1. Mani, 35, gay All photos by Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed "My sexuality mattered a lot when I was 19 because being of Indian background, I knew my parents wanted me to get married. And being the eldest of three boys, they wanted me to carry on the family name. I had to actually tell them I’m gay and I’m not gonna carry on the family name in that respect." 2. John, 48, gay "I met a younger person when I was 26. I hadn't really come out as gay then, but I saw that he was being taken advantage of. I said to him, ‘listen, you gotta be strong in yourself and be comfortable.' That actually helped me come out. It mattered that I told him I was gay." 3. Jono, 18, bisexual and gender fluid "I was still at school when I was first coming to terms with my sexuality. I realised there was a problem with how topics of sexuality and gender [were] being discussed. At that moment I realised I needed to be as open as possible so more people can learn about the LGBT community." 4. Sage, 23, queer "I realised my sexuality mattered when I was 14 and I met my first partner, a female. We were at a queer rights rally and I saw how much the queer community needed a lot of support." 5. Janet, 56, bisexual "I was happily married and it was 16 years into my marriage when my partner told me that she was transgendered. That was a bit of a shock. We then went through a transition period of Penny working out that she was gonna transition and that she was gonna be Penny. During that time, we were out dancing and I looked at Penny and I thought ‘I really still love her and gee, I think she’s attractive’. It was this realisation that we could continue to be married, that we still loved each other and that we were gonna be happily married ever after." 6. Nicky, 29, lesbian "When I was in Year 12, I was at the shops with a girl who's Persian and very religious. We were friends previously, but suddenly she cut me dead. She said, ‘You know there’s a reason why I can’t talk to you’, and walked away. I just stood there flummoxed. That’s when I realised that just being out or not wasn't really the thing, but saying that I was a lesbian to people suddenly meant some people will cut me off or some people will be my friends." 7. Oliver, 18, gay "The first time I realised it mattered was last year when I went to the mardi gras parade for the first time. I grew up in Canberra which has a great queer community but not really huge pride events like Mardi Gras. I saw hundreds and thousands of people celebrating their identity and realised there is a community that genuinely cares. I got really emotional standing there as a little 17-year-old. I didn’t know anyone but I felt at home." 8. Thomas, 22, gay "I was in a very privileged position where I could’ve come out earlier but I was waiting until I was truly comfortable with my identity before I did. I've been open about my sexuality for three and a half years now." 9. Joe, 21, gay "I think the first time was when I started college, I thought that coming out to myself and being true to myself really matters." 10. Sam, 24, transgender "The first time my sexuality mattered was when I saw the statistics. I knew I needed to be open about this so other people can come to terms with their sexuality and realise that there are other people out there that are going through the same thing." 11. Sinead, 22, bisexual and cisgender woman All photos by Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed "I was about 14 when I first came out as bisexual. People had this idea that being bisexual means you have a lot of sex. I think that was the first time I was slightly concerned about making friends and whether people would accept me for who I was." 12. Brittany, 21, lesbian "Openness really became an issue for me when I realised that my mental and physical health were being threatened... by myself. That was the point when I needed to turn things around and come out of the closet and really be open because my happiness wasn’t what I thought it was." 13. Laura, 21, straight, and Lisa, 46, lesbian Lisa: "When I fell in love with my wife about four-and-a-half years ago." Laura: "I haven't had the same experience being straight, but when my mum first came out to me, I was very confused. Often you find that it’s the children that are coming out. So having the reverse happen to me and knowing that my whole life my mum has always been a straight female and in a relationship with my father, it was a completely different scenario. At first it was really difficult to process. But now I know that love is love and I will love my mum no matter what and I will love whoever she loves. That’s the most important thing." 