Happy National Coming Out Day: Stories from Proudflare
Today is the 30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day. We wanted to share some coming out stories from members of Proudflare and draw attention to resources the Human Rights Campaign provides to those who are thinking about coming out or wish to be supportive of those who come out to them.
About National Coming Out Day
On October 11, 1987, about 500,000 people marched on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This was the second demonstration of this type in the capital and it resulted in the formation of several LGBTQ organizations.
In the late 1980s, the LGBTQ community recognized that they often reacted defensively to anti LGBTQIA+ actions and the community came up with the idea of a national day for celebrating coming out. The anniversary of the 1987 march was chosen as that national day.
Each year on October 11th, National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly.
Coming out stories from Proudflare
Here are seven examples of the coming out stories that surfaced from a company-wide awareness campaign. I hope you’ll enjoy reading these and will find inspiration in them. Let’s all be loud and proud and supportive of our (often silent) community members in their own coming out processes.
My Prima Bella
We were teenagers when my cousin (then male) originally came out as gay. We were and still are very close. We were born the same year, traveled Europe as small children, understood various languages and were both very adaptable middle children. Both our families settled in California when we returned to the US and continued to see each other regularly over the years. This gay coming out was no surprise to our large Latino family. We always accepted her just the way she was. It was later on when we were in college, I took a call from her when she was elated to tell me she was now, “working as a woman.” That’s when everything came into focus and we cried together over her transition to her true female self. She is an inspiration to me, my husband, our children and all the extended family who hold her dear, among many others. I couldn’t be more proud of her and count myself lucky to be related to such a talented, honest, creative, beautiful and hard working woman.
My first love happened when I was 16 years old
My first love happened when I was sixteen years old. We dated for four years and had what I considered was a normal break up for that age. He wanted to pursue dreams in LA and I wanted to be in the Bay Area close to my family. We both agreed we were too young for long distance, so we amicably went our separate ways and promised to remain friends. We stayed in touch over the years and tried to maintain that we could remain best of friends despite being broken-hearted. I went to visit him a few times and noticed some trends in his friends. He had a lot of gay friends and we went to gay bars while I was there. I chopped it up to the industry that he was in (male model), but I would be lying if I didn’t say I started to feel suspicious. Finally by the third time I came to visit, it just seemed so apparent that he had found another part of himself: one that seemed to make him feel at home. I cornered him one evening in a bar and said, “Please just tell me,” and his response was, “Why? You already know,” to which I said, “Because I need to hear it from you.” He then turned to me and said, “I am gay”. I looked at him, I kissed him, and my response was and will always be, “And I still love you. You are still the same person to me.”
What people don’t know is that because he had been a model I was teased about my “gay” boyfriend while we dated. What people don’t know is that I was suspicious of this at the end of our relationship, but at twenty years old how do you talk to someone about that? It was obvious he was closed off and I wasn’t ready to admit that I thought my boyfriend of four years was gay. What I did know was that my feelings were not what were as important as what he was going through. I knew him. I knew how he fought this. I knew how he saw that in his head that the happily ever after was supposed to be me or a version of me (aka female) with a white picket fence and children. I knew if I told him how crushed I was at the time it would kill him. So I told him what I truly believe inside my soul to be true and that was, “You are and will always still be the same person you have always been to me. You are the same good human that puts everyone else first and are one of the most loyal people I know. You treated me with respect, have always been so loving, and showed me what I good relationship was. I am so proud of you for showing me who you truly are inside and I will stand by your side the rest of my life.”
I was best woman in his wedding to a man. Some people don’t understand our story. Some people ask me if I felt like our relationship wasn’t real because he turned out to be gay. To that, I say our relationship was more real than most. His final choice in sexuality has nothing to do with that. Again, he has and always will be the same person to me. It doesn’t change our history. We were a boy and a girl who at the time fell in love and who have now since found the loves of our lives in other people. His just happened to be a man.
I forgot to come out and it still gave me rest
Around the age of thirteen, I knew that I had more romantic attractions towards the same sex. I didn’t have a crush, as many love stories tend to start, but I noticed my fellow students showed much more interests in girls than I did and so I came to the conclusion I was gay. It was that simple, quick and painless. In the next few months I told my friends about it, in my way I was proud about it, proud that I was able to be different.
>> Fast forward four years.
