For many #LGBTQ+ people, coming out of the closet gives them the chance to express themselves in their most authentic way. It gives them a sense of freedom and an opportunity to face the world as their real selves. This photo story by Photo Editor Amanda Stayer celebrates queer #self-expression and individuality.
Elliot Burr – They/Them
“I think it was mostly like a sense of relief at that point, because I feel I wasn’t really hiding it before I came out …
In the past, there were some instances where stuff would happen that kind of made it seem I almost outed myself … and I was like, ‘oh no, don’t want that to happen,’ but now I’m like, ‘just let it happen.’”
Autumn Pritchard – She/Her
“I never necessarily had a moment of coming out. … I was always the ‘straight friend’ when I was growing up, and it took me until my senior year of high school to fully embrace who I was, exploring so many different sexualities and trying to figure out who I was. Because for me, it was really a confusing experience to figure out who I was. I went through thinking I was maybe bisexual to identifying as homoflexible.
I feel like being able to finally find my identity let me creatively express myself in ways that I hadn’t even thought of before and be proud of who I was instead of being confused all the time. I was finally able to take a stand on who I was, and I am still going through the journey right now, trying to figure out who I am. Last year, I was a part of Flashes of Pride … and it’s only been a year, but I feel like that’s the old me, and now I’m excited to take part of this and express the new me – the me that’s really me.”
Kayla Whitacre – She/Her
“For me, it was really hard coming out because I went to a Catholic school, and that was really hard because my mom was Catholic and was really trying to get back to her faith … I was kind of scared, because for a very long time, it was just me and her, and then my stepdad came in, and I didn’t know how to talk to her about it … I knew she was very accepting, but I didn’t know if she would be accepting towards me. Then, my freshman year of college, I came out to her after a very long discussion with my roommate. She was like, ‘you have to do it, you’ve been wanting to do it.’ So I just did it.
She was confused at first, but over time, she accepted it, and she said she would fight for me if anyone said anything. I guess it has just expressed my style because I cuff my pants more, and I learned to express myself through fashion and through the way I look, because before — in Catholic school — I felt I had to look a certain way. But now that I’m here in college, and I don’t really care, I wear whatever I want and wear my makeup however I want, and that’s what coming out has really done for me.”
Isabella “Zaz” Alvarino – She/Her
“By coming out, I was able to reveal a more sincere part of me to my friends, family, and peers. By allowing myself to be more open about my sexuality, I, in turn, was able to allow myself to fully embrace myself and accept my differences with others in society. Luckily, I was faced with positivity and support from my family and friends, who then encouraged me to be the confident woman I am today.
I don’t think I would be where I am if it wasn’t for the encouragement from my parents, who have always supported my dreams and regularly tell me to do what makes me happy. I have become a more honest person, and don’t feel the need to restrain any part of myself.”