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

Well good day to you, queers! It’s National Coming Out Day, were you aware? This is a very “Kumbaya” sort of day in which we, The Out, send our most supportive and loving vibes to The Closeted, so that they may feel the power of the rainbow and charge forth into Honesty and Visibility, etc.

It’s also a good time to do what queers love best: talk about ourselves!

We thought we’d share some of the more humorous / awkward reactions we’ve received in our many, many years of proclaiming our homogayness to the world! As mentioned in yesterday’s Advice for Homogays from Homogays and Coming Out at Work, you should always take your own safety / job security very seriously and never feel pressured to come out in an unwelcoming environment.

Taylor, Tech Editor:

My mom and I were extremely close, but we never talked about Things, of course.

Inevitably the moment came and I had to choke out that awful mouthful of awkward. I’d already done that horrifying I have something to tell you thing that invariably results in either you coming out or the person you’re talking to thinking you were going to come out, even if you’d simply wrecked your car or were pregnant or something.

I somehow managed to exhale my way through some cop-out variation on “I have a girlfriend” or how my girlfriend at the time, Erica, and I were more than friends, something, something and then I inhaled and unfurrowed my eyebrows and there it was. My mom is super cool, but kind of prim in this puritan-throwback way, so I had no fucking idea what was going to happen.

Next thing I know, there was a beat and then my mom busts out with “I THINK THAT’S A GREAT IDEA!”

And then, as though she was possessed suddenly by some sapphic demon whose realm was twentysomething nostalgia, my mom came pouring out with this entire sense-memory-ridden stream-of-consciousness tidal wave about her very close friend in college, and how, if they had only been attracted to one another, things might have been so great because they loved each other so much.

So, I don’t know if my mom stole my spotlight or if it was just her series of horribly failed marriages talking, but yeah. That’s how it went down, no kidding.

Intern Elizabeth:

I came out to my mom last year on National Coming Out Day via text message (because I was about to get on a bus to DC and I didn’t want to leave the state without telling my mom why). In classic mom style, she tried to send me a sweet message back about how yes, she did already know, but she hit send too early and I got only half a message: “Thank you for telling me and I am very proud of you. I have really always known and its never made a difference. Please let me k” Eventually I got a whole text from her, but I’m still amused at our whole interaction.

Jen, Marketing:

The first time I told my 93 year old Grandma that I was gay she said, “I think you’ll be really good at that dear.” Three minutes later, she asked me what my husband did for work. She has Alzheimer’s. I’ve come out to her a bunch of times actually and she seems to really enjoy the idea while she can remember it.

Hot Laura:

Romance languages are fun, but gendered adjectives are really just asking for trouble, especially since Spanish textbooks seem to think that dating is a great topic for the first chapter. One year, we had an exercise where we had to go around the room and say what we were looking for in a person. I don’t remember what I said, but when I used an adjective with a feminine ending, my teacher corrected me saying “no, make sure your nouns and adjectives agree.” I said “I know” and she started to explain again but then it hit her that I wasn’t stupid, just gay. She turned bright red and apologized and we moved on like nothing had happened.

Crystal, Music Editor:

My mother and I have a rather distant relationship, we never really get personal and so the coming out conversation quite amusing. I think we both wanted the discussion to be over with ASAP.

Me: I’ve started dating a girl.
Mother: Oh. Okay. Do you need to talk about your … [super awkward pause] … feelings?
Me: No. I think I’m okay.
Mother: Oh. Okay. Good.
Me: Okay.

Jess R.:

“So Mom has been watching The L Word reruns all week… Shane is my favorite.”
-my Dad, 2007

I never officially “came out” to my dad, he just figured it out through my incessant L Word commentary and my mom’s concurrent obsession. I guess he figured ONE of us had to be.

Intern Emily:

I told my parents that Katrina and I were walking down the street in NYC and we saw Marie Lyn Bernard, this blogger that I really like, and that we went to dinner with her. Then I was like “Just kidding, I work for a website that she runs and it’s gay and so am I.”

