Coming Out 101: The Autostraddle Guide

Happy National Coming Out Day Weekend! If you’re getting ready to come out (or not) or to support somebody who is (or isn’t) coming out tomorrow, we’ve got so much reading for you to chomp right into.


Personal Essays About Coming Out as Lesbian, Bisexual or Queer

Mastering the Art of Coming Out (and Making Lobster Bisque)

Coming Out As An Amorphous Weirdo

Netflix Outed Me: “Gay & Lesbian Movies” Was My Smoking Gun

How To Leave Your Husband (Because You’re a Lesbian)

Loving the Whole Me: A Bisexual Mom on Coming Out to Her Family

Estranged: How I Fell In Love With A Girl And Lost My Family

Coming Out To 50 People At Once Was So Much Easier Than Doing It One-on-One

Dear Queer Diary: Coming Out on Paper

Personal Essays About Coming Out as Transgender

“And I Do Mean All My Life”: A Trans* Coming Out Letter

Disowned: When Coming Out Doesn’t Go As Planned


Personal Essays About Not Coming Out:

A Fragile Dance: Queer Brown Futures (Or Lack Thereof)

You Don’t Have To Come Out On Thanksgiving: On Going Home and Being Quiet

On Faith And Gender, Or Why I Dress Like A Man On Fridays

Making a Home in the Closet

Impossible Machinery: On (Not) Coming Out to My Dad as Bisexual


Coming Out Advice

You Need Help: Coming Out When Your Girlfriend Is Amazing but Your Family Super Isn’t

9 Tips for Coming Out to Your African Family in 2017

Fool’s Journey: Moving Beyond a Difficult Coming Out Experience

You Need Help: How to Navigate Disabled Kids Coming Out

The 11 Best Holidays For Coming Out To Your Family and Friends

You Need Help: I Came Out To My Mom (Again) And You Can, Too

You Need Help: What’s My Label?

You Need Help: Coming Out In Your Mid/Late 20s

10 Tips For Surviving Your First Family Holiday After Coming Out

You Need Help: You’re Getting Married, Grandma Doesn’t Know

Y’All Need Help: Quick and Unprofessional Advice for Queers Who Need It

You Need Help: Where Do I Go From Here

5 Tips On Dating a Girl Who Is Only Kinda Sorta Maybe Out To Her Family And Friends

Fool’s Journey: Moving Beyond a Difficult Coming Out Experience

You Need Help: You Fell In Love With A Girl and It’s Exploding Your Whole Life

Straight Allies: Every Little Bit Helps

How I Came Out to My Evangelical Christian Parents And You Can, Too

Coming Out at Work: What a Way To Make a Living


Pop Culture Stories About Coming Out

To read the archive of posts written about celebrities coming out, click here: this is a coming out post.

A Tale Of Two Ellens

Cracking the Coming Out Code

Rosa Diaz’s Big Coming Out on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” Was Bittersweet — and Specifically Bisexual

16 Iconic Coming Out Moments to Celebrate on National Coming Out Day

Jodie Foster Coming Out: “This Is Something For Us.”

Michelle Rodriguez Coming Out Bisexual Is A Big Deal

People in Glass Closets: Anderson Cooper and Straight Responses to Coming Out

9 Famous Queer Ladies Who Figured it Out A Little Later


Coming Out Open Threads and Roundtables

Becoming Visible: On Coming Out As Bisexual

Coming Out: Yet Another Roundtable

Roundtable: On Coming Out In Our Applications, Interviews, and Lives

It’s National Coming Out Day and We’re Thinking of You

OPEN THREAD: Coming Out In The Sciences, Let’s Discuss!

National Coming Out Day OPEN THREAD: The Good, The Funny, The Awkward

Coming Out to Your Friends: The Autostraddle Roundtable

National Coming Out Day OPEN THREAD Wants To Hear Your Stories

Etc:

Lori Lindsey, USWNT Dark Horse: The Autostraddle Coming Out Interview

More Than Words: Coming Out Party

“This Is A Book For The Parents Of Gay Kids”: A Coming Out Conversation with Bruce and Phyllis

National Coming Out Day Listling Without Commentary: Selections From Your Coming Out Stories

26 Fantastic Excerpts From Your Coming Out Stories

Riese is a Jewish lesbian and the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2606 articles for us.

36 Comments

      • Thanks!! It’s gone amazingly well, everyone’s on board. I’ve been very privileged in all my coming outs. and especially now that there’s so much more trans and nonbinary visibility- when I first started questioning in 2008, I barely even knew what trans was. The only two media representations I had were Max and Ivan on the L Word- which is how I figured it out. Amazing how much things can change. Never thought I’d be saying a sentence that starts with “kids these days” but damn. Kids these days are all up on the pronouns and all about the nonbinary/trans awareness, at least in my city.