14. Meaghan, 27, asexual "Being panromantic, I found the sexual aspect wasn’t my thing. I had past relationships and they were just disastrous. My family would ask ‘When are you gonna get a relationship?’, but truth be told I was just never interested." 15. Matthew, 25, gay "I fell in love. I was young, I was 18. I met a guy and we started seeing each other. And that was when I knew I had to tell my family. I was ready." 16. Ryan, 25, gay "I wasn’t out to to my workmates and friends yet, and I felt they had very different views of what a gay man is. So I wanted to shake that. I didn’t want people to see every gay man as this cookie cutter idea. I wanted them to see me for me and to feel accepted." 17. Joyce, 19, bisexual "As soon as I found out that I liked a girl, I was like ‘OK. This is me’." 18. William, 39, gay "It was back in 1995 at a pride march in London. It was a huge parade. People were very colourful, wearing different outfits. And I thought 'I wanna be a part of that'. Back then, I was still an outsider. It wasn’t until 1999 when I joined a gay youth group that I realised I was among people my own age. I don’t think I particularly came out but it was the first time I made a point of acknowledging it publicly." 19. Ivana, 21, pansexual "I believe that vulnerability is important because it allowed me to learn how to love and be loved, be genuine and have the freedom to be who I wanna be." 20. Sean, 30, bear... or a cub (he's still figuring it out!) "It was at my first march at the Mardi Gras when I realised how much my sexuality mattered to me. It was very invigorating and opening. It felt very good to know you mattered in the community." 21. Mimi, 18, lesbian "The first time I realised my sexuality mattered was when I was in Grade 12 and I heard about two girls who were placed in separate classes because they were in a gay relationship. I hadn't come out at this point but I was so angry so I came out in front of all of my friends and said to them, ‘This is not OK. I should be able to love who I love'." 22. Jett, 19, lesbian "I was 16 when I was very aware about some of the issues regarding some young adults coming out and some of the statistics on mental health. That was when I said to myself ‘I’m not gonna be quiet, I’m gonna shout from the rooftops’." 23. Jerry, 24, gay "When I started to accept myself and told my friends about it, I learned that most of my friends were accepting of that, and that’s all that really mattered. Any negative outcomes from other people didn’t really matter because I had people who’s acceptance made me feel comfortable." 24. Evan, 47, gay "I’m not really sure whether it was when my mum came out when I was 12, or when I came out when I was 14. But it was all good fun." 25. Skyler, 15, gender fluid, androromantic*, asexual "I first realised that I liked guys quite a while ago but I thought it’d be better if I kept it to myself. That ended horribly. I spiralled into depression and secluded myself from everyone. Then I realised that I should just be open about it."*meaning: romantically attracted to men or masculine people. 26. Carmen, 23, lesbian "I was dating someone for two years and I told her that I didn't want to be a secret forever. So she broke up with me. And I thought, ‘Fuck it’. I told my parents because I didn’t want it to be a secret anymore." 27. Darby, "I'm not telling you my age", and "I've been many things over the years. But right now I identify as 'happy'." "I went to a Catholic school so I learned it mattered very, very early on. I saw somebody in the year above me get beaten by the cane because they said they were gay." 28. Jackson, 23, gay "I think I was 15 when it hit me. I couldn’t hide anymore. I knew I wasn’t being my authentic self if I hid it." 29. Karis, 28, bisexual "I had been running my bisexual women’s group and one of the women who had come to that meet-up a few times told me that she was coming out to her parents as bisexual for the first time thanks to our group. That’s when I realised that my bisexuality was imperative to helping other women feel comfortable about their bisexuality." 30. Benjamin, 19, gay "I realised my sexuality mattered when I became school leader at my school and I had kids come to me with their problems and ask about being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Being visible, you don’t always realise who you’re helping. I just wanted to be there to show them that it’s OK to be who you are and to love yourself no matter who that person is." 31. Sia Tequila, 21, male "It started to matter because nowadays we all have to be labelled, unfortunately, but that’s what it is. When I identify as gay, it easier for people to understand." 