Embracing authenticity: 4 learnings from 4 queer coming out stories

MHA Admin

Fri, 10/13/2023 – 11:29

by Jackie Zimmerman

National Coming Out Day, marked each year on Oct. 11, can be a day of declaration, celebration, or exploration for queer individuals. Coming out is a deeply personal experience loaded with many feelings attached to individuals wanting to share their gender or sexual identity with others. It is a nuanced event since it doesn’t just happen once in a queer person’s life but can occur multiple times or even daily.

Angel Zhong, Zoe Stoller, Theo Schwartz, and Alex Guerra joined me recently to talk about their unique experiences coming out. After an hour together, I left with a new perspective on what it can be like to be queer and feel like you must come out. Here are four takeaways that might be useful to other allies or those thinking about coming out.

1. Being authentically you can be the best thing for your mental health.

While coming out can be scary, it can also be so rewarding. Feeling like you have to hide parts of who you are is downright exhausting. To better understand yourself, take the time for self-exploration and practice self-compassion. Having peace with your identity and living true to yourself can be one of the most beneficial things for your mental health.

2. Coming out has to feel comfortable for you.

There’s a lot of pressure when thinking about coming out for the first time. Take the time to remind yourself there’s no right or wrong way to share who you are. You can choose when, how, and who you come out to. When you feel comfortable enough to come out, do it in a way that feels right. Zoe shared that they felt too much pressure and social anxiety to come out in person, so they texted those who were important to them. Whether it’s an Instagram post on National Coming Out Day like Theo, a public poem read at a National Coming Out Day event like Angel, or over time through personal conversations like Alex, the choice is up to you.

3. It’s never too late to be yourself.

There is no correct timeline for coming out. At any point you can question yourself, discover yourself, try therapy, work on your mental health, and find what it means to live authentically to you. Whether you are 18 or 50, you can start living your life for you. It is never too late to say today’s the day.

4. There is a community out there for you.

Community is an essential part of feeling supported in your identity. One of the best support systems for someone worried about coming out is the queer community itself. Allies are important, but there’s something to be said for support from someone who has gone through what you have and knows what you’re experiencing. If you don’t have a queer community you can connect with near you, or safely, there are ways to connect online through social media, the influencers you follow, and support groups or forums. Find more resources in our LGBTQ+ hub.

Coming out is about embracing your true self, expressing it in safe and comfortable ways, and finding the support you need. There is never one right way to come out; you get to decide what that looks like. Living authentically can be a beautiful thing for your mental health. Embrace it and celebrate it, because the world needs you just as you are.

Listen to our entire conversation, Living Authentically Me: Coming out LGBTQ+ here.

Jackie Zimmermann is the manager of public education partnerships and e-learning at Mental Health America.


The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will house a “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center, that will provide case management, mental health community advocacy, and oversight from the M.I. Mother’s Keeper mental health advocates. 
The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will offer patrons access to immediate coverage by general surgeons as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.
Our goal is to help people in the best way possible in an effort to preserve and to save more lives in the Nation’s Capital and beyond.

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Code Red
Gunshot Victim
Life Threatening Wounds
Physical Assault Victim
Severely Injured Auto Accident Victim
Burn Victim
Choking & Breathing Obstructions
and more…


Child Sex Assault Victim
Domestic Violence Victim
Drug Overdose
Rape/Sex Crime Victim
Suicide Watch
Trafficking Victim
Nervous Breakdown
and more…

Mental Health

At Capital City Emergency Trauma & Wellness Center patrons with mental health emergencies that include life threatening situations in which an individual is imminently threatening harm to self or others, severely disoriented or out of touch with reality, has a severe inability to function or is otherwise distraught and out of control, will have access to quality and psychiatric emergency services and referrals.

Physical Health

Whether your life threatening medical emergency involves excessive or uncontrollable bleeding, head injury. difficulty with breathing, severe pain, heart attack, vision impairments, stroke, physically collapsing, or seizure related, rest assured that our professionals will properly assess and evaluate the level of response that will be most needed to help provide stabilized care solutions and minimize complications as well as reduce early mortality.

Holistic Healthcare

We offer healthcare solutions that will support the whole person which includes their physical, psychological, emotional, social, & spiritual wellbeing. Research supports that because your mental state can affect your overall health we support and offer the inclusion of complimentary and alternative medicine(CAM) practitioners and naturopathic doctor recommendations and referrals as a part of our Outreach Community Resource Center’s care regimen and support.


Emergency care can typically result in traumatic injuries for which rehabilitation becomes an essential component of care in trying to achieve the best long-term outcomes for the patient. In addition to speeding up recovery times and helping to prevent further complications, rehabilitative care also helps to support a patient’s self-managed recovery once discharged from our facility. Our Outreach Community Resource Center works closely with our trauma center’s discharge department to assure that patrons requiring these services are linked with qualified professionals who will be accountable to the standard of care required to help the patron be successful in their recovery.

Social Services

Our “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center intends to promote “expansive” beneficial community enriching services, programs, case management, & linkage to “approved” partner resources and supports in all of the following intended areas and more:

Social Services

  • Clothing
  • Food Pantry
  • Housing/Shelter
  • I.D. Credentials
  • Senior Wellness Check
  • Toiletries
  • Transportation
  • Etc.

Extended Family Services

  • Child Care
  • Credit Counseling
  • Family Court Services
  • Legal Aide

Career Training

  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Computer/Graphics Training
  • Culinary Program  
  • GED Courses
  • Hospitality Training
  • Job Etiquette & Grooming
  • Resume’ Prep
  • Sales Training
  • Software/Technology workshops
  • Small Business Training

Return Citizen
Program Partner
(Bridging the Gap)

  • Case Management
  • Temporary Boarding/Housing
  • Transitional Program Registration

Prevention/Intervention Outreach,
Workshops, & Programs

  • After-school Behavioral Health Program
  • Civic Engagement / Volunteer Sign-up
  • Fatherhood Rites of Passage
  • Gun Violence Town Hall Forum
  • Life Coaching & Coping Strategies
  • Marriage Counseling Workshops
  • Medicare Informational Workshops
  • Mentorship Training
  • Parental Classes
  • Support Groups
  • Town Hall Discussions
  • Violence De-Escalation Training
  • Voter Registration

Nutritional Outreach

  • Cooking Demonstrations
  • Dietary Programs
  • Exercise Classes
  • Recipe Sharing Workshops
  • Meal Prep

Community Outreach

The Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition is partnering with the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health advocacy organization to provide outreach services on the community level as an aid in reducing the existent health inequities that many District citizens are facing as a direct result of the presence of debilitating social determinants and the lack of culturally appropriate care choices and realities for community members residing in marginalized and lower-income communities.

It is the vision and intentions of the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health Advocates organization to help improve the quality of living for citizens living in our Nation’s Capital and beyond by overseeing the delicate linkage to services and by maintaining higher standards of care accountability for deserving citizens of the Nation’s Capital.

For more information or to enroll as one of our service providers, please email us at: