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9 College Women Get Real About Coming Out

Everyone’s coming out journey is different – and the women below are no exception. We had 9 college women share with us how they came out; read their stories below!

“I came out to my parents as pansexual when I was a freshman. I’m hesitant to come out to my extended family but I kind of told my cousin this Thanksgiving. We went on with the conversation like normal, which was great but I’m going to take it slow and on an as needed basis with telling the rest of them. When it came to my parents, I dropped a couple hints, like I told them about my crush a lot without calling her my crush. So when I came out it wasn’t a total surprise. It went well, my mom was supportive and my dad really couldn’t have cared less (he literally laughed and said okay). Here’s the thing about coming out to your parents, you never know what is going to happen until it’s done. It’s one thing to say you’re okay with gay/trans/ace/etc. but as my mother said ‘it’s different when it’s your kid.’ I’m close to my parents and I hate not telling them things but I was still scared because what if it was different with me. I’m thankful that it went well and that I got my sexuality out in the open. I know I’m very lucky.”

-Hannah, Framingham State Class of 2017

“I came out to most of my friends and family in high school, but I wasn’t very open about my sexuality. Now that I’m in college, pretty much everyone knows. Part of what made coming out difficult was the surprise factor. People weren’t expecting it, so it changed their perception of me. They knew me for so long as straight, and then they had to get to know me as gay. At college, it was easier to be open about my sexuality because people were meeting me as gay. They got to know gay Caroline, so my sexuality seemed more natural. I only recently came out to one of my best friends, who I’ve known for years. It was very hard, but the time was right. I’m glad I did it, because now I don’t have to pretend around him.”

-Caroline, Towson University Class of 2019

RELATED: 16 LGBTQ+ Movies You Need to See Before You Graduate

“In high school, I told a few of my close friends that I was attracted to girls and that while I didn’t label myself specifically, I was confused whether I was bisexual or a lesbian. In college, I was open with my roommate about my sexuality almost immediately and was lucky she was so accepting. It was important for me to be able to be myself with the person I spent most of my time with in college, and to be able to have someone to talk about my relationships with.”

-Lexi, Boston College Class of 2019

“In going to a college that thankfully has an awesome LGBTQ Resource Center and pride in different identities, I felt comfortable to come out as questioning my sexuality. Then, in my involvement with my college’s resources I was able to come out as lesbian. My decision to come out was one that I made because I felt comfortable around those in the queer community on campus. Now I walk around with pins on my bag, including a lesbian flag one, and one that says likes girls. It’s amazing how much college has taught me about the community and helped me accept myself and others. I minor in LGBTQ Studies and hope to be an activist for the Community.”

-Jessica, Montclair State University Class of 2017

“I was out to a few people in high school as ‘bisexual’ but I didn’t feel like that label fit what I felt. I denied that I had different feelings from most people for a few years. Once I got to college and became more involved on campus I started to feel more comfortable. I returned to using the term bisexual to describe myself to others. Further into college I read more about the word ‘queer’ being reclaimed by people who were all over the sexuality spectrum. I’ve been identifying as queer for two years and now I feel like it is more encompassing. I am not out to my family but I don’t feel that I’m hiding anything. If I were to be in a serious relationship with someone they would only care about my happiness. As of right now I’m casually dating and enjoying the college life! I am out to my friends and have no reservations about that. I really enjoy the work of Robin Ochs and feel like she does a great job of explaining why it is important for people to be comfortable with their sexuality.”

-Ellie, Minnesota State University, Mankato Class of 2016

RELATED: 9 Reasons to Visit Your School’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center

“I came out maybe a year ago. I decided to come out because I was very tired of people talking about dating to me, and the strict assumption of heteronormativity. I’m asexual, and dating is exhausting, because I know that most people date not only for the romantic purposes but sexual needs as well. My mom took it well, and told me that she was glad that I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t. There are a lot of people I haven’t told, because bringing up asexuality leads in two directions: explaining what it is, and talking about sex. And I hate, hate talking about sex. So I guess most people in school still think that I’m straight as they come.”

