We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what helped them most when they came out, and here's what they shared.
1. Being gay does not define me
"One of the best things that helped me through coming out was something a senior said at my first GSA (gay-straight alliance) meeting. He said, 'Being gay is a part of me, but it doesn't define who I am.' That gave me peace of mind and helped me tell others that I was the same exact person I always was."
2. A little help from my friends
"I came out to a few of my friends my senior year of high school, and I could not be more grateful to them. It wasn't until college that I came out to my parents — and that's when things didn't go so well. If I didn't have the support of my friends, I don't know what I would've done. None of them are gay, but they loved me just the same as they always had. Five years later, things are better with my parents, but it was hell for a long time. With the help of others, I've really come a long way, and thankfully, so have they. I never thought things would get better, but they did, and I'm VERY lucky to be able to say that."
3. Sister, sister
"One of the most supportive and helpful people to me was my younger sister. She was and is always willing to fight unaccepting people when I start getting too panicky in bad situations, and she doesn't treat my gayness as something that is alienating. She jokes about it as often as I do, but she is always considerate of when things make me uncomfortable. The unconditional love she has for me (even when we fight) gave me confidence to come out to people around me."
4. It's NBD
"I was expecting this huge reaction from my mother, and when I told her she simply replied, 'Oh honey, I know! I was just waiting for you to tell me. I love you so much.' I literally felt reborn. Walked a little taller after that for sure."
5. Everything's out of the closet
"I just walked out of the storage closest holding a frying pan and told my mom, 'Hey, I guess the pans and the boy are out of the closet now.' She just sorta blinked at me."
6. Love yourself
"I first came out to my best friend a few years before I even thought about coming out to anyone else, and she was so supportive and amazing. It really helped to know she would always be there for me no matter what. Having a great support system of friends, my sister, and a few others has helped immensely. Don't feel pressured to come out. No one is entitled to know anything you aren't comfortable telling them. But most importantly, you have to learn to love yourself through all of it because 'coming out' to yourself and being comfortable with your own identity is the most important thing!"
7. Mothers can surprise you
"After weeks of contemplation, I nervously and somewhat awkwardly came out to my mom as bisexual. She gave me a weird look, laughed, and said, 'Really? Me too!'"
8. Spill the beans (or crayons)
"I got a bag of crayons and spelled 'I'm pansexual' with them, then used the rest to make it look like someone had spilled them. It was a scary moment to send a pic of that to my parents, but I'm proud I did."
9. You're never alone
"The thing that helped me most when coming out was immersing myself in books and fandoms, knowing that there was a group of people that had the same interests and thoughts as me. Knowing that these groups didn't care if I was bi was amazing. And throwing myself into the wonderful world of literature and finding and growing with the characters I read about calmed me to the point where I was completely at ease with my life. This experience made coming out to my friends and family so much easier."
10. Girls like girls
"My best friend helped me most because we both came out in eighth grade. For months, we asked each other questions like, 'Is it normal to think about making out with girls?' — to which the other would answer, 'Totally. I think about making out with girls sometimes too!' Until one day we realized we weren't straight. It was a difficult time for me, but she got me through it. She's still my best friend four years later."
11. Surround yourself with community support
"When I came out as nonbinary, what helped me a lot was going to my school's GSA and meeting other LGBTQ people. It was kind of about learning more and being more active in the community, but the biggest help was finding a place where I knew I would be respected. My advice is to find that place, to find people who will truly, genuinely accept you."
12. Teachers rule
"When I came out to my most trusted college professor, he immediately handed me a copy of Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir Fun Home. The book shows characters at different stages in life struggling with their sexuality and the decision to come out. It helped me to understand that, in the middle of all the anxiety and confusion and hard times, it's still possible to find ways to laugh and to find people who can serve as a wonderful support system. Last year, I had the opportunity to meet Bechdel, and she was hands down one of the most down-to-earth, intelligent people I've ever spoken to. It made the experience of connecting with her book even stronger and more important for me."
13. Be true to yourself
"Before I even thought about the daunting task of coming out to my family, what helped me most was coming out to myself. I would literally stand in front of the mirror and say, 'Marcie, you are a lesbian. You're still the same person. Everything will be just fine.' And between laughter and tears running down my face I'd say, 'One thing at a time.'"
14. Conquering your fears can bring you joy
"Trying to come out to my family was terrifying until one day I had no choice. Losing sleep, stressing myself out, and hiding my girlfriend became too much. So I finally found my courage to tell my family, and to my relief, everyone accepted me. Fifteen years later, I'm with the woman who makes my heart melt, my family loves her, and we're getting married next year. Fear of being rejected would've made me miss this. Glad I didn't let it."
"My dad looked at me and said, 'Really?', then shrugged and continued to eat his cereal."
All images via Getty.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.