Intern Lily:

“But we all thought it would be [girl from my former Girl Scout troop]”
– My mother

She figured that only one of the girls from my youth could possibly turn out to be gay and she didn’t understand how I’d ended up being the chosen one. She had a point, there were other far more obvious choices. I hope they’re all gay now.

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Are you out to all 96737 of your closest friends, family and co-workers? Tell us your own hilarious / hilariously awkward coming out reactions in the comments!

If you’re coming out to someone today, GOOD LUCK, FRIEND. Let us know how it goes! For more on coming out and how to do it, visit the HRC’s Coming Out Project.

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201 Comments

  1. I have decided that I will never come out to my family…ever! My parents are uber-religious zealots and African to boot. I once came out to my sister when I was 15 and she cried. Being that we are very close, and still are, I thought it would be alright and cool between us, but alas. She pretends that we never had the conversation about my orientation and even ’til now, we don’t talk about it. I’m never going to do it again just because it’s too much hurt and they don’t HAVE to know about me, do they? No one comes up to me and says, “Hey, I’m straight and I hope you still love me for the person I am.”

  2. The first person I (half way) came out to was my best friend at the time; we were both 13. It was pretty awesome because I sort of used it to to my advantage. The conversation went something like this:

    “I’m bi.”
    “So am I.”
    “No way… then prove it!”
    “Ok…”

    She finally proved it later that night… and I got my first kiss, but nothing really ever came of it except maybe one more night of making out and fondling. Although I did end up sleeping with her older sister five years later. Oops.

    The coming out to my mother when I was 18 wasn’t as nice. I come from a very small and close-minded redneck town. The reason I came out (again only half way) was because my mom was sleeping with a local tattoo artist who was also sleeping with a girl that I was sleeping with. Gross, I know. One night I broke down and finally told her that “I’m bi.” and she just looked at me, tears streaming down her face, and said, “I love you, but that’s not what I wanted for my children.” She took it pretty rough. Throughout my entire life she always said to us kids, “You can be anything, but just don’t be gay.” She must have said that at least fifty times during my childhood. Needless to say, it was pretty damn hard to finally come out. She denied it for quite a while, but she had to finally face it when I came home to visit from Berkeley and had my new girlfriend with me. Four and a half years later and I’m still with my girl and my mom still wishes I were with a boy and secretly asks me about past boyfriends in such ways as, “Do you think you’d still be with ‘that boy’ if you weren’t with your girlfriend?” Sigh. It’s not too bad, I mean, it could be much worse.

    My grandma took it great. I actually think she likes my girlfriend more than me, haha.

  3. I’ve been slowwwwwly coming out over the past…however many years. Four I think.

    First over IM to my best friends (at separate times, and I told the conservative one I was only bisexual) when I was thirteen. Then, my mum sent my little sister out of the room so we could have this lovely conversation when I was fifteen:

    Her: ‘Honey, please listen to me. I think you think you might be gay, and that you have a crush on [girlfriend]’ (and she did that thing where her voice got kinda high-pitched and teary)

    Me: ‘Uh, I’ve been dating [girlfriend] for three months now.’

    Her: ‘…Oh. Well, I’m glad we can talk about this! Also you can’t have her in your room ever again.’

    I made my sister cry when I came out. She literally said (through tears) ‘But you’re the last person I would have expected!’ But then we had the most civil and honest conversation we’ve ever had and now she gets super excited about LGBT rights victories which is cute.

    My friends were mostly ‘good for you two!’ (my girlfriend also happens to be my best friend). One of them who is super conservative needed a few weeks to get over it but as long as I don’t bring it up she’s cool. The other super-conservative one, amusingly, is just so excited that there’s actual romance in her general vicinity that she’s made an exception to her ‘People shouldn’t be gay’ rule. Small victories.

