National Coming Out Day just passed this October 11th. National Coming Out Day is a celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community and acts as a reminder of the power of coming out. As told by the Human Rights Campaign, this national day began in 1988, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
We want to honor our LGBTQIA+ community by sharing two inspiring stories about the journey of coming out, written by two powerful women in the RGV. We hope their stories inspire people in our local community to embrace who they are and come out (when they are ready.)
Mitzi Venus (she/her) is a 27-year-old model and actress from McAllen.
I come from a Baptist family. I’ve been going to church since I was a baby. I grew up with the holy spirit. My oldest sister is a lesbian, my parents had a hard time coming to terms with my sister’s sexuality. They still loved her but were also praying that she would come to her senses, find a man, get married, have children, and come back to church – which wasn’t right. Despite that, I always knew that I had a big heart. I didn’t see anything wrong with liking the same or different genders. As a kid, I had many crushes on boys, but I also knew when it came to some girls I would be very flustered around them.
Stephanie (she/her) is a 48-year-old businesswoman from Edinburg.
I am a 48-year-old female whose pronouns are she/her. I relocated to Edinburg from San Antonio 6 years ago along with my wife.
My coming out story is a positive one, although I know many are not. Despite acceptance from my parents, family members, and most of my friends, it is not lost on me that there are people whose coming out story ends in heartbreak, rejection, embarrassment, and disappointment. I want to emphasize to others that there are an infinite number of ways in which someone can respond to your truth, but their response does not define who you are as an individual.
I was about 32 years old when I asked my brother to meet me for lunch, which was out of the norm for our relationship, but I was already thinking that in case things went south, a public place would encourage civility. After we sat down, I just started talking. No thinking, no pausing, just talking. There was no need to procrastinate and give myself any opportunity to change my mind, so I said, “Thank you for meeting me. I wanted to tell you that I am in a serious, committed relationship with a woman, and I’m very happy.” Any fear I had was put to rest after he took a deep breath and said, “Well, I look forward to meeting her. You’re paying for lunch, right?” We both laughed, and I knew at that moment that we were going to be ok. Once we both relaxed, he asked me if I had told our parents. They were flying in from out of state that night for a two-week visit, so I planned on telling them but needed his support first. I think he felt honored to be the first person I came out to, and it gave me a greater sense of strength to come out to our parents, knowing I had his support.
That evening, I met up with my parents at my brother’s house and nervously avoided the subject. I pulled my brother aside and told him I was ready but that I didn’t want him in the room because I didn’t know what their reaction would be. He told me he would go outside and water the grass to give me time and space but not to take too long because he didn’t really like watering the grass, and he wasn’t very good at it.
When I told my parents I needed to talk to them about something, my dad immediately asked, “Is it your health?” When I told him it was not a health concern, he wrapped me up in his arms and said, “Well then, I feel better already. Whatever you have to tell us, we can handle.” Not wanting to leave my brother outside for too long watering one patch of grass, I said, “I’ve met a woman, and we have gotten pretty serious in our relationship. I can’t tell you exactly what this means, but I know I’m happy and that we love each other a great deal.” My dad said, “It means you are both very lucky to have met someone to share your life with.”
Again, I know not everyone is met with this level of acceptance, but I couldn’t have imagined the level of support I would receive from my family. My parents ended up joining a local chapter of PFLAG in their home state of Washington to gain a better understanding of how to navigate this unfamiliar territory as well as to help other parents and family members process the truths from their own loved ones.
Everyone has a different story because everyone has a different collection of chapters that make up their story.
Know who you are, and be that.
Suicide Prevention Month is a time to advocate for the 48,183 lives lost to suicide nationwide. It’s time to raise awareness by educating and sharing resources and letting anyone know who is struggling that they are not alone.