LGBTQ History #7: Melissa Etheridge Comes Out
October 9, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court building
LGBTQ History #8: First U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on LGBT Issues
October 13, 2014

Two Tagg Writers Share Their Coming Out Stories

In honor of National Coming Out Day, our writers share their stories

E. Sansing

Those in the LGBTQ community know that we don’t actually come out one time. Coming out is a regular occurrence. Whether it’s as simple as walking down the street or having that conversation with a new person, we come out on a daily basis. I am grateful that I now have that choice and I am proud to be able to make it again every day; yet, it wasn’t always that way.

E. Sansing

E. Sansing (Photo: Josette Matoto)

I knew at an early age that I was queer, though I may not have always had the words to describe myself. I was aware that I was attracted to girls and that my gender identity didn’t quite fit the prescribed ideals. The very first time that I had a coming out conversation, I was 13 and it was to my older sister who I had just met for the first time.

I don’t know why but something about her presence made me feel comfortable. Despite her growing up in Kentucky, having a Bible belt background, and not knowing her, I could feel that she would be receptive. She was and yet, I never told anyone else. Growing up in a devout Italian Catholic family myself, I knew that this thought would shatter everything that I had ever known.

Despite my sister’s acceptance, I was one of the people who tried to pray the gay away. I didn’t want to burden my mother, father, and extended family with my “burden”. They eventually found out.  The consequences of their discovery led me to counseling and an ex-gay center when I was 15 years old. My family and I struggled for years, and then on one random day it changed. I remember sitting in my mother’s driveway and hearing her say, “I used to think gay people were going to hell, but I can’t believe that knowing you’re my daughter.” After that, my family came to my side. They studied to understand. And now my life has come full circle. I am blessed to have both a beautiful, devoted fiancée and an immediate family who loves and accepts me.

All of us who have experienced this process—both joyful and difficult—know that regardless if your family can come to acceptance or if you create a family of your own, a true sense of self and perseverance will always ensure that it gets better.


Katy Ray

I always knew I was gay. My first kiss was with a girl, and when I watched women in movies, I felt things that I never felt before. I used to sneak into the living room late at night and pop Showgirls into the VCR. I was on a journey to self-exploration and Elizabeth Berkeley was my north star. Throughout my childhood, I struggled as a late bloomer: while my best friends were coming into womanhood and getting their first kiss, I was impatiently waiting in the wings for mother maturity to take me into her arms and embrace me.

Katy Ray

Katy Ray (Photo: Josette Matoto)

I truly had no idea what I was doing when it came to my sexuality or identity. My mother abandoned me at a young age, and though my father did his best to raise me, I couldn’t have an open dialogue about girls, boys, or anything I was feeling. All I knew is that being gay was a sin, and if I wanted a family, I had to date men. And so I did.

For years in high school and college, I attempted intimacy with men. It always left me empty and void, like eating a rice cake. I wanted pudding: chocolate pudding, strawberry pudding, vanilla pudding…all the pudding! So I moved away from my hometown, college degree in tow, and set out to taste the rainbow.

Coming out to myself was the hardest part. I remember being so afraid of the term lesbian; it carried all of these social stigmas and presuppositions with which I did not identify. Short hair, flannel shirts, and Rosie O’Donnel swarmed together to create a monstrous montage in my mind.  Like many women out there, I tiptoed on the stepping-stone of bisexuality, before finally following my heart and diving headfirst into lesbo land. With the help of my best friends Liz and Circon, I finally accepted who I was, what I was, and whom I loved.

Then I came out to my sister. She’s met every girlfriend I’ve ever had, and has always welcomed them into her home with open arms and sarcastic banter. I’ve never officially come out to my father. He knows, but he wishes not to acknowledge it. Ignorance truly is bliss, and at the end of the day, my family’s acceptance and/or lack there of, does not change how I live my life.  In the same way I want my family to accept my sexuality. However, I accept the way in which they choose to cope.

I am engaged to a brilliant, beautiful woman. I am going to get married, have children, and raise some incredible human beings. I live my life for myself, for my fiancée, and for our future. I’m hopeful that our family relationships will improve over time, but no matter what the future holds I balance that hope with an independence and fearlessness that carries me forward.