    I haven’t come out on Facebook/to the general public yet since my girlfriend is SUPER PARANOID about being bullied even though I’ve tested the waters (ironically via anonymous-question-time in Christian Studies) and pretty much everyone either doesn’t care or thinks homophobia is stupid. Besides, I go to an all-girls school where basically everyone acts gay.

  4. I finally came out last week, a week before coming out week, haha.
    I went with the Pride Alliance at my university to this cabin my school owns in the mountains that they rent out to student groups, which was basically lets stick lots of gay people in a cabin and see how drunk we can get them! Lots of firsts happened for me that weekend and I was on the way home with a few of my friends (including the girl I like who likes me but has a girlfriend aksldjfadsf) and I was like, “I should come out to my mom!” I knew I wouldn’t have the same courage to do it if I waited till we got all the way back to school, so my friend told me to call right there. She didn’t answer and I was going crazy. We stopped at a IHOP on the way back and as we sat down at the table, my mom called back so my friend walked with me outside. I found out she was in the car with my dad, but I knew I had to say it anyway. I wanted her to ease it out for me– to ask what I had done that weekend and whatever, but even when I told her I went with the Pride Alliance, she didn’t react at all which annoyed me because I needed her to ask about it! Finally I just said, “Mom, I’m bisexual” and first she was like, “You’re telling me this on the phone while I’m in the car?!” and then she told me it wasn’t a surprise and she loved me and supported me no matter what and all that good stuff. She also told me that my brother told her a few years ago because he saw it on Facebook, but I’m not out on Facebook and never was so I’m still not sure how that happened…

    So that’s my very, very recent story!

  5. I came out to my parents this coming out day. Not on purpose though…I didn’t realize until after the fact. It was also thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Hooray for awkward family gatherings!

    It was VERY necessary though. I’m graduating and moving home in two weeks and it had gotten to the where I couldn’t be around them without some serious anxiety/panic attacks. I knew my dad wouldn’t care, but I was more worried about my mom (based on some the remarks she makes).

    Me: “There is something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about for a while now. I need to tell you now because I need to know that when I move home everything will be okay”
    (long pause)
    Me:”I’m gay.”
    Dad: “That’s okay. Some people are. You know that we love you no matter what.”

    Dad: “I bet you’re worried about telling your mom.”
    Me: “Yeah. More than anything.”
    Dad: “Your mom can be a bit emotional and sometimes she doesn’t say the most appropriate things, and she will probably have some questions, but she loves you. Everything will be OK.”

    I don’t think I have ever loved him more than at that moment.

    Everything went well with my mom too though. Even better than expected. Such a relief.

  6. 1st coming out:

    friend: I…. have something to tell you.
    me: okay.
    friend: I’m bisexual, I have a girlfriend, and yeah.
    me: Oh, I know.
    friend: you know?! How do you know?
    me: Gaydar. Dude, I’m gay too.
    friend: NO WAY!
    me: Yeah, I totes knew you were gay forever

    Then I fell in love with her. And am still deeply in love with her.

    2nd coming out:
    DVD girl: So you want the third season of the L word?

    me: yeah.

    DVD girl: okay
    I totally prep to ask her out, but a group of guys come in, so I pay and go to leave after waiting for her to be free

    DVD girl: One minute, I need to talk to you.

    me: okay (FUCK YEAH), thats cool.

    DVD girl, in private: You wanna go out sometime?

    me: you… do know I’m gay, right?

    DVD girl: yeah.

    me: When and where, babe.

    She’s now my girlfriend. I love her so much, but we need The Talk. *sigh*

    3rd coming out:
    brother: I can’t tell you guys anything cause you get all emotional and stop talking to people.

    Me: Fine, I’ll start it. I drink and smoke.

    Brother: I DO TOO! Also… I….uhhh….have a girlfriend.

    Me: Awesome! Congratulations!! I uh…. I don’t think I should tell you this. You’ll over react

    Brother: Come on, you know me

    Me: Yeah, but this is major…

    Brother: I’m ready….

    Me: I’m gay, and I have a girlfriend too.

