So many people had incredible coming-out stories this year that it gives me hope for future LGBT kids of the world. These are the most incredible (and occasionally slightly depressing) coming-out stories from 2015.
1. The high school valedictorian who was banned from coming out in his speech.
When Evan Young’s Colorado high school found out he was planning on coming out in his valedictorian speech, they asked him to remove any references to him being gay in the speech. When Young refused, they decided to call his parents and tell them their son (who they had no idea was gay) was going to come out in the speech. To make matters worse, the school ultimately refused to acknowledge Young as the valedictorian during the ceremony. This story does have a happy ending though, since a local LGBT advocacy group held an event that allowed Evan deliver his full speech at a private home soon after. Plus, he’s currently at Rutgers University on scholarship, so bye, haters.
2. The girl who accidentally came out to her family by making a simple joke.
A 16-year-old girl named Katie posted a story about accidentally coming out to her family on Tumblr, which was quickly went viral after it was reposted to Imgur. The screenshot of the text she sent to a friend read, ‘I may have just accidentally came out to my entire family in the worst way possible. My grandma was saying how gays are going to hell and I didn’t want to deal with it so I started to leave. My cousin asked where I was going. “Hell apparently.” What have I done.’ After the photo went viral, Katie posted an update on her Tumblr letting people know what happened after she made the joke seen ’round the world. She says her grandma said something like, ‘How could you let your daughter become a queer?’ and her other relatives yelled at her grandma for saying that. Fortunately, her mum eventually told her she supported her no matter what and her grandma apologised for how she’d behaved. Plus, Katie says she’s ‘still invited to christmas’ so it appears to have worked out semi-well.
3. The girl who filmed her mum reenacting how she really felt when her daughter came out.
A 22-year-old named Bri posted a video of her mum reenacting her reaction to her coming out on her Tumblr with the accompanying caption: ‘My mum says this was how it was when I came out. I love her. She’s a minister everyone. Religion shouldn’t involve hate.’ The video is so hilarious and heartwarming that it makes me lose my shit when I watch it, which I do from time to time because it’s incredible. Her mum talks about Bri’s coming out like she’d known all along and couldn’t have cared less. ‘Is that the announcement?’ she asked as she knocks on a closet door. ‘Because for us, it was like, [opens the door] are you coming out? No, not yet? All right. Every now and then it’s like, [knocks] you ready? Oh, OK, well let us know when you’re coming out!’ Why is her mum not all of our mums?
4. The guy who came out as transgender to his college classmates via a school presentation.
YouTube user Benton Sorensen, who previously detailed his female-to-male transition on the site, decided to use a college course presentation on ‘inspiration’ to come out to his classmates. Sorensen said he was scared to tell the class he was originally born female, but he felt if he was going to talk about inspiration, he needed to tell his classmates about his experiences with his gender. Watching him go from visibly nervous to ‘thank god I finally did it’ in the video is seriously tremendous, and you should watch it at once.
5. The 13-year-old boy who posted a video of him telling his classmates he was transitioning.
Tom Sosnik, a 13-year-old transgender boy, posted a video of himself on YouTube of him telling his classmates he was transitioning. In the video, he says he was inspired by Leelah Alcorn, the 17-year-old transgender girl who took her life in December 2014 after her family refused to acknowledge her as a girl when she transitioned. In the video, Tom beautifully explains his struggles with his gender identity and says he ‘pretended to be content with what I was assigned until, at a certain point, I broke.’ He also tells his classmates that he knows it’s difficult for them to hear this news since they all knew him previously as a girl but hoped they would treat him with respect. At the end of the video, Tom begins to cry and I’m guessing anyone else watching the video quickly joins him in that.
6. The world champion body builder who came out as transgender on Instagram.
Janae Marie Kroc, who was formerly known to the world as record-holding bodybuilding star Matt Kroc, came out as transgender via Instagram in an effort to explain the feminine-presenting photos she’d been posting over the last year. Kroc issued a statement in a photo caption saying that she hadn’t fully transitioned and was still ‘living life in both genders,’ as she wanted to wait until her sons were out of high school before moving forward. Kroc added that it was her decision to wait, as she says her sons are incredible and the bond they have is ‘unreal.’ That’s a lucky family.
7. The 26-year-old YouTube star who posted a 19-minute long video coming out as gay.
YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen, aka missglamorazzi, came out as gay in a powerful 19-minute video posted on her YouTube channel. Nilsen talked about all the stages she went through in realising she was gay and talks about how she told her previously very serious boyfriend the news. Since then, she’s been confirmed as dating fellow YouTube star Hannah Hart, which is perhaps the best ending to this story possible.
8. The twin brothers who both came out to their dad on speakerphone.
YouTubers and twins Austin and Aaron Rhodes came out to all their other family members first, but saved their father for last since they were most afraid of telling him. With their father on speakerphone and the camera rolling, Austin tearfully tells his dad, ‘I just want to be able to have you behind us 100 percent, and I just don’t want you to not love us anymore or something like that.’ Though their dad isn’t thrilled, he tells them, ‘You know I love you both, that’ll never change.’ Both of them look visibly relieved at the end and tell their viewers, ‘We want our message to be just to be yourself,’ which is easy to hear from two people who risked a lot to do just that.
9. The woman who photographed her coming out to her family.
London photographer Paola Paredes says she knew from a very young age that she was gay but never imagined she’d be able to come out to her family in Ecuador. However, once she realised she could make her coming out to her family an artistic photo series, she had the courage to do it. She told her family she was working on a project about family and would come visit them in Ecuador for a month, and the project would end with a conversation about something. Her parents agreed and when it was time for her to tell them she was gay, she set up three cameras around a living room table to snap pictures every few seconds as she spoke, called her family together, and told them. Paredes says there was ‘nothing but love’ when she told them, and she also received emails from another young Ecuadorian girl who thanked her for releasing the photo series. They’re definitely the best kind of family photos.
10. Caitlyn Jenner
Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out as a transgender woman named Caitlyn to Diane Sawyer rocked the world in so many ways that it’d be impossible to leave her off this list. In the interview, Caitlyn says she used to try on her sister’s dresses and her mother’s scarves when she was 8 years old. She also said she began transitioning in the ’80s but stopped because she feared the ‘public spectacle.’ Caitlyn said she decided to come out now because she felt that bringing attention to transgender issues is ‘why God put me on this earth’ and hoped that doing so would save some lives. I have no doubt that it already has.