Image by Aislinn O'Keeffe
I actually have 2 coming out stories — first, I came out as a lesbian in November 2016. Then, I came out as genderfluid this past April 2020. Both of my coming out stories are very technology-based, which makes sense given that I’m a millennial (and right on the cusp of being Gen Z!) When I came out as a lesbian, it was right after the US elections where Trump became president. I had realized I was gay a few months prior to that, but once Trump was elected, it seemed more important than ever to be real with the world about who I am — and be loud and proud instead of silent and scared.
I was invited by my college to write an “election reflection” piece for our school paper, and in it, I told the world that I’m gay. This news was well-received by everyone, but I did eventually realize that I might have preferred telling my close family and friends individually first, rather than having them find out alongside complete strangers. At the time, I assumed there would be no more coming outs for me, and so there was no point in thinking about what I would have done differently. But, a few short years later, I felt the nagging feeling that there was something deeper about myself — specifically my gender — that I couldn’t quite place. I did feel like a woman a lot of the time, but then there were also times when I knew firmly that “woman” wasn’t the best word to describe me.
After a lot of research and watching YouTubers & Instagrammers share their stories, I realized that the word “genderfluid” best described me… and suddenly, I realized I would have to come out again if I wanted people to fully know me.
This was really scary at first — it’s a lot to put yourself out there, especially when you’ve only recently discovered who you are! But then I realized this was a chance to be closer with my family and friends and allow them to lift me up and support me.
So I sent a text message to a few people, explaining that I’d found a better word to describe my gender than “woman,” but I’m still the same Zoe they’ve always known and loved. I was met with resounding love and support, and I felt so, so happy (and relieved!) But that was only half the battle — I still wanted to let the world know that I’m genderfluid, especially so I could start publicly talking about my experiences on Instagram (at the time, I was just starting to be more visible on the platform, and I wanted to be fully real and authentic in the stories I was sharing).
So, on April 6, 2020, I posted a photo on Instagram where I shared that I am genderfluid, which falls under the non-binary umbrella, and that I was scared to share this, but I knew that it was so rooted in my body that I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. As with before, I was met with support and love. And I am so thankful every day that this was the response, as I know so many others don’t experience this. But had I not been so supported, I may not have felt comfortable sharing about my life online, which has now become such a staple and joy of my existence. Wherever you are in your journey of discovering yourself and coming out, I see you, and I am here for you. It’s so hard to be vulnerable, but the feeling of living your true, authentic life is worth it all!
To read more coming out stories, check out Unite UK.