Justice

Show This Comic to Someone Who Wants to Understand What Coming Out is Really Like

June 2nd 2017

By:
Almie Rose

Every June since 1969 is known as Pride Month because that's when Americans honor the Stonewall riots, the day the LGBTQ fight for equal rights became a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement.

Stonewall Inn

These days gay bars in America aren't raided by police—and the little New York City bar has since been named a national historic landmark. That doesn't mean LGBTQ people everywhere are now ready to come out.

This comic, by illustrator/artist Ryan Maniulit of Seattle, explains why.

"Everyone experiences coming out differently."

coming out comic

"You'll find yourself coming out to lots of people over time."

coming out

As Laila Ibrahim of The Advocate wrote in 2016, "for LGBT people, coming out doesn't happen just once." Ibrahim explained, "we talk about coming out as if it’s something you only do once. In my experience it’s an ongoing part of life. Sometimes it’s easy, and other times it makes my stomach flutter."

The artist himself has found this experience to be especially true. "I thought 'coming out' would mean I wouldn't have to do it again and again, and again," he told us via email. "Just like in the comic, I explain that you come out to tons of people over time. Coming out is a constant process."

"Coming out is like the start of an adventure."

coming out comic

As Maniulit illustrates, not everyone has support after coming out. True Colors Fund estimates "1.6 million youth [in America] are homeless each year and that up to 40 percent of them identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender."

Maniulit concludes with a declaration: 

coming out

We asked Ryan what inspired him to tweet this comic he originally made in October 2016.

It currently has over 11,000 retweets.

That morning he checked Twitter and saw "lots of very great and valid points on my timeline" in honor of National Coming Out Day.

"[I] wanted to combine some of them into a small comic that would easily reach all the people it needed to," Ryan wrote ATTN: in a recent email. "I'm actually surprised I got the comic done in a day considering it normally takes me a day per page. I guess I was VERY motivated."

But, as he explains, "shortly after this comic was posted, America elected a new President. I feel as though the change in administration is a very pivotal point for most LGBTQ people. People (including me) were very scared their rights would be stripped and that legal protections would be rescinded. After the election it seemed like a lot of LGBTQ people (especially QPOC) were unsure of their future."

Which could be another reason why his illustration struck such a powerful chord. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can see more of Ryan's work on his website.