Coming out is a life-changing moment. Whether it's telling your parents for the first time that you're lesbian or telling a new group of friends that you identify as a non-binary, trans-femme, or gay—the moment can an empowering step forward into authenticity and living your life for yourself. For many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, coming out is not just a one-time announcement, but a lifelong journey of coming out again and again and re-empowering our identities each time.
This year on October 11th, we're celebrating the 33rd anniversary of National Coming Out Day, which was inspired by the March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights in 1987. Of course we know that not everyone has a positive experience with coming out while we still live in a society ripe with homophobia, transphobia, and a general lack of compassion for marginalized identities. This is why coming out day still matters. Our stories can help others feel less alone and encourage them to share their truth with the people around them.
On this day, the team here at FOLX share their coming out stories to celebrate our lives and how far we've come. Read below for an intimate glimpse into the lives of some of the people who help create this brand.
Rocco, VP of Marketing
"The first time I came out was at age 14. My twin sister had already named to me that she and her boyfriend assumed I was gay. When face to face with that proclamation I exclaimed, “that’s disgusting! How dare you accuse me of that!” Six months later tears streaming, I announced my girlfriend to my mom. Shaky and unsure, as she drove me home from my girlfriend’s house, I told her I needed to share something important and I wasn’t sure how she would take it. I steadied my voice and told her “I’m gay and Alexis isn’t my best friend, she’s my girlfriend.” At this point, I was sobbing and she calmly let out a laugh, “Oh honey, I already knew.” It sort of made everything anticlimactic, but for that, I was grateful.
The second time I came out was when I told my parents I’d discovered that trans men existed and I was one. This was 21 years ago, so the relative dark ages. I was a musician at the time and on a cross-country, month-long tour. I called from a payphone in an Arizona gas station. “I met someone last night and I need to talk to you and dad about something serious.” I’d met a trans man for the first time in my life. I was horrified and exuberant about the discovery of possibility, crashing into the inevitable challenges and loss I knew I’d experience heading down this path. I had never been able to imagine a future until I met that man. There was no social media or positive media representation for us at that point in history. As such, I vowed that as I set out on this path, to make sure I always made myself visible and created paths for others to be able to imagine a future."
"Though my parents were very loving and fairly liberal, the occasional gay joke definitely made me wish I wasn’t having these feelings that were inside of me. I told myself I would take it to the grave, and my parents would never know. I even found a little boyfriend in high school that was supposed to be my permanent mask. After 5 months, I broke up with him soon after my 16th birthday, due to uncontrollable discomfort. Time kept passing and my discomfort that I thought would disappear with the relationship only grew. Being gay was something that wouldn't be as easy to keep down as I thought it was. I felt like it was even falling out of my mouth every time I spoke. So for weeks I barely spoke to my parents. My dad thought it was just rebelliousness. My mom knew it was depression. No matter the reason, they collectively decided to let me sit where I was at until I fell out. Eventually one night at dinner, I laid my head at the table and covered my face out of embarrassment. My mom asked what was wrong. I replied, 'I feel bad.'
'Because I’m gay.'
I heard a long silence and my African father took a deep breath. He cleared his throat and responded…
'Well gay people need to do the dishes too, so when you’re finished clean them.'"
Herald Alvarez, Director of Growth Product
"When I think about my coming out experience, it is immediately challenged with many memories. The statement 'coming out' creates warm, positive, and empowering energy for me. It reminds me of a variety of actions I made to welcome, respect, and love myself. It reminds me of my younger brother telling me while on a bus ride home and receiving the weirdest facial expressions after I started happy-screaming. It reminds me of my fiancé and the experiences with his family, friends, and himself. It reminds me of conversations with heterosexual friends and strangers about their sexual attraction to the same-sex, but not ready for broader discussions. Coming out is a forever thing -- I believe we all experience moments that start the quest for self-discovery that challenge the version we think we are. Cheers to change that encourages and celebrates self-love "
Drian Juarez, VP of Training & Culture
Nathan Levitt, Nurse Practitioner