  1. That first comic stopped me cold. I went back to look at the source and…wow. That is my story except I was in my late 30s and had been married 17 years before I started to let go of what I thought I was supposed to want. That is, what would make me “normal” in the eyes of the world.

    People who don’t understand say being queer is a choice and, I suppose, I’m living proof that it is possible to deny something so hard that the lie becomes your reality. The thing is though that while my life looked solid, maybe even idyllic, to the casual observer, inside I was screaming and knew things couldn’t continue as they were. For a very long time I thought the problem was me, that I needed to try harder; be a better wife, better person. I tried so hard to be everything everyone else wanted me to be, but it didn’t work. I didn’t work, but, now, I do.

    Much love to anyone struggling with who they are and whether or not to come out. Be proud of yourself no matter what.

    Thank you for this wonderful compilation of articles and this site!

  2. Thank you so much for this!

    I would love more discussions/posts about coming out in a male-dominated field.

    Also, as someone who is bi, I often find it tricky to come out casually. Casually mentioning celebrity crushes seems to do the trick, but I’d love more suggestions! Sometimes, just mentioning an ex isn’t sufficient to get the point across.

  3. What a great resource! Thanks for putting it all together in one place. <3

    I came out to my Mum last year, then shortly after she died I inadvertently came out to one of my brothers. It went awkwardly but fine both times, although I had to come out to said brother again a couple of weeks ago because apparently he forgot the whole thing, haha!

    I’m planning on coming out on Facebook tomorrow because, while I consider most of the people I have added on there as my friends, we rarely get the chance to see each other face to face these days. I’m fairly sure it’ll all be okay, but I’m a little nervous to hear what my other brother has to say on the matter… despite being gay himself, he can be pretty homophobic when it comes to women so I’ve been putting off telling him for ages, even though we’re really close.
    Fingers crossed, and good luck to anyone else planning on coming out tomorrow (or any time in the future)!

  4. This is incredible and it’s going to help so many people.

    I wish I could find the words to explain my relationship with the idea of coming out (spoiler: I absolutely hate that “coming out” is a thing that is supposedly built in to my arrative as a gay person and I have no say in the matter) but I think I’m going to read everything in this article and my heart will grow 3 times and maybe I can string some thoughts together and give myself some peace.

    Thank you.

  5. Um I had conversation yesterday with my mom it was all “they” stuff about the LGBT her end. I corrected her that it was a “we not they for me” but she was busy talking over me not paying attention to what I was saying so that didn’t taking as a coming out.
    But…uh I think she may have outed herself as asexual.

    I’m not REALLY sure what happened, but that would make all lot of sense on her end of things.

  6. I have finished my letter to my parents about coming out as trans. I just need to add some resources.

    I keep putting off when I am going to tell them.

    Handing the letter over means saying goodbye and it breaks my heart. I know they aren’t going to take it well but I really don’t have any other choice.

  7. This is so great! And also seeing all these posts here in one place, is a real testament to you all and how much support you have given so many people for so many years. It’s stuff like this that makes me not even hesitate for a second any time you folks fundraise or ask for anything, ever. (especially enjoyed the one where you all baked and sent us cookies for $50).

  8. This is great! I’m volunteering at my college’s Coming Out Day event tomorrow (cuz there are no classes today) and all these great articles definitely put me in the spirit! Such a great resoure!

  9. Thank you for this. Sometimes I think about coming out to my family – I’m out to my friends, work place, etc… Not in my school, but I like it. But I just feel like I’m too shy when it comes to my private life with my family.

    But I could write a book about “how to not come out”. Like, last week, my brother came home. He went to my bedroom, looking for books on the library, and he could not miss the big gay flag from this year gay pride (my parents did not see it. or ignore it.) He looked at it, asked my “you’re lesbian ? you can tell me. I’m not going to say anything to the parents.” aaaaand I still managed to say “no, it was for fun with my friends, I’m as straight as you”
    Speak about a missed opportunity…

  10. This is so rad! I just recently came out to my family (this summer) and it was a really casual thing, but I performed in my college’s Coming Out Monologues and I’ve been thinking about coming out/being out so much lately. For me, I am in a position where being ~mostly~ out is freeing, so it was a good choice for me. Additionally, I attend a fairly progressive public liberal arts school where there are a lot of safe spaces for me to exist as a queer feminist woman. So I haven’t had too many barriers to support.

  11. I haven’t seen anything here about coming out to one’s children, so I thought that in case anyone’s interested, I would post something I wrote for a private trans-related message board after I came out to my son 11 years ago, when he was 14, about a year before I transitioned:

    So on Father’s Day (not because it was Father’s Day, just a
    coincidence), I finally had the “talk” with him that I’d been wanting so much to have the last few years. I just came right out and said we had to talk, and that I really had to find out what he meant when he said he knew “more than I thought,” and how he knew what he thought he knew, and that no matter how he found out whatever it was, I wouldn’t get mad at him.