Growing up in the liberal lights of Amsterdam I’ve never had the feeling that coming out was a subject I had to worry about. My mother went to Paris with my sister for the weekend and I had the house for myself and during this weekend I remembered I never told my parents that I was gay, it was just never a thing. I decided that when she returned I would tell her. After she returned on Sunday I asked her to sit down because I wanted to tell her something important, she turned all white and asked: what happened? I told her that everything is fine and that I wanted to tell her that I was gay and would come home with a guy at some point. She directly got up from her chair and, I remember this like nothing else, she said “please, never scare me again, I thought something serious happened, you don’t have to tell me you’re gay, as a mother I know”. After that I went to my dad (my parents are divorced) and he replied the same that he already knew and that’s all good. In a way I expected nothing else but I was still happy the way it went. I wish everyone the same and have supportive friends. Don’t be worried about the world, put yourself on the first place and the right people will come to you.
There is no single coming out story – nearly every day involves coming out
There is no single coming out story – nearly every day involves coming out. Of course, it is most difficult to come out to the people who are most important to you or whose judgement impacts your life in significant ways, but being out and coming out is a continuous process.
As a bisexual person, coming out becomes even harder: what label do I use? Is it easier to say I am a lesbian? Is it easier to just not say anything at all when I am married to a man? When I first started coming out in a professional context in my early twenties, I simply identified as a lesbian. The label bisexual is often treated either flippantly or with suspicion. But, several years into my first job, I had a serious relationship with a man. I had to come out once again, but this time as a bisexual! It was actually even harder to come out the second time, because at this point, my coworkers and mentors had known me for years as a lesbian. I even had senior executives who were gay invested in my career because of my identity as a lesbian, and I felt as if I would disappoint them by being with a man. Even my mother didn’t quite understand my sexuality. Concerned that I was not being true to myself, she told me, “If you like women, you should marry a woman, you don’t have to please me or society, I just want you to be happy.”
I am now happily married to a man, but I still feel it is important for me to be out as a bisexual woman. It is important for bisexual individuals to maintain this identity, because identifying as straight or gay ignores the totality of our romantic experiences. And with that, I come out once again, proudly, as bisexual.
I have never lived a day as happily as the day I accepted myself
The day after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, I asked my mom what she thought about it. I told her that she should be happy because it means I can get married one day. She cried a bit. But not for long. It didn’t start easily, but 3 months later, they were ready to meet my boyfriend and make him part of the family. From there it has been coming out every day to different people, but it makes me happiest to be myself and not a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
My Son’s Coming Out Story
Juliao [left] at age 16 and I [right] at his high school fashion show.
I love telling this story—my son Juliao came out to me at age six.
We had just moved to Santa Monica. Being new to the area, I set out to make new connections on the then popular platform MySpace. One day, a friend named Luna came over to hang out. We were chatting in Juliao’s bedroom while he was playing with his rather large collection of My Little Ponies. I mentioned to Luna that I found it remarkable that most of the folks I had reached out to over the social media platform were gay. I elaborated that they were the most interesting and the best looking.
Juliao chimed in, “I’m gay” in a very matter of fact way, shrugging his shoulders. Luna and I turned to him, amazed. Luna replied, “How do you know, Juliao? What does that mean?” Juliao quickly answered, “When two boys love each other.” [Like duh.]
We didn’t make a “big enchilada” of his revelation, though inside I was beaming. I was extremely proud that he could articulate a part of his identity so clearly and fearlessly.
“I feel it’s important I tell you that I was recently dating a guy.”
I was 24 years old when I first fell in love with a man. Before I met him, I actually thought I was dating men as part of an experimental phase in life. My boyfriend went to school in New York and I lived in Boston, so I’d sneak away on weekends to visit him and lie to my family and friends about where I was and what I was doing. After we broke up, I knew I needed to come out to my friends and family. I hated that I had been lying to them and to myself.
It took me a couple weeks to work up the courage to send my mother, father, and brother an email, sharing what was going on. I concluded the email with, “I can’t really predict how you’ll take this, so I’ll probably be avoiding you for a while. Send me an email when you can to let me know when it’s not awkward to talk to you.”
My family welcomed the news swiftly with warmth and support. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful, loving family.
Resources for living openly
To find resources about living openly, visit the Human Rights Campaign’s Coming Out Center. I hope you’ll be true to yourselves and always be loud and proud.
To read more about Proudflare and why Cloudflare cares about inclusion in the workplace, read Proudflare’s pride blog post.