11 simple and powerful photos that capture the freedom of coming out.

National Coming Out Day is a special kind of happy.

It's a celebration of walking in your own personal truth and deciding to be who you are without shame or fear. Don't get me wrong, the uncertainty is daunting, scary even. But coming out means jumping in and doing it anyway. And it feels good. Really good. Like your first deep breath after being underwater. It's a sweet relief.

Did I mention that it's a special kind of happy? Kevin Lloyd kissing his boyfriend in the 2015 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images.


To celebrate, many folks from the LGBTQ community are sharing their coming out stories and offering advice and encouragement to others waiting to take the leap.

Here are 11 stories that remind us all why coming out is an important act of bravery.

1. Coming out isn't easy, so María Isabel got some ink to remember what's important.

2. Braxton hasn't come out to his family as a trans man yet, so he leans on his friends for support.

Even though I may not have supportive family at all I'm so thankful for the supportive friends I have. The ones who learned my new name and never messed up once, the ones who always try to remember, and the ones who ask what I would like to be called. I've been out to my friends for 2 years and have received so much love. It's a living nightmare to be closeted to my family. To them I'm a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a girl. It's hard hearing those words when you know you can't speak up and correct them. Its hard being told every time you buy clothes "Those are for boys, your not a boy" from someone who's supposed to love you unconditionally. It's hard living in a body that feels so foreign. It's hard having to constantly explain myself to people that aren't even willing to understand. But this is a fight that I know I'm not fighting alone. I have transgender friends and I have transgender idols that show that this fight is worth it. One day I will look more like the man I know I am and that day I will look back and congratulate myself for making it that far. I am Braxton and I am transgender. #NationalComingOutDay #ProudToBeTransgender #HeHim #FTM

A photo posted by B⚧ (@simply.bs) on

3. Lorena is a bisexual woman engaged to the love of her life. "I've never been happier," she says.

4. Thedarkerbrother quoted the late, great Nina Simone in his message. "I'll tell you what freedom to me is: no fear."

5. Visibility and coming out can be especially important for the people in the LGBTQ community who we don't hear as much about, like bisexuals, asexuals, or pansexuals.

Happy national coming out day. For those who don't know I'm pansexual. 🏳️‍🌈 #selfie #nationalcomingoutday

A photo posted by Angelica (@hells_lost_angel) on

6. Loving yourself as you are is a major key. Just ask Carly.

Thank you for helping me learn to love myself for exactly who I am ❤💛💚💙💜#nationalcomingoutday #proud

A photo posted by carlygersten (@carlygersten) on

7. This is Cody. Cody is gay. And when people feel invisible or unloved for who they are, a message as simple as that may change a life.

I'm Cody. And I'm gay. #NationalComingOutDay

A photo posted by @thebeardedfruit on

8. Cassidy's coming out was pretty smooth, but she knows that's not always the case. That's why she's standing with her community today.

9. "Dream big," said Jerrod. Adding, "Each of us has a story, an insight, and a gift to share with the world. Let yours be known."

BE YOU. Exceed expectations. Dream big. Overcome the limitations that you and others place on your life. You are too complex and multifaceted to let any one quality define your life or who you are. Reach back to others who are not as far along as you and push the boundaries of the ones ahead. Have compassion for the differences of others and encourage their expression for the betterment of us all. Use your voice and speak justice and truth into the consciousness of the world. Expand past the walls of your small worldview and embrace the great diversity of life. Each of us has a story, an insight, and a gift to share with the world. Let yours be known. And lastly love and love and love and love. You matter. You matter. You. Matter. #NationalComingOutDay

A photo posted by jerrodbarks (@jerrodbarks) on

10. Coming out has opened a world of new perspectives and adventure for Jesse, who's happy to live openly.

11. If you're not ready or able to come out, that's OK. Just take it from fitness phenom Shaun T.

CONGRATS TO THOSE WHO ARE CELEBRATING National Coming Out Day! Today is about more than coming out though! For some people it's not so easy so let's remember that for those who aren't ready just yet...ITS OK TO BE SCARED! Most of us were and you know what? When you're ready, you have a big family of people waiting to embrace you. STAY THE COURSE and Accept who you are first. The rest will follow suit. . Every story is different, I know, but I also know the freedom to be you is like no other freedom. LOVE YOURSELF! YOU MATTER and remember that YOU ARE AMAZING even if people tell you otherwise. So whether you're celebrating internally or externally today, CONGRATS for knowing who you are! Much love! ❤️️💜💙💚💛#nationalcomingoutday

A photo posted by Shaun T (@shauntfitness) on

Everyone has their own journey. And for your own well-being, personal safety, or economic welfare, it may not be the best time for you to come out right now. But know that we see you and we recognize your struggle. You are not alone. That's what National Coming Out Day is all about.

And if you are ready: Come out, come out, wherever you are. Whenever you're ready. Whenever you're able.

Celebrate with pride, courage, and enthusiasm. Because love is love is love. And it's pretty, freakin' awesome.

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