Laganja Estranja, Amit Paley, and More Share Their Coming Out Wisdom

"Take it at your own pace."

For LGBTQ people, claiming space for ourselves and our passions in a cisnormative, heteronormative world is an act of revolution. That’s why Logo is continuing Claiming Space, a roundtable series where we pass the mic to a group of queer people we admire to amplify their perspectives.

In honor of National Coming Out Day today (October 11), Logo asked six inspiring LGBTQ artists and activists — from RuPaul’s Drag Race icon Laganja Estranja to The Trevor Project CEO and executive director Amit Paley — to share their best advice or wisdom about coming out. Find their heartfelt, wide-ranging answers below.

Alexander Fost

Laganja Estranja

Drag artist, transgender activist, and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum

“My best advice would be there’s no perfect time. I think people often wonder, oh, how will I know? And you won’t really. It will just be a feeling that guides you that you can’t keep it a secret anymore, or else you’re going to be extremely unhappy. I like to encourage people to not wait until they get to that point, but I also like to encourage people to be patient with themselves.

As someone who recently came out as trans, it’s a very freeing thing. I think there’s a lot of anxiety built around the moment, which I totally get, but it’s also good to know that once you get over that anxiety and swallow that pill, there is a brighter, lighter feeling on the other side. I think ’it gets better’ really is true. It also gets more difficult [laughs]. It’s life, you know? It’s never going to be perfect, all sunshine and rainbows, but as a community, we strive for that. We strive for that feeling of joy and knowing who you are. As someone who recently came out, I feel the joy; I feel accepted. People are changing. The societal norm of queer and trans [acceptance] is changing, I think for the better. So be brave, and be loud and proud.”

Jill Greenberg/SHOWTIME

Jacqueline Toboni

Actress and star of The L Word: Generation Q

“Take it at your own pace. Come out when you are ready. It is your journey and your life. Let self-love and self-acceptance lead the way. Try to remember this is really exciting and you should be very proud of yourself. Hell, I’m proud of you. And for all the religious kids out there — God still loves you. Whoever says different doesn’t know what they are talking about, bible quotes and all. If you don’t have a support system, find one. There are so many people ready to love you out there. And remember to love yourself because you are a beautiful soul that deserves love and acceptance and happiness.”

Mickie Vulture

Quei Tann

Actress and musician

“With the exception of my mother, everyone in my family had such a huge problem with me being queer, but they had no problem about the way they wanted to lead their lives — the children they had out of wedlock, the relationships they got into. They didn’t have to live by Puritanical ideals that I was beholden to, and I caught that extremely early on. My advice would be allow your coming out to be for you. This entire life experience is yours. It’s not for anyone else.

Even though I’m already out as a trans woman, people don’t notice, and now I have the experience of people not knowing that I’m trans. I don’t have to come out to anyone — I don’t believe that you ever have to come out to anyone — but I do come out to a lot of people in my daily life, quite a lot. From friends, sometimes to romantic partners…I decide when I want to come out to them. I’m always like, if you’re a cis gay person, you come out once or maybe a couple times to a couple of people, but if you’re trans, you come out all the time. And it definitely can be annoying because a lot of people feel like they’re entitled to you coming out to them. For anyone who comes out, nobody is entitled to that. We don’t ask cis-het people to come out; we don’t ask them to show who they love. It’s just accepted that being cis-het is normal, and they can just show up with the people they love. It doesn’t have to be a conversation. That’s what I want it to be. I’m very much like, I’m gonna be me, and if I’m going to tell someone I’m trans, I’m going to do it on my own time when I want to.”

The Trevor Project

Amit Paley

CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project

“Coming out is an intensely personal decision that should be made at one’s own pace, whenever you feel comfortable and safe. There is no right or wrong way to come out. The discourse around ’coming out’ is also evolving, as some people have reframed the conversation to be more about letting people into your life by sharing your LGBTQ identity. I think that’s empowering and helps take the burden off of LGBTQ young people in feeling that they are only valid if they announce themselves to the whole world.

Coming out can be an ongoing or even lifelong process, especially for those who are fluid in their identities. It is critical to emphasize that not all LGBTQ people may feel comfortable coming out and being visible in their identity due to a variety of circumstances, including personal safety, economic security, and a lack of access to support systems. As we’ve seen in the transgender and nonbinary community, increased representation has been met with a political backlash at the state and national levels, particularly at the expense of trans youth.

All LGBTQ youth deserve to be loved, respected, and accepted with open arms. It’s on all of us to foster the creation of a safer, more affirming world. Ideally, one day an occasion like National Coming Out Day won’t be seen as necessary or newsworthy at all because we will have achieved acceptance and liberation for all LGBTQ people.

The Trevor Project’s Coming Out Handbook is a helpful resource that covers a wide range of topics, from the basics of sexual orientation and gender identity to key questions and considerations to think about when coming out, including timing, location, available support systems, and safety planning.”

Callum Walker Hutchinson

Gia Woods

Singer-songwriter

“For me, I didn’t really talk about [being gay] with anybody. And my advice is, if there’s anyone in your life who you feel really close to — a friend or a family member that you’re really close to — it’s always nice to start talking about it with someone who you trust and feel like you can open up to. I think that’s the best starting point, but I would say there’s really no rush or perfect path to becoming open about it. It’s baby steps. Sometimes people are like, okay, I’m going to have to sit down everybody and tell everybody, but it’s like, no. You can take it step by step, person by person. I know I did it in a really dramatic way where I was like, ’Here’s a music video of me making out with girls,’ but everybody is different. … For anyone listening, try and find your community, and be open and be vulnerable. There’s no right way of doing it.”

Shorefire Media

K.Flay

Singer-songwriter

“I think my best advice about coming out is that there’s no right way to do it, and that it doesn’t have to happen all at once. To me, coming out is about feeling empowered and embodied as a queer person, and sharing that feeling with the people who care about you. It’s an assertion and an invitation. It’s saying, ’This is my honest self,’ and in that act of authenticity, welcoming new kinds of love and connection into your life.”

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