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People often ask me about my “coming out story.” What was it like? The truth is that when you’re queer, you come out all the time. Mostly because everyone around you assumes you’re straight, but also because your identity may change over time. You get better at coming out, over time, as you learn how to manage people’s reactions. Sometimes coming out is fun. Sometimes it’s terrifying. So I thought I might document some of my thousand little coming out stories, in more or less chronological order.

Some of the stories will only show what I said. Some will only show the reaction. Some will show both. All of them are from high school, since I no longer make an announcement of my sexuality, but mostly let my hairstyle and casual use of female/gender-neutral pronouns for love interests speak for themselves. I hope they give some insight into what it’s like to come out so many times, in so many ways.


friend, age 16

“Luz, you are attracted to both males and females. By definition, you are bisexual.”

“…I guess.”


friend, age 16

“I have an announcement to make. I am bisexual.”

“It’s okay, honey. I don’t mind if you like boys too sometimes.”


mother, age 50

“When I was in college, I constantly fell in love with men who turned out to be gay. So I developed really good gaydar. I can always tell.”

“I disagree.”

“Why?”

“Because you couldn’t tell with me.”

“Sure I did. You were so checking out that girl in the purple jacket when I picked you up from the library.”


aunt, age 56 & aunt, age 52 & uncle, age 54

“You’re just doing this for the attention.”


friend, age 16

“There is a legend in China that if a woman picks a four-leafed clover, she will marry the first man she sees after picking it.”

“And what if she sees a woman?”

“Well, if you are that way…”

“Maybe I am that way.”

“Wait, you’re a lesbian?”


GSA members, age 15 – 17

“We all knew you wrote that anonymous message about being bi. We recognized your handwriting. It’s OK. We thought it was sweet.”


friend, age 14

“I have something important to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“I think I’m bisexual.”

“Ah. I figured.”


father, age 54

“You’re not allowed to go to those meetings anymore. I won’t allow it. I won’t let my daughter hang around those people.


grandmother, age 82

“Back in the day, I used to hang out with a lot of chefs who were gay. They were all in the closet back then, but they knew they could be themselves with me. So if you want to bring a special friend around some time, you’re always welcome.”


classmate, age 14

“For the fiftieth time, James and I are not secretly in love.”

“But you giggle together in class and whisper to each other!”

“Listen. James is gay and I’m a lesbian.”

“…Oh.”

Now do you believe me?”


aunt, age 50

“You can’t be a lesbian. You wear lipstick.”


friend, age 17

“The oppression of LGBT people is a serious issue.”

“Maybe in the Deep South, but not here!”

“But you see oppressive language in casual speech even here. Old friends I haven’t seen since I was five ask me, ‘Are you into boys yet?’ or ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ and they’re making assumptions, unfair ones.”

“Well, are you into boys?”

“No.”

“Are you into groundhogs?”

“NO!”

“OK, good, at least I have some idea what we’re talking about here. Are you into girls?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, fine.”


friend, age 17 & uncle, age 60 & cousin, age 16

“You can’t be a lesbian. You had a crush on Legolas from that Lord of the Rings movie.”


cousin, age 18

“I think feminism turned you into a lesbian.”


classmate, age 15

“Who’s your crush? Please, Luz, tell me!”

“For the third time, it’s none of your business.”

“Pleeeeaaase! Look, I promise I won’t tell anyone! Who is he?”

“The mistake you’re making, Valerie, is that you’re asking ‘Who is he?’”

“Wait, what? If we weren’t in the middle of a department store, I’d be yelling!”


father, age 56

“I’d say you’re more of a hypothetical lesbian. Have you even had a girlfriend?”


classmate, age 17

“I hope this isn’t rude or intrusive or anything, but like, do lesbians really use strap-ons? And if you do, then why wouldn’t you just want dick instead?”


cousin, age 17

“Sometimes I wish I were a lesbian. Boys are so stupid, you know?”


friend, age 17

“I had a crush on Jen when we were in summer camp together. I wish I were as confident as you are in your sexuality. All I can say is that maybe I’m… straight-ish.”


friend, age 16

“When you’re in the GSA, you’re the first to know when someone comes out.”

“Like who?”

“Oh, you know. Rachel, Michael, David, Briana, Terence… and, well…”

Our eyes met, and we spoke the next word at the same time.

“Me.”


“You know, since you were brave enough to say it, I think I have the courage to finally say it too. I’ve never said this before to anyone. Not even myself. But I think this label, this box of straightness that I’ve tried to fit into all my life – I just can’t pretend anymore. I think I need to find a new identity that suits me better, but I don’t know what that is. Can you help me?”

“Yes, of course. I’m here for you, no matter what. And whether you find a label that fits or you never do, I’ll respect you for who you are all the same.”


That last story has happened more times than I can count. It’s my favorite coming out story, because if there’s one thing that’s even better than finding the courage to be my authentic self, it’s helping others find the courage to do the same.

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