Members of the LGBTQ community have been sharing their stories for Coming Out Day, an annual celebration held on October 11 to celebrate opening up about sexual orientation.
The celebration was created by activists in the US the year after the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, and those celebrating hope it will encourage others to be open about their sexual orientation.
Kodi Gaddis, 31, identifies as gay and was among those sharing thoughts on Twitter under the hashtag #ComingOutDay, describing coming out five years ago after both his biological mother and adoptive mother passed away.
“I think Coming Out Day helps bring those who are in situations where they are unsafe, scared, confused, or whatever their situations are, together with those who are already ‘out’ in the LGBTQ+ community,” he told the PA news agency.
“Being able to be part of a community that supports one another is all I was missing in my life.
“Today is a day that people can come out and find people that will support them and love them for who they are.”
Bryce Oakley, 32, shared the moment she revealed she is a lesbian at the age of 18 to her mother.
“I was terrified!” she told PA. “I had been dating my girlfriend for about two months, but we were just ‘close friends’ as far as my family knew.
“It went on for what felt like so long that it felt like coming out would reveal all the lies I had told.
“When my mom very kindly asked if we were more than friends, it felt like I finally had permission to talk about it!”
Speaking from the other side of this experience, Diane explained that her daughter came out at the age of 11.
“My advice would be to just listen,” said Diane, who chose to withhold her second name.
“Just hug them and remind them they are loved.
“There’s nothing more important than making sure that no matter what, they love their child.
“I think Coming Out Day is a great way to let people tell their stories, and hopefully encourage others to be able to do the same.”