-Cole, SCAD Atlanta Class of 2017

“I came out as a lesbian to friends only in early 2014 (the end of my freshman year). I’m also open about my sexuality to strangers, but I haven’t told my family. It all happened pretty quickly; I admitted I was gay to myself around December of 2013, and by March of 2014 my friends all knew. Once I felt comfortable enough with it, I felt like I had to tell them. It explained so much about me…why I never liked guys in high school, my lack of dating experience despite being asked out a few times. No one was shocked; some said they knew for a while and some said they hadn’t realized but it made sense. I’m very, very lucky that they all accepted me. Currently I have a girlfriend but my family doesn’t know we’re dating. I’m afraid to come out mostly because I have no idea what they’ll say. They aren’t really conservative but they’re sort of traditional. I’m mostly afraid they’ll be sad their image of me as their perfect girl (the only girl in the family) will change when they know I’ll be marrying another woman.”

-Ashley, Emerson College Class of 2017

“I came out in college, after a lot of years of denial and closeting at a Catholic high school. It was a really difficult decision, because there’s such a stereotype about queer girls coming out the moment they get out of high school and how ‘everyone saw it coming’ or whatever. Despite this, I couldn’t hide it anymore, and after about two months I slowly started telling people I was queer (which is my preferred identifier — I’m strongly attracted to women and very rarely attracted to men with such infrequency that ‘bisexual’ feels wrong, but ‘lesbian’ is, by definition, also not applicable). It went really well — much better than I had expected, given that most queer stories told in media have heightened drama and tragedy you’re hard-pressed to find a ‘gay movie’ where no one dies or gets disowned. My own coming out was with much less fanfare. All my friends accepted it smoothly and easily. I only had to field a few annoying remarks: ‘but you dress so straight!’ (because I’m very femme), ‘I totally knew it’ (which wasn’t meant derogatorily, but felt it), and the like, but I clarified to those people that despite their intent, those are not appropriate responses.”

-Ali, Hofstra University Class of 2017

RELATED: Your Complete Guide to Coming Out in College

“When I came out in college, it was not my first time coming out. I originally came out to friends and family during middle and high school. However, I still needed to come out to my college friends and the community when I went to college. It was actually really difficult for me. I lived with my girlfriend of three years, and we both worried we’d have trouble making friends if we told people that not only were we LGBTQ women, but we were also dating each other. We didn’t want the fact that we were dating, rather than random roommates or acquaintances like most college freshmen live with, to make us stand out from others in a bad way. In high school, we organically had the same friend group because the two of us were best friends before we started dating, and our friends already liked us before they knew us as a couple. In college, we didn’t tell our friend group we were dating for a few months in the beginning because we were scared of losing people. Ultimately, we ended up being confronted because we had pictures of us kissing in our room as well as that we’re a couple on social media. Our friends sat us down and asked us if we were together and we explained why we hadn’t said anything. Over time, we built a new organic circle of friends — each of us able to spend time with our friends without the other there, as well, and each of us having our own friends too — without making it awkward. In fact, we even ended up living with our best friends for sophomore, junior, and senior year instead of living just the two of us. We met a few more LGBTQ friends, including our friend Jon, who came out as gay for the very first time in college. It was really exciting, and great to have that community. My girlfriend and I continued to face weird situations being a couple in college, like when professors find out and mention it, or when friends seek you out because they think it would be cool to be friends with a same sex couple, but overall it’s been a great experience!”

-Alaina, Emerson College Class of 2017

Cara Sprunk has been the Managing Editor of Her Campus since fall 2009. She is a 2010 graduate of Cornell University where she majored in American Studies with a concentration in cultural studies. At Cornell Cara served as the Assistant Editor of Red Letter Daze, the weekend supplement to the Cornell Daily Sun where she also wrote for the news and arts section and blogged about pop culture. In her free time Cara enjoys reading, shopping, going to the movies, exploring and writing.  
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