Everybody has a different journey, and National Coming Out Day celebrates the process of a person coming to terms with their sexuality. Still, no one should feel pressure to come out of the closet even on that day, biology senior David Nguyen said.
With UTA celebrating Campus Pride Month in October and National Coming Out Day falling on Monday, the LGBTQ+ community at UTA shared their coming out stories.
National Coming Out Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, is meant to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community and dedicate a time for those in the community to come out to their friends and family.
Nguyen said he knew he was gay when he was 14 years old because he felt something was missing when he dated girls, but everything clicked and felt natural when he went out with guys.
“I don’t think I ever had shame to begin with,” he said. “If there was anyone that wasn’t supportive, I would have known about it and I would have either cut ties with them, but that hasn’t happened.”
Nguyen said he came out to his best friend when he was 16.
“It just felt like I got a little weight off of my shoulders,” he said. “I was more honest with myself.”
It worked out well because he and his best friend were both gay and his high school environment in Frisco allowed him to reflect and focus on himself, he said.
Nursing sophomore Rodelynn Yamba came out as a lesbian three years ago.
“It took me a long time, like a few years, to realize that I did not like men, romantically or sexually,” Yamba said. “I didn’t like them the same way I liked women.”
Yamba said they first identified as bisexual because they initially knew they liked women and were trying to determine if they liked men.
“When I realized I came to terms with that label of being a lesbian,” they said. “There was a lot of resentment and a lot of unwanted feelings, like I didn’t want to be this way.”
They said the root of their shame comes from their religious background.
Yamba grew up Catholic in the Philippines and attended a Catholic all-girls school knowing they had no interest in boys, they said. They had been taught only a man and a woman can be in a relationship.
They first came out to their sister, Mary, because the two were like best friends, Yamba said.
“Growing up in a different country, I didn’t know many people that were as open-minded or accepting as my sister,” they said. “I always knew that she was going to accept me because we’re very similar in the way that we think.”
Nguyen said he grew up in Vietnam, which valued conservative beliefs and was not open to accepting the LGBTQ+ community, but he’s always had a good relationship with his parents and relatives.
His mother was surprised when she found out during his senior year in high school, he said. She thought he was confused at first but eventually came to terms with it, and they have a better relationship now.
He didn’t expect his dad to be supportive, but he was. Since they have a close relationship, he can’t even think of what would happen if his dad didn’t accept him, Nguyen said. He said his dad loves and accepts him, and it doesn’t matter as long as he has good morals.
“My family is in the biggest Catholic district of Vietnam,” he said. “I really didn’t expect this to happen.”
Yamba said their parents speculated and caught them hanging out with their girlfriend. It was more than platonic, so they put the pieces together.
They wanted to come out to their parents on their own terms but felt they did not have the opportunity to do so, they said.
Urban design sophomore Zinna Carey said they came out four years ago as a pansexual transgender woman as they started questioning their sexuality when they surrounded themselves with people in the LGBTQ+ community.
They came out as pansexual to their friend Annika first because she’s supportive and is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, they said. Six months later, they came out as transgender.
“Coming out as a certain sexual orientation is different compared to a gender identity,” Carey said. “People have to change how they interact with you, and people don’t like having to change things.”
They said they came out to their mom first because they live with her. While their mother was confused and felt worried for their safety because of the LGBTQ+ hate crimes around the world, she now supports and understands them, they said.
Carey said they came out to their dad a year later and cried because of his positive reaction.
Living as transgender can be difficult because changing gender makes some people feel uncomfortable, they said.
Not everyone’s coming out story is perfect, and sometimes it can be unexpected like theirs, Yamba said.
“I wanted to be my most authentic self,” Yamba said. “I didn’t want anything to hold me back, so I started to tell people.”
Coming out was empowering, but it’s not always necessary, Carey said.
Coming out felt liberating for Yamba because they didn’t have to hide anything and pretend, they said.
They said they hope to become financially independent to educate their parents about their sexuality and build a better relationship with them in the future.
“Some people never publicly come out,” Carey said. “That’s OK because maybe you just want to come out to a few friends.”
National Coming Out Day can pressure people to come out, but Carey said it also reminds them they’re not alone.
Yamba said labels can be beneficial, but if they cause harm, they shouldn’t be used. People don’t have to label themselves and should do whatever feels right for them, they said.
“At the end of the day, you’re the only one that can love yourself,” Nguyen said. “You’re the only one that’s going to be with yourself the entire journey.”