    Brother: I just changed my mind about sending you pictures of my girlfriend.

    Me: UGH, incest, fuck no, wth man.

    Brother, laughing: I was just kidding with you. I always thought you might be, and mom…

    Me: Mom is a totaly dyke.

    Brother: What proof do you have?

    Me: Gaydar. Flawless. Shes bisexual.

    Brother: that explains a lot…

    Best coming out ever, and now we discuss our chick problems, and complain about when they PMS at us, and suchlike. I love him to death <3 We might visit them, and then they'll visit us and maybe we'll even go couple camping. He's still unused to hearing me talk about her, but he said he's cool with it, and wouldn't be uncomfortable if we PDA'd in public (me and him don't over PDA, just a quick kiss on the lips before leaving our girls, etc.)

    <3

  7. Me: I wanted to tell you something…
    My sister: (joking) What, are you gay?
    Me: (shocked) Yeah!
    My sister: What? I was kidding! I thought you were gonna tell me you were pregnant!

    Turns out she was ok with it in theory, not so much in reality. It’s better now though.

  8. I came out yesterday to my sister via facebook message. Her reaction:
    “Me too!”
    (5 minutes later)
    “O.K. so I just scrolled down and a really lesbian looking woman (no offence intended) was cheering you on so I thought, “maybe she’s serious, but she wouldn’t tell me by FB” in which case my last message would be really rude. Anyway, if you’re gay Go Baby, Go! sit real close to [brother-in-law] just to make him nervous (he thinks homosexuality is a disease) and maybe in your next life don’t tell me these things by FB. If you’re not, forget this message and read the first one I sent.
    Love you whichever the answer is.”

    I love my sister so much.

  9. Early 2009, I’m on my study abroad abroad year from uni and my family come to visit. My brother and I are out at a bar. My brother’s five years younger than me, although he’s always been about ten years more street smart and sex forward. His love life is basically the Skins storyline, off the small screen and In Real Life. But, even so, he’s still five years younger than me and, up til this point, we’ve never exactly discussed Gay Stuff.

    But, this night, my girlfriend’s in the bar, too. I know he’s going to be cool and shrug his shoulders and say whatever, but I decide it’s time to get discussing, anyway. We go outside and sit on some steps. (This isn’t such a soap opera move as it might sound, because it’s warm-ish, and so lots of people are outside and sitting around on the steps.)

    I’m nervous, even though I know he’s going to do all that chilled out, laid back, whatever stuff.

    Me: Right. So. Like…you know K? Yeah, well I mean, here, right now, like, um, yeah so she’s kinda…no, I mean she is, she’s my girlfriend.

    Him, no pause, easy breezy, bright ‘and the big deal is?’ kind of tone: Ah, yeah, cool, I figured.

    Conversation moves on. We talk about some other stuff. We get up to go inside again. As we stand –

    Him: Last week I sucked off my mate Dan,just to see how it would be really. It was kind of boring.

    Me, intake of breath pause, not easy breezy bright and ‘what’s the big deal’ AT ALL: YOU DID WHAT???! WHAT?!! No, wait, did I hear that right?!! What the fuck. Come right back here, we are TALKING about this.

    Yeah. Way to trump the coming out speech, kiddo; way to keep your cool and maintain your gay street cred, lesbo sista.

  10. The first time I came out was actually to the first girl I ever dated.

    Her: I have to tell you something.
    Me: What?
    Her: There’s this girl I kinda-
    Me: NO! That’s totally not okay!!!!
    Her: You know, I thought you’d be the last person to not-
    ME: NO! You’re supposed to like me!!!

    And that’s how I came out. I honestly didn’t even realize I was gay until that point.

  11. I told my Uberchristian mom I was gay two years ago. We live about 2000km apart (thankfully), or I’m sure she would have come and painted crosses in holy oil on all my doors and other antisatan things she does. As it was, all she did was conduct an ontelephone exorcism to get rid of the Demon of Homosexuality I’d picked up by being around lesbians (somewhat like the common cold). She still does this periodically, although not just to get rid of the DOH, but also things like insomnia or fatigue, so I don’t feel too discriminated against.