    So he looked at me and said, “I know you’re transgender.” And I asked him how, and he said he’d known for about 6 months, and that it was a combination of things — taking a peek in the half of my bedroom closet that always stays closed and seeing women’s clothing, and seeing what looked like a prescription or a prescription receipt for estrogen on my desk (which I guess is possible), and, overall, just the fact that I seem to know so much about the subject (like when I had answers to all his questions when we were watching “Soldier’s Girl”). And that, “hey, I’m not stupid, I live with you 3 nights a week, I’m surprised you’d think I wouldn’t know by now.”

    (Since that conversation, he has also admitted that he realized some months ago that I have breasts. So all my efforts to conceal that from him, wearing long-sleeved button down shirts in 90-degree heat, were, in his words, “pointless, Dad.”)

    And because I wasn’t going to lie to him, I told him it was true, and I asked him how he felt about it. And he said he still loves me just as much, and doesn’t care. And that he hasn’t said anything to his mother, and won’t, because he understands how much harm and how many complications it might cause me in the divorce if she found out I was “more than a
    crossdresser” and tried to make a custody issue out of it.

    And I asked him if he understood what “transitioning” was, and he said he didn’t, and I explained what it was, and that it’s something I really hope to be able to do someday, but not till after the divorce is over. (The “timetable” I’ve given him is maybe 6 months or a year from now.) And he said, “you’re still going to be the same person, right, with the same personality, and interested in the same things?” And, “you’ll still have the same face, you’ll just be dressed differently?” And, as importantly as anything, “I’ll still be able to call you Dad?” And I said “of course,” to all those things, that I’ll always be Dad no matter what, and I’ll always be the same person
    (after all, I’ve always been transgendered), and that my body has changed in the last few years, and that I will be dressed differently, but it’ll still be my face. And I said I understood that accepting all this emotionally and intellectually might be easier for him than seeing the reality of it, and that I would wait till he was ready for it.

    He asked what my name would be, and I told him Donna, and at first he didn’t like it, but said he’d get used to it. And he asked me about surgery, and I explained that I had no immediate plans for it [at the time, I was sincere, since I thought my health problems would preclude it; obviously, things changed in that regard], but had had a different kind of operation last fall; he guessed that it was an orchiectomy, and when I asked how he could possibly guess that, he said it was because when we were watching Soldier’s Girl and that word was used incorrectly, I knew what it really meant. He said he knew I was a lesbian, and I asked how, and he said he can tell I like girls.

    And then he said again that he loved me, and then he joked that in a few years his having a transgender father might make a really good college admissions essay, and then he said, “I’m hungry, can you make me lunch?” And that was that, and it was the best Father’s Day I could ever wish for.

  12. Yay! Thank you for this monster of a resource! <3

    I guess coming out for me is more of a personal struggle of finding the courage for self-acceptance and actually living out what's been in my head all along.

    It was also a process of building this mindset where I dug into pop culture and media for affirming references where one woman desires and enters into a relationship with another woman. That meant tons of lesbian films & tv series, fanfiction, yuri manga, lgbt comics, feminist readings, etc.

    But if ever there was an actual coming out moment, it was when I told my parents I'm moving out to live with my partner.

    To this day, I still have this silly desire to wear a shirt with the lines from Imagine Me & You:
    Am I Gay?
    I'm Ecstatic!

  13. Riese I am all-caps DEVASTATED that this list does not include my two all-time fave AS coming out posts:
    1. Krisily Kennedy Bisexual
    2. Patricia Velazquez and her Parisian pastries

    I understand they have probably not been included because they are of niche interest, but as I exist only for niche interest I’m taking this as a personal affront.

  14. Well I just went down a rabbit hole! Great compilation and great articles, Autostraddle. I only started reading about 4 years ago, and this site has been around longer than I thought!

    I’m out to close friends & some family. It’s a hard call sometimes about who to come out to and when. But I’m happy that I’m able to be out to who I am out to, and that I can be myself now that I’ve realized I’m bi 🙂

  15. I’ve barely come out to anyone as bi or asexual, certainly not family. With work, it’s on my electronic appraisal that I’m bi, but I don’t know if anyone ever looks at that. If I was ever going to be in a relationship it might be different, but I don’t really have friends and I don’t like/care enough about my co workers for the most part to want to let them know.

    At the end of the day, I know and that is all that matters to me.

  16. I did it, I did the thing, yesterday, on Facebook, for the whole goddamn world to see, and it was so scary I rate-limited myself to only checking FB once an hour, even though everyone was wonderful. SO SCARY! But it was all okay!

  17. I came out 11 years ago to my mom, and we never talk about it. She knows that I’m gay (she knew when I came out to her), but we never have any conversations, or even mentions of me being a human being who dates. I’ve never had a girlfriend to bring home, so if/when that happens, it may finally start a conversation, but I honestly don’t feel any freer or more liberated after all these years…thanks, mom.

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