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8 Gen Zers On How They *Really* Feel About The Term “Coming Out”

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Being comfortably open about who you are can be a big deal, especially for the LGBTQ+ community — a community of people who have struggled to have that opportunity for so long. That’s why coming out means a lot to lots of people, to be able to claim that piece of themselves loudly and proudly. However, there are others who don’t share that sentiment, or are more conflicted on the subject. In fact, many Gen Zers are starting to see the flaws in the term “coming out.”

For some, coming out isn’t something many queer Gen Zers intend to do. After all, many people — especially college students — see queerness all around them, so it’s not as much of a big deal as it may have once been, at least in certain parts of the country. There are people who grow up with queer parents and have queer friends from a young age. There are more and more queer characters being shown on TV. There’s a video I saw on TikTok of a mother explaining to her daughter what it means to be gay, and the little girl was sad that she isn’t gay. 

For lots of folks, their queerness doesn’t define them, and they don’t want to feel like it’s a big deal, or something they need to be explaining to anyone. For example, for my 19 year old sister, there was never really a big moment. She sort of just started sending me thirst-edits of Megan Fox and I put two and two together. 

My sister isn’t alone; there’s a large group of queer people who feel like the term “coming out” is becoming outdated. “I feel like coming out is a very unnecessary process,” Troy Hennekam, a 20 year old sociology student at the University of Guelph, tells Her Campus. “People should just be free to love who they love without having to make it clear to everyone around them that they are gay, bi, et cetera. Due to the heteronormative nature of society, LGBTQ+ folks are forced to flag themselves as ‘different’ to straight people. I think coming out is a great way to celebrate our identities in concept, but in reality there is too much pressure on us to have some extravagant coming out story, rather than just dating who we want to date.” 

This is a commonly felt sentiment. “I feel that coming out is a pivotal part of every queer person’s life, but overall is an older concept that I don’t feel is super necessary,” Eamon Doherty, a 20 year old student at Toronto Metropolitan University, says. “I think that someone coming out should be celebrated, but that it shouldn’t be expected for someone to announce it to their family and the world.”

 In many ways, the term “coming out” can make a person feel like they need to confess something, or that in coming out, they are admitting to some kind of wrongdoing solely because of their sexuality. “Knowing whether or not I was queer was difficult, but did not compare to actually having to share what I had discovered about myself with the world,”ays Sofia Barato, a 20 year old communications student at Toronto Metropolitan University. “Despite having a supportive family, I felt so much shame and pressure towards coming out. It made me feel that because I had to admit it, that it was abnormal to be queer. I felt like I was disappointing my family, though they’ve told me since I was a child that they would love me no matter what. I couldn’t help but think that they would look at me differently.” 

That said, there are plenty of others who think coming out is a necessary and positive part of being queer. After all, queerness is worth celebrating. Celebrating and claiming your sexuality is powerful, and can mean a great deal to people who needed the courage to get to that moment. Olivia McNiell, a 21-year-old psychology major at Concordia University, doesn’t see coming out as a negative thing. “I think it’s empowering to have a handle on your own narrative and to share your sexuality on your own terms when you feel ready.” 

There are others, like Olivia, who feel like while coming out can carry some negative weight, it doesn’t have to be negative in itself. “Coming out is difficult,” says Keifer de Sousa, a 21-year-old student at Toronto Metropolitan University. “You have to announce to your friends and loved ones that you’re different from society’s norm. Speaking from experience, coming out can be the most pressuring and challenging experience one can go through, but at the same time it’s such a rewarding experience. When someone comes out they get to live their true self and that’s the most beautiful thing someone can do in this life.” 

Coming out can be about bravery, and being brave should be celebrated. “‘Coming out’ is a term used by someone who is finally brave enough to live their truth and becoming comfortable about their sexual or gender identity,” says Makalah Wright, a 20-year-old mass communication major at the University of West Georgia. “It’s also important to note that no one should be forced to come out if they’re not ready. At first, some will feel a sense of shame and regret. Others will feel relief and at ease. Overall, it’s a process that is meant to be liberating and important.” 

From another perspective, Madi Hayes, a 20-year-old English major at Toronto Metropolitan University, believes that coming out is more necessary now than ever before. “Coming out is not only coming to terms with yourself about who you are, but it is also deciding to choose who you are unabashedly yourself with. It is more about protecting yourself than anything else and that has become more prevalent in the queer community now more than ever. I wish one day we do see a world where ‘coming out’ isn’t the norm, but accepting and living your life beautifully is. But sadly, now is a time to protect ourselves and our community.”

There are also some people who sort of sit in a middle ground, and think there are both positives and negatives to coming out, and it can really depend on what’s best for you. “Honestly, it’s different for everyone, but the experiences are so valid,” says 20-year-old Sabrina Ramirez Cadena. “Many feel scared [and] anxious; others are confident and happy to share who they are, and others feel indifferent. Intersectionality makes a big difference in coming out and we should be able to hold space and empathy for everyone. We all have our own pace and shouldn’t be forced to share something that is personal.” 

All in all, how, when, and even if you decide to come out is entirely up to you, and there is no right answer when it comes to you and your relationship to your sexuality. It’s all yours, babe!

Julia Dwyer

Toronto MU '25

Julia is a National Life Writer and chapter member at Her Campus TMU. She has lived in Toronto her whole life. She is passionate about women and the things they create, book adaptations, and really good stories with flawed, loveable characters. When she's not procrastinating, studying, or buying expensive coffee on campus, you can find her rewatching Pride and Prejudice, reading everything that Emily Henry publishes, and wishing she could be eating apple pie.