Coming out as LGBT can be terrifying and joyous. Sometimes both at the same time. It can also be the single-most important thing a gay person can do — for him or herself, and for the community.

“Coming out videos“ are a popular staple on YouTube, some posted by kids as young as 12 to 16. This is amazing to me! Coming out was unimaginable to me at that age. It took me until age 22. Things have moved light years ahead since my youth, yet it can still be very difficult and scary to come out. This is abundantly clear watching these videos, some capturing the actual moment with all its fear and anxiety.

Concealing one's identity can be horribly painful, magnified many times over if you think there's a chance your family will reject you — the people you love and need the most. Many youth still struggle today with self-acceptance, rejection by family, bullying and worse. Estimates vary widely, but as many as 40% of homeless youth on the street may be LGBT. Some were thrown out while others left on their own to escape hostility or physical and emotional violence. LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than the average teenager. LGBT youth rejected by their families are 9 times more likely to commit suicide — nine times!

Coming out is an incredibly important and powerful act — but only when you're ready, of course. Not before. Millions of people have done so, and there's no question these individual acts of courage have unleashed a mighty power. Our increasing visibility has propelled LGBT rights forward at amazing speed. It's much harder for people to remain bigoted when they realize they're surrounded by gay people. We are your parents, children, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, teachers, pastors, doctors, coworkers, bosses — potentially anyone, anywhere. We are the people you love, cherish and respect. And yes, sometimes we’re the ones that annoy and piss you off! That jerk that cut you off yesterday? ... Could be!

It‘s not really known how many gay people there are. Most credible estimates range from about 5% to 10% of the population. My gut instincts tell me it's higher — 15% at least — because the official estimates depend on people self-disclosing their attractions and experiences. For many it‘s still very difficult to acknowledge this, even to themselves. Someone that conflicted and closeted is unlikely to tell a researcher or pollster, no matter how confidential.

But let‘s go with the official high-end estimate of 10%. That‘s about 32 million people in the United States — greater than the population of any single state except California.

This page is devoted to people's individual stories about being LGBT and coming out. In a few cases, we see their actual coming out captured live on video. This is the age of YouTube and social media! Sometime soon I'll write about my own coming out. I'll post it to my blog with a link here.

In 1988, October 11th was designated as ‘National Coming Out Day’ each year. The video below was produced by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to celebrate this year's National Coming Out Day (2016).

George Takei
Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series.

Jane Lynch
Sue Sylvester in Glee.

Rosie O’Donnell
Currently playing Rita Hendricks on The Fosters.

Jason Collins
First openly gay NBA basketball player. He played 13 seasons, finishing out with the Brooklyn Nets.

Richard Socarides
Son of Dr. Charles Socarides, a founder of Conversion Therapy which asserted that homosexuality was a mental illness that could be cured or corrected through psychotherapy.

Brian Hartigan
Most people talk about coming out to their parents. Here is one man’s experience coming out to his two children after former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey came out in 2004.

Ellen Degeneres
In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres and her character came out in the “Puppy Episode” of her sitcom, Ellen.

The Rhodes Brothers
Twin brothers, both gay, are YouTube vloggers.

MarkE Miller
A popular vlogger on YouTube along with his boyfriend, Ethan Hethcote.

Andy Goodling
Finally, this video looks at NOT coming out and the opportunities lost by staying in the closet.

Scott Blair
Law student sent to Ex-Gay Therapy.

Robbie Rogers
Professional soccer player with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Michael Sam
Professional football player. Came out in 2013. Played with the St. Louis Rams and the Montreal Alouettes.

Daniel Katsoulis
Coming out to his mother, captured live on video.

Troye Sivan
Singer-songwriter from Australia and wildly-popular YouTuber with almost 7 million subscribers. Here he comes out to his fans.

A Soldier in Germany
Coming out by phone to his father in Alabama, captured live on video.

Coming Out Compilations & Documentaries

Individual Coming Out Stories

Jesse Duke
Coming out to his sister, captured live on video.

It Gets Better
In September 2010 author, journalist and gay activist, Dan Savage posted this video to YouTube with his husband, Terry Miller, and together they started a movement: the It Gets Better Project. Dan and Terry told their stories of hardship and struggle through high school and youth — and how they grew up, escaped bullies and tormenters, and found that life was good. They found they could be happy, all while being openly gay. Savage was inspired and motivated to this project by the suicide of a 15-year-old Indiana boy, Billy Lucas. Billy hanged himself after relentless bullying for being gay — and no one knows if he actually was gay. But it doesn't matter. He was treated as if he was. Savage wrote in his blog,

I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren't allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don't bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don't have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.

And with that, a YouTube channel was born to do just that — talk directly to the kids and let them know that it gets better. Hundreds of videos have been posted there. Check it out.

Background: / latex

Image: / Serenethos

Don Lemon
News Anchor at CNN.

Ian McKellen
Acclaimed British actor, Ian McKellen, is interviewed here by Anderson Cooper who has come out as well. McKellen stars as a gay man in Vicious on PBS. Other credits include Dr. Who, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, Richard III, Six Degrees of Separation, and many, many more.

Coming Out
A Film by Alden Peters
A new film about coming out has been released. As the film's website describes:

Coming Out follows young filmmaker Alden Peters on his journey coming out gay, capturing everything on camera as it happens. This groundbreaking coming of age film places viewers directly inside the raw, intimate moments when Alden reveals his true identity to his family and friends, ranging from the painfully awkward to the hilariously honest. A story bridging generations and societal divides, this award-winning documentary makes us rethink what it means to live an honest life, ultimately leading us to a place of understanding and acceptance of oneself and one’s community.

Coming Out is now available on DVD, at iTunes and for viewing on demand at Vimeo.

Finally, to cap off this collection of videos, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles performs a beautiful rendition of "True Colors" with their families and friends.

Taylor Robbins
This YouTube vlogger talks about the problem of internal rejection and coming out. Taylor couldn't accept himself and struggled for years with thoughts of suicide — "these thoughts" as he refers to them through most of this video. He talks about that struggle and how he ultimately overcame it. "Have faith that where you were got you where you are" he says, "and where you are can get you where you're going. Past, present and future." Continuing, he says "Have faith in yourself. Things will get better."

Aaron Rhodes subsequently produced this video for Coming Out Day 2016.

Troye Sivan released this video, Heaven, on January 19, 2017. He wrote on YouTube, "we have always been here. we will always be here. this video is dedicated to all who’ve come before me and fought for our cause and those who now continue the fight. in dark and light times, let’s love forever. love, troye x"

And they do get better! This next video is Taylor again describing a very different and better space. He offers guidance on coming out, addressing the pain and fear that can precede it, and the relief and freedom that can follow — but, only if you're ready.

Richard's father, Dr. Charles Socarides, debated the topic of gay marriage in 1974.

Coming Out Stories