Somah Haaland's Story on National Coming Out Day

As a femme queer woman, I have to come out on an almost-daily basis. I am assumed straight by most people who pass me on the street and, because of this, coping with my identity has always been somewhat of a challenge. I have gone through many phases of gender expression and tried many times to overcompensate with snapbacks and button ups to “fit in.”

I am lucky that I don’t face as much discrimination as many of my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters - I don’t “look gay” all of the time, and I live in a city where I can walk down the street holding my girlfriend’s hand and not get harassed. However, coming out has been a constant part of my life, and many times when I am talking to a new person and I want to share something about my “partner,” I tend to use gender-neutral pronouns because I never know if someone is going to treat me differently.

I am extremely lucky to have a family who accepts me and a mother who embraces me. Although I always knew that my mom would not love me any less for being queer, having that conversation with someone close to me was always somewhat anxiety-inducing. I told my mother, in fact, that I shouldn’t have to come out to her. “Hetero people don’t have to sit their families down and tell them that they’re straight!” -- 18-year-old me proclaimed. After years of GSA meetings, pride marches, and participating in days of silence, I just figured that everyone knew. Although I wasn’t living in fear of telling my mom that I was gay, I was grateful that she could both treat me the same and celebrate my differences.

I love to celebrate this day, but I am also praying for all of the young queer kids who are legitimately afraid to tell their families, friends, and classmates who they are. They’re not alone, and it is our job as LGBTQ+ people and allies to create safe spaces for people to be themselves.