  12. My grandmother’s reaction:
    1. I’m so glad you’re happy!
    2. Thank you for telling me.
    3. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t want me to.
    4. I have your back if anyone else in the family has a problem with it.
    5. I already knew you were gay.
    6. When I was at girl scout camp I used to love kissing girls on my bunk bed.
    7. I wish I never married your grandfather.
    8. What’s your girlfriend’s name again?

  13. After taking a bus to my parents house with my girl friend at the time where she sat in a park down the street as my parents wanted to talk about something.

    Parents: “We know about the girl in the park.”
    Me: “Uhh… okay.”

    That was it, they read through all of my online profiles trying to learn more about my life and found out I was dating a girl that way. They still don’t accept it really. They’re getting better but it’s still pretty awkward and no one else in my family is allowed to know. Damn christian upbringing.

  14. In my most recent, and uneventful Outing, I was talking to a guy from my English 150 class who happened to be bi. We talked all homogay, nbd, finish conversation. The people sitting around us piped up with the usual “oh it’s cool, I have gay friends”.
    When the conversation shifts, I start reading my book “Anarchy Evolution; Faith, science and Bad Religion in a world without God”(By Greg Graffin & Steve Olson)”. I notice one of the guys next to me is trying to read the cover. I hold it up for his inspection and watch his mouth form the words “without God”, his eyes bulge, he gasps and inch away from me; treating me the rest of the class as if I were contagious.

    I’m mentioning this since I found it extremely odd for him to brush of my lesbianism, but treat my religious [atheist] views as a disease.

  15. A few months ago I started really trying to find out what my mom and stepdad’s reaction would be if i told them I was bi. I would always ask what they would do if my little brother was gay. I kept asking and eventually my mom said, “Stop making fun of your brother!I know the way he acts, but he’s still just a little kid!”
    That, of course, made me laugh and give up prying.I haven’t told them, but I haven’t made any real effort to keep it a secret. I refuse to wear dresses and high heels, and they know I have a few gay freinds. I think they may realize somethings going on, if they don’t quite understand what. Like the time I was at a birthday party and put on a tiara and they were all surprised and joked about it.

  16. Ok so no one has commented on this in months but what the hell, I’ll share my story anyway haha.

    As we all know, coming out is a process… a very long process. You can’t come out to everyone in your life all at once (if you can, then more power to ya) so we end up having to go through it multiple times. So anyway, the first person I told was my friend Mike. I was at a party and he was texting me asking my why I haven’t had a boyfriend since junior high. He jokingly said “maybe you like girls, that’s why”. I replied to his text as follows: “haha………” and he figured it out and was totally cool with it.

    The next person I told was my close friend Becky, who I knew wouldn’t care because she goes to a very liberal college and has a handful of gay & lesbian friends. I was talking to her one day and randomly asked her if one of her friends was straight or not. She said she was bi and asked why I wanted to know. I told her I was curious because I thought she was super cute and I mentioned how it was no coincidence that I never had boyfriends in high school. She got excited that I finally came out and said back “I always kinda thought you were gay but I didn’t want to say anything because I wasn’t sure”. She goes shopping with me now to buy gay pride stuff for her friends haha :)

    The funniest but most awkward experience was when I came out to my twin sister, who is not only straight, but very straight edge. We were sitting on the couch watching a movie and I told her I wanted to tell her something. She could tell it was serious because I wasn’t laughing (which I almost always am). She looked at me all serious and said “what, are you like secretly a lesbian or something?…” and I just laughed and nodded. She thought I was joking at first but I was like “no, seriously.. I am”. To this day I still find it hilarious that her first thought was completely right. She said she had no clue I was gay but she must have thought so at some point or else she wouldn’t have assumed that first. She was kind of weirded out at first but that phase didn’t last long. Shes really cool with it now.

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