So many people have coming out stories, and no two experiences are the same. I’m highlighting four of my favorites with characters varying in age, gender, race and more.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin

The cover of Emily Austin's book Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

27-year-old Gilda is an atheist, a lesbian and completely consumed with death. Unable to keep a job or maintain a social life, she joins a mental health support group at a local church. When they hire her unexpectedly, Gilda must pretend to be a good, straight Catholic instead of an atheist lesbian. She also takes it upon herself to investigate the death of the church’s elderly former secretary through emails with her friends.

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Throughout Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead, Gilda circles between deep depression and anxiety-induced panic attacks while hiding her identity from those around her. Emily Austin isn’t afraid to go to some dark places regarding mental health; however, she’s also incredibly funny. In a similar style to Fleabag, Gilda often has asides and internal observations of her surroundings. In fact, most of her development and depth occur in her head, rather than in interactions with other characters. This book is basically the stream-of-consciousness of an anxious young woman trying to please everyone.

As for her coming out story, Gilda has this to say: “I never know how to answer that question, because I don’t feel like I am out. I feel like I am in a constant state of coming out, and likely I always will be. I have to come out every time I meet someone.”

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Maybe the most well-known coming out story on this list, Fun Home is a graphic novel following the childhood of writer and cartoonist Alison Bechdel. Now an out lesbian, in college she discovered her father was queer and closeted her whole life. Bechdel found this out after she came out to her parents and just before her father’s death.

Like many others, Bechdel’s coming out story and her father’s aren’t linear. Instead, she depicts them as intertwined, jumping back and forth through time until they come together at Bruce Bechdel’s death. This comes across great in the graphic novel format, but if that’s not your thing check out the amazing musical adaptation of Fun Home.

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Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

Barry and Morris are secretly lovers; they have been since they were teens. For decades they’ve used their families as cover to evade prying questions. Now they’re in their seventies, and Barry has realized that something needs to change. Will he come to terms with his sexuality, fix things with his wife and find happiness?

Bernardine Evaristo’s seventh novel is an exploration of Britain’s older Caribbean community. It’s a warm-hearted story of what it’s like to both come out and come of age as an adult. While Evaristo does address the prejudice and fear many people hold, Mr. Loverman still manages to be a lively, humorous and even snarky read.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

The cover of Gabby Rivera's coming out story Juliet Takes a Breath

Juliet, a queer Puerto Rican teen from the Bronx, flies off to Portland for the summer after coming out to her family at her going-away dinner. Once there, she lives with her idol, a white feminist author named Harlowe Brisbane. She’s the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies and queer movements, and Juliet hopes their summer together will help her find herself.

Juliet Takes a Breath is a story of first love, heartbreak and community. Juliet herself is newly out and on a mission to discover how to be a lesbian and a feminist and a Puerto Rican all at the same time. On her journey, Gabby Rivera covers familial love, romantic love and falling in love, all in a beautiful and empowering way.

What’s your favorite literary coming out story? Share with us below, and happy Pride!

This article was originally published on 6/11/22.

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