Written by Darriel McBride for Family Pictures USA
For many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, National Coming Out Day is the perfect time to celebrate their own stories while raising awareness about the LGBTQ+ experience. Proclaiming one’s identity is a deeply personal and often challenging experience for LGBTQ+ individuals. Regardless of how someone identifies under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, there is no perfect way to share your own story with your loved ones.
As a community, it is important that we honor these stories as they can be a comforting and/or informative experience for many. In a world where many members of the LGBTQ+ community still struggle with institutional discrimination and a lack of support from their own families, there are LGBTQ+ people who have positive experiences, and receive unconditional love and acceptance within their own families. One such experience as told by Miguel Diaz, from the Bronx, about his own coming out story, has been captured in photos by Darriel McBride.
Darriel McBride: Does your family know about your sexuality and do they support you? If so, How?
Miguel Diaz: Yes. They know and they’re very supportive. Ever since I was a kid they always sensed my sexuality, but because of peer pressure and the environment I was around, I was scared to own up to it. A times, I convinced myself that the thoughts I was having were not real or that I was losing it. But they were always really supportive and hinted things at me that made me feel a little bit more comfortable. They never outwardly told me, “its okay to be gay” but they always made me feel welcomed in the family regardless of my sexuality and
Miguel shared that his older sister has been a major support system to him, especially with regard to his sexuality. He smiled, as he held out the photo in front of him.
Darriel McBride: Why is this picture important to you?
Miguel Diaz: This picture is meaningful to me because it captures a beautiful part of my childhood, as well as my sister’s role in my young life. These photos are part of a scrapbook my sister kept pictures in. The third photo, captures how happy our relationship made me and how much I looked up to her. Growing up, it was important for me to have such a strong support system, especially with someone I look up to so much.
Darriel McBride: Can you share a memory of acceptance you’ve experienced with a family member or a friend?
Miguel Diaz: It’s funny because I thought I was completely ready to tell her, but when we sat down I couldn’t really say the words. They weren’t coming out of my mouth at all. I actually told her, “Don’t make me say this” like it was the worst thing in the world. Even though I was comfortable, I still got really anxious and scared. And she was like, “what? Are you gay?” I said, “yeah” and she was like, “oh my god, we have to tell Tim” Tim is my brother in law. This was about four years ago and she got really excited and wanted to organize a family meeting to tell them. I definitely wasn’t prepared for any of that, but the fact that she was so enthusiastic about it and so supportive, I’m really grateful for that as well.
Darriel McBride: What advice would you give to someone who is not open about their identity–for whatever reason?
Miguel Diaz: Really be comfortable with yourself outside of what other people think because one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the past year, for example, is that we can’t control other peoples’ thoughts or other peoples’ opinions and behaviors. Thinking about who you are and what’s in your heart and what’s in your mind, body, and soul, is really going to help you understand yourself a lot more deeply than you ever have. And you are going to realize how liberating it will feel to openly accept this part of yourself.
Sharing your story is no easy task. Whether you are openly LGBT or not, know that you are not alone. Know that there is a community of people out there with similar stories. Our stories are our strength. It is what allows us to break barriers and build bridges between one another. Unconditional love and empathy for one another is what will allow each of us to cross the bridge of compassion.
“I did have a lot of support and love. I just needed to find the courage to bring it out and share it with someone, at least one person I was really close with, and that person was my sister.”Miguel Diaz