This collection of LGBTQ+ coming out stories in honour of this year’s National Coming Out day will warm your heart.
Founded in the United States in 1988, National Coming Out day is now an internationally celebrated event that falls on the October 11 every year.
Emily Bashforth, an 18-year-old student journalist from England, has collected stories from all over the world of when, how and why people came out – and how it affected their lives.
Emily told PinkNews she embarked on this ambitious project “to show how someone’s coming out experiences can vary depending on where you live.
“They told me when and how they came out, how it made them feel, and how accepted the LGBTQ+ communities are in their countries – which opened my eyes to the world we live in.
“The awareness day acknowledges the strength it takes for those who are closeted to come out, and aims to raise awareness for the LGBT+ community.”
Here are their stories.
Megan Ahern, Ireland
Megan, 18, has an open-minded family, which made it easier for her to come out as bisexual in the summer of 2016.
She and her sister became embroiled in a heated discussion about President Donald Trump’s ignorance towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Suddenly, her sister said: “Megan, is the reason you’re getting so defensive about it because you’re gay?”
“I was really shocked, because this was the first time someone had asked me out loud,” Megan said.
“Looking back now, I’m glad my sister got the ball rolling because I’m not sure I would’ve been able to make that first step by myself.”
She continued: “It was undoubtedly terrifying talking about it, despite the fact I knew that my sister would never judge me, but once it was out there it was like was experiencing an entirely new sense of freedom.”
Megan believes National Coming Out Day is important to celebrate the bravery of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It also sends out a message to those in the closet that everything will be okay,” she said.
Kayli Lucas, US
16-year-old Kayli is bisexual, and came out last year.
“The first time I came out, which was to my best friend, we were sitting in my living room and she came out to me as bisexual,” she said.
“Later that night when we were in bed I came out to her as bisexual as well.
“I remember not being nervous – I already felt accepted by her.
“I blurted it out while we were just talking, and it was something along the lines of ‘I think I like girls, too.'”
Kayli said she believes that, overall, the LGBTQ+ community are accepted where she lives, adding that she had found it easier to come out knowing her friend had already done so.
Shari Sievers, Germany
22-year-old Shari is demisexual and lives in Germany, where same-sex marriage was legalised earlier this year.
She had a difficult first experience with coming out.
“It took me about a year into a relationship with a very loving boy when I realised I wasn’t only bisexual – that there was more to it, since I never really felt sexual attraction to him.
“When I started researching it and came to the point that I could call myself demisexual, I really felt the urge to tell my boyfriend because it was taking a toll on our relationship.
“Because he’s always been a very sexual person, he knew something was up – I was only sleeping with him to make him happy.
“I explained how I need this deep connection in a romantic way with someone first and even then, the sexual urge is very rare. I was really scared that he could leave me.
“I burst into tears and I felt like throwing up because he was so confused,” Shari recalled.
She also had trouble when explaining her sexuality to her friends, saying that one friend referred to demisexuality as “a bad thing for a relationship”, stating that “it totally kills the spirit.”
Shari said this was “totally not true.”
She added: “We had an argument about it, but I decided I couldn’t change her mind.”
Shari grew up in Lower Saxony, a northern part of Germany which is mostly Protestant.
She believes that being LGBTQ+ is more accepted there for that reason.
Laura Stockmans, Luxembourg
15-year-old Laura identifies as pansexual, non-binary and transgender.
“I came out as pansexual to my best friend in school,” they remembered.
“I was incredibly nervous, but she said she’d been expecting it and that it wouldn’t change our relationship in any way.
“After that, I was open about questioning my gender.
“I came out to my parents as non-binary in December last year. I had briefly talked about gender with my mum because she asked me about it, but I hadn’t really come out to her.
“She found an article about a non-binary person, and after reading it asked me to read it.
“After reading it I told her that that’s exactly how I feel. A few days after that, we showed the article to my dad and I answered all of their questions about it.”
When asked if their friends and family had been accepting of their coming out, they said: “My friends and family that I’ve come out to have been absolutely amazing.
“They have been more accepting than I would have thought. My mum and sister always make sure they’re not misgendering me, and my sister almost never uses the wrong pronouns.”
Speaking about how accepted LGBTQ+ people are in Luxembourg, Laura said: “My country is a very multicultural country and my parents come from abroad.
“As well as that, I go to a European school which forces you to accept other cultures and beliefs.
“I believe that that really helps you accept other’s differences. Of course, there are transphobes and homophobes, but most people seem to be quite accepting in my area.”
“My country’s Prime Minister is gay and it is not frowned upon to be LGBTQ+. While the gay community isn’t huge, I’ve heard that it’s very active.
“It’s also legal for same-sex couples to get married.” Laura added.
In June 2014, Luxembourg’s parliament passed a law enabling same-sex marriage and adoption rights, which took effect on January 1 2015.
Carrie Yeager, US
18-year-old Carrie identifies as bisexual. She lives in the US, a place where the LGBTQ+ community is embattled at the moment, with Trump in office.
Carrie came out when she was 15, via Facebook.
It was a difficult step to take, as she worried about what those closest to her would think.
This made their actual reaction a huge relief.
“A large majority of my friends and family are insanely accepting of me coming out [as] being bisexual,” Carrie said.
“At first, some relatives were quite harsh about it, but after some time they came around and grew to become as accepting as everyone else.”
When asked about anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in the US, Carrie said: “Depending on where you live in the country and the beliefs of people around you, [that effects] how accepting everyone is of the LGBTQ+ community.
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“For example, I feel the Southern states aren’t as accepting as the East Coast and the West Coast.”
Chloé Puigvert, France
France became the thirteenth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in 2013, and the first country in the world to stop labelling transgender people as mentally ill.
Chloé, 16, came out as a lesbian to her mum two years ago.
She was extremely anxious and shaky, blurting out: “I like girls” one day at home, but her mum told her: “I always knew.”
“My friends are 100% okay with my sexuality and, to be honest, a lot of my friends are in the LGBTQ+ community,” Chloé said.
“My family are okay with it too. It was hard at the beginning with some family, but now it’s fine.”
Chloé said being gay is relatively easy in France, “because in some countries it’s illegal to be gay, so I guess I’m lucky to be French because there’s no law against who I am.”
In terms of advice for anyone thinking about coming out, Chloe said: “Go for it.
“I know it’s scary, I know it’s hard, but you are what you are and you shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Ever.”