32. Troy, 29, gay "When I got my first permanent job in England, that’s when I realised it’s gonna have a real big impact - me being myself, being a good representation for students, not just LGBT but for any student who doesn’t realise the importance of being yourself. " 33. Odette, 39, lesbian "I moved out of home when.. I was 17 and I wasn’t allowed to be open and honest with who I am. I come from a very Christian and South African background." 34. Laura, 21, bisexual "I realised my sexuality mattered when it saddened me everyday that I wouldn’t be able to choose who I wanted to be with because I was too scared and that there might be other people thinking the same way that I did." 35. Ciaran, 18, pansexual "I was at a bowling alley with a guy once. I gave him a little kiss just to encourage him and to pump him up. Then a dad in the lane next to us was like ‘Hey, can you not do that?’ and we said ‘Why not? You kiss your wife, fine’. It escalated to him telling us we’re all wrong, we’re disgusting and we’re gonna make his kids gay, adding ‘What if they wanna try that now?’. I knew then that I won’t be surrounding myself with people like that dad." 36. Emily, 44, lesbian "I was a member of my rowing club at my uni when I was coming out, but I was struggling with it a bit. Someone came up to me and threatened to out me. But the vice-president of the club was really helpful. She said ‘If you’re having trouble with it, I’m gonna ring my brother. He’s the head of the gay men’s club at Sydney Uni.’ From then on, doors started opening for me. It was a really affirming experience. I look like a dyke, I am a dyke and I’m proud to be a dyke. If someone calls me a dyke, I'd say, ‘State the obvious, eh?’" 37. Steven, 51, gay "November 2010. It's when I came out after almost 20 years of marriage to a woman." 38. Jaden, 18, pansexual and non-binary "I only recently came out to my parents. My gender has always been a little bit difficult because being trans is a lot more misunderstood. It’s been very important to me but it's been very hard to talk about. Coming out to my parents was probably one of the hardest things I ever did, but one of the most freeing." 39. Sy, 22, lesbian "I was 14-years-old when I started coming out to my friends and within that circle one of my friends came out as well. She started getting bullied for it, whereas I hadn’t experienced that before. I realised then that coming out and having a positive influence will make it more acceptable in the school grounds." 40. Jack, 26, gay "When I came out to my dad was the first time I felt like it was OK to be yourself. It was very empowering. Admitting it to yourself is the first step into becoming who you’re meant to be." 41. George, 19, bisexual "After a year of proper thinking, I came out to my friends. I’m one of those people who takes too bloody long to think. Those friends were definitely on the rainbow so I thought they’d be the best people to talk about it. I felt a lot better after." 42. C Moore, 60+, "I identify as a person" "It was when I told my mother and father that my sexuality mattered. I had brought a woman with me because that’s who I was with at the time. They turned around and said ‘You know, that’s just a phase you’re going through’. I was 30-years-old then." 43. Jennifer, 22, bisexual "I realised two years ago. I was in a relationship with a guy and I felt like it was not ‘normal’. It made sense when I figured I was attracted to women." 44. Yuli, 23, lesbian "It was when I left for college and my mum would call me and say homophobic stuff and it didn’t rub well with me. She’d say, ‘Oh, I don’t hate gays or anything’, but still make those comments. At the time, I was already questioning my sexuality. I'd tell my mum 'Can you not say that, as a lesbian… supporter?’ I ended up being pushed out of the closet by my mum. I thought if I didn't speak up who else will?" 45. Margaret, 21, pansexual "When I was a teenager, I was part of a church that was very homophobic. A lot of those years were spent being very secretive, being very hidden and not wanting to be myself. I think the first time I came out, I just sort of put it out there. My friends were just completely accepting. It’s just so freeing." 46. Shazy, 33, gay "I was 25 and I had a girlfriend that time but I was always curious. I thought ‘It's time for me to be myself’, so I decided to step back from the relationship. I told the girl how I was feeling and she was very supportive." 47. Lisa, 26, lesbian "It mattered when my father came back into my life and I told him I was gay. He simply told me it didn't matter, as long as I'm his daughter and I'm back." 48. Leighton, 28, gay "It was important to me when I realised that the key to my happiness is wanting not to hide from my friends and family anymore." 49. Allison, 40, lesbian "When guys stopped asking me out."