Coming out stories are bittersweet. It's beautiful to see a member of the LGBTQ+ community allow themselves to be at their most vulnerable while coming out and even more heartwarming to see their friends and family see them as they always have. There are dozens of stories like Madeline Melton where there is an overwhelming sense of fear about coming out despite feeling sure that it would be no problem, and it turns out they were right.
Sadly, for each story like Madeline's, you can find one that is exactly the opposite.
Stories like Daniel Ashley Pierce resonates with the other hundreds of LGBTQ+ members who have been left homeless or disowned by their family after coming out. Mothers who carried their child to full term disown their children in a blink of an eye, and fathers tell their child to find a new home. Siblings who grew up together grow distant, and childhood friends become complete strangers.
It is both inspiring and heartbreaking how different everyone's coming out story is because it shows how far we have come as a society and how much more we need to go for true equality.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community should not have to fear being treated as an outcast because of who they are attracted to. They should not have to lie through omission about who they are or feel burdened by telling the truth about who they are. LGBTQ+ people should not have to feel like they have to come out to be accepted.
Perhaps I am naive in thinking that the results of coming out to friends and family should never be so drastically different, but I want to believe that all humans are capable of compassion. I want to live in a world where people who identify with the LGBTQ+ community do not feel pressured to hide who they are or feel anxiety about coming to terms with who they are. LGBTQ+ people should not have to feel like their identity is some big, dark secret that can make or break connections with their peers, and it should never be a reason to sever ties.
With each coming out story, I hope that we are one step closer to a world where saying that you are bi or gay or lesbian or transgender is treated like saying you are Asian or Hispanic or Caucasian; it does not matter because it is who you are, and that is okay. Every day I hope tomorrow is that day.