Coming out is a deeply personal experience that is a hallmark of LGBTQ+ existence. As much as it can be either a deeply painful or joyful experience, sharing those stories is a common practice in LGBTQ+ culture. Many young members of the LGBTQ+ community look to these stories to prepare themselves for the best and worst case scenarios, and these stories often give them the courage to come out.
When considering coming out stories, we began to wonder if there were any similarities across the wide range of experiences. We also began to question if we would see patterns due to things such as region of origin and family situation. This culminated in our idea to review coming out stories as widely as we were able to gather our data.
For our project, we decided to do both full length interviews and short surveys to gather as much information as possible. We also used these surveys to select candidates for our longer interviews by including an option for participants to mark their willingness to extend their story into a longer conversation.
In our longer interviews, we decided to start off by asking those we surveyed to tell us about their experience coming out. From there, we asked follow up questions such as how coming out affected their identity, how their background impacted their coming out experience, and if coming out changed their day-to-day life.
For our brief surveys, we asked basic demographic information and the prompt “If you are comfortable doing so, please share your coming out experience. Include as many details as you deem important. Feel free to exclude anything you do not feel comfortable sharing.” For more information and those responses, click the survey tab or here.