In honor of National Coming Out Day, Billboard Pride asked Shea Diamond, Miles McKenna, Gigi Gorgeous and Eugene Lee Yang to reflect on their coming out experiences, how they shaped them into who they are today, and what advice they have for young LGBTQ people who are struggling with their own experiences.
Shea Diamond recalls her difficult coming out experience, confessing that after she ran away from home, she was suicidal because she felt that no one in the world, including her own mother, loved her.
Diamond shares that when she was 14, her mother discovered some “questionable photos” of a guy she was seeing. “She went ballistic,” Diamond remembers. “She told me that I was going to hell and that I was gonna die of AIDS.”
“Once I realized at 14 that I wouldn't develop like the other cisgendered females, I could not stand being beat on because of my queerness,” adds Diamond. It was then that she ran away from home and then entered the foster care system at the age of 17.
“It made my confidence and self-esteem as a human being just deteriorate,” admits Diamond, noting that it wasn’t until she was in prison that she began to focus on her transition and go through “extensive” therapy to be able to live her own existence.
“I think our stories actually help our youth a lot because it lets them know that their story and their experience isn't isolated,” adds Diamond. “That's the most important message that we can send.”
In Miles McKenna’s video, he recalls his “rocky” and “miserable” coming out experience, as his parents told him that their relationship would never be the same. “I'm an only child, so it was really like night and day,” he explains.
McKenna shares that being a YouTuber, he leaned on the internet and people who put out “positive queer representation.” Eventually, he also found a queer community offline, as well as learned lessons about communication and setting boundaries.
Gigi Gorgeous, meanwhile, shares her experience of having to come out on three separate occasions. First, she came out as gay at 15. Then at 19, she came out as transgender. Then, after meeting the love of her life, she came out as a lesbian.
“That's something that I think a lot of people have a little bit of trouble with, seeing a transgender woman in love with a woman and in a relationship with a woman,” she says, explaining that she often hears ignorant comments from people questioning why she would transition just to end up with a woman.
“It's just a different, it's my new modern," she tells them. "It feels good to be honest and to tell the world.”
Finally, Eugene Lee Yang recalls his rather unique coming out experience, revealing that after he graduated from high school, his mother told his father he was gay. His doctor father then proceeded to open up a medical journal and – without ever mentioning Eugene’s uality – began discussing “anal elasticity."
“That was his really roundabout nice way of saying maybe he didn't have a huge problem with me being gay,” he says, adding, “But I was also scarred for life.”