw!).

#1. Ellen Morgan – Ellen vs. #9. Carmen de la Pica Morales – The L Word

#2. Santana Lopez – GLEE vs. #10. Emily Fields – Pretty Little Liars

#3 Naomi Campbell – Skins vs. #6. Jessie Sammler – Once and Again

#5. Paige McCullers – Pretty Little Liars vs. #13. Lara Perkins – The L Word

Voters went almost all chalk in the Baby Gays region, advancing all but two of the top seeds on to the next round. The upsets? Atypical‘s Casey Gardner advancing past All American‘s Coop and Supergirl‘s Nia Nal edging out Riverdale‘s Cheryl Blossom in the #7 vs. #10 match-up. Our closest match-up of the entire first round came in this region: the #8 vs #9 match-up between Catherine Meyer of VEEP and Nomi Segal of grown-ish came down to just five votes!

#1. Elena Alvarez – One Day at a Time vs. #8. Catherine Meyer – VEEP

#2. Tess Pearson – This Is Us vs. #10. Nia Nal – Supergirl

#4. Kate Messner – Everything Sucks vs. #5. Willow Rosenberg – Buffy

#6. Nicole – Fresh Off The Boat vs. #14. Casey – Atypical

We had similar results in the GROWN region: voters went chalk and advanced almost all of the top seeds to the next round. Much to my chagrin, American daytime television went 0-3 in the first round of our March Madness competition, including a surprise early exit for Mariah Copeland who was ousted by GLOW‘s Yolanda Rivas. I was a little surprised to see that the contest between Petra Solano and Sara Lance not be more of a battle…ultimately, last year’s March Madness runner-up won that contest handily.

#1. Denise – Master of None vs. #8. Kat Sandoval – Madam Secretary

#2. Erica Hahn – Grey’s Anatomy vs. #7. Petra Solano – Jane the Virgin

#3. Waverly Earp – Wynonna Earp vs. #6. Rosa Diaz – Brooklyn 99

#4. Alex Danvers – Supergirl vs. #12. Yolanda Rivas – G.L.O.W

Though the seedings suggested otherwise, I wasn’t surprised to see our favorite “wee lesbian,” Clare Devlin pull off the lone upset in the International region. She had all the momentum on her side and would’ve likely upended whoever she faced in the first round. The rest of the International region? All chalk, all the top seeds advanced to the next round.

#1. Mercedes Möller – Perdona nuestros pecados vs. #8. Umang Singh – Four More Shots Please

#2. Nasreen Paracha – Ackley Bridge vs. #7 Luisita Gómez – Amar es para siempre

#3. Valentina Carvajal – Amar a Muerte vs. #11. Clare Devlin – Derry Girls

#4. Juliana Valdés – Amar a Muerte vs. #5. Sara Millán (Óscar Ruiz) – Las Chicas Del Cable

But if you thought the choices in round one were hard, wait until you check out some of the match-ups for round two: Santana vs. Emily Fields? Kate Messner vs. Willow? Erica Hahn vs. Petra? Waverly vs. Rosa? Valentina vs. Clare? It only gets harder from here. If you need a refresher about the remaining shows, or if you want to toss yourself down a rabbit hole of coming out videos, then check out my earlier write-ups: Classics, Baby Gays, GROWN and International.

As always, the clock’s set: you’ve got 48 hours to cast your ballot in the second round of March Madness. After that’ll we’ll tabulate the votes, update the bracket and introduce you to the Sweet 16 on Friday!

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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 406 articles for us.


  1. One of these match-ups, I had to stare out the window for ten solid minutes before I could make a choice.

  2. I’m pulling for: Petra, Waverly, Alex (I want her to win it all), Paige, Elena, and Nia.

  3. JSYK, due to your wonderful explanation of what “chalk” means, every time I came to a match-up where I didn’t know either side very well, I voted for the lower seed, just to go against chalk. So that might screw up some of your predictions for the next round :P

  4. My thought process behind my votes: I think there is a difference between a character who is already out “coming out” because it’s the first time they’ve said it on the show (i.e. Kat Sandoval) vs. a character going through the journey of realizing that they’re queer (i.e. Alex Danvers). I think both are powerful, but IMO the latter feels more like what I want to win Best Coming Out.

    But also I know a lot of people would disagree with me! That’s what makes this so interesting/really really hard.

  5. I was having so much fun with round 1 that I forgot how painful this gets! I guess it’s a sign that I love so many of these characters and their individual journeys.

    • I came here to say the same thing about these two. I know they’d have to show down sooner or later but yiiiikes that was hard. I went with the one who made my cry all my coming out feelings the most (Willow)

      • I think I chose willow since she was my first, but OOOOF. 😭

        Knew you’d understand, Anna 😀💙

  6. Holy shit. Some of these pairings are out for blood. Rosa/Waverly and Kate/Willow? I spent more time on those two than I did voting in Chicago today.

  7. I have never watched This Is Us but I was visiting my parents and happened to walk in right as the coming out scene (or one of them?) began. They looked at me like I had some sort of superpower where every room I walk in immediately gets gayer. Which is true! I do!

    I love Nia, but considering how powerful the storyline was even out of context it gets my vote.

  8. Can’t believe I had to choose between Waverly and Rosa…

    As if Sara/Petra hadn’t been hard enough

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