GLAAD Campus Ambassadors share their #ComingOutAnthem

What’s your #ComingOutAnthem?!

In honor of National Coming Out Day, GLAAD is teaming up with our Campus Ambassadors by sharing their ‘coming out anthems’ and the stories behind the songs that empower them.

GLAAD Campus Ambassadors contribute to GLAAD’s mission of accelerating acceptance for LGBTQ people by advocating online and in their local communities. For National Coming Out Day, these Campus Ambassadors wanted to celebrate the songs that connect them to their coming out experience.

Campus Ambassadors will be the first to tell you how ‘coming out’ is complicated–if not fraught tradition. Yet, on this day, so many of us feel compelled to remember our rebellions against the mainstream way of life that was imposed on us. In many ways, acting straight and/or performing a gender that is not our own is forced on us as LGBTQ young people in order to get by and stay safe. These #ComingOutAnthem stories are a small piece of a larger mosaic that represents what it meant for so many of us to find opportunities, publicly or privately, to be ourselves.

    Join the GLAAD Campus Ambassadors and share your #ComingOutAnthem on social media. For inspiration, check out stories from our Campus Ambassadors below.

    Josua Lutian

    Colby College '18

    #ComingOutAnthem: "Shine" by Laura Izibor

    Coming out it is such a hard thing to do that shouldn't even be a thing in the first place. This song has helped me come to terms with how I feel about my sexuality and other parts of myself. In fact, it has been one of my favorite songs since I was young. The song resurfaced in my life when I started gaining the courage to come out to my friends. Izibor sings about finally taking control of your own life and letting yourself feel the positivity around you that you might not be able to notice initially. We always think too much about our decisions and sometimes it is worth taking the risk to just do what makes you happy. There's also something about her powerful vocals and the song's driving beat that never ceases to make me smile.

    Zakiyyah Forrest

    Armstrong State University ‘19

    #ComingOutAnthem: Everyone is Gay by A Great Big World

    My first pride ever, was when I was a freshman in college. It was the most incredible thing ever. I am lucky enough to have had my first pride be Atlanta Pride. They always have bands on the stage, and the night was ending, but me and my friends walked to the stage, and it had just rained, and the ground was soaked and muddy. Then the song started playing, and it reminded me that this was who I needed to be. While I was in High School, I was openly gay, however my time at home wasn’t a gay friendly environment. I didn’t date, didn’t attend any LGBT+ events, I wasn’t truly authentically myself. When I got to college, when I heard that song, I felt more like myself that day, then I ever did. I felt like I was becoming who I wanted to be, and I won’t ever look back. 

    Palmer Haasch

    University of Minnesota - Twin Cities '19

    #ComingOutAnthem: "Cut to the Feeling" by Carly Rae Jepsen

    I first heard “Cut To The Feeling” a couple weeks after I had moved to Los Angeles for the summer. I had only come out to my friends and certain members of my family several months before and had never lived somewhere where everyone that I regularly talked to knew that I was bisexual. LA the first place where I didn’t have to worry about what I could say or who I had come out to, and it was euphoric. “Cut To The Feeling” is my ‘coming out anthem’ for two reasons: First, because I so strongly associate it with the first time that I felt able to fully able to express my queerness, and second, because I feel like it perfectly expresses what it felt like for me to simply enjoy being queer. I tend to get caught up in my own insecurities and worries, but “Cut To The Feeling” makes me want to drop everything to simply revel in being happy and being myself.

    Ren Lane Gresbach

    University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee ‘20

    #ComingOutAnthem: Let's Hear It For The Boy by Deniece Williams

    If you couldn't tell from my name, I'm a pretty big fan of 80's movies, especially "Footloose", so "Let's Hear It For The Boy" is definitely one of my all-time favorites. It's pretty much impossible to not sing/dance along to this song, and it always brings me up when I'm feeling low. As a trans dude, the lyrics have always been super affirming too, especially back when I was closeted and first coming out, and was regularly misgendered. Hearing this song would always make me feel seen and a little more confident to go about my day. When I hear it now I remember coming to terms with my identity, and the joy I felt when I found one that fit. I hope you listen to this and feel valid, feel seen, and most importantly, feel like dancing. Let's hear it for the (trans) boys!

    Federico Yniguez

    California State University – Long Beach ‘21

    #ComingOutAnthem: Applause by Lady Gaga

    For me, the greatest gay icon of the twenty-first century, is Lady Gaga. I remember listening to her song Applause in ninth grade during the VMAs and was immediately hooked. I would play it repeatedly and listen every day. That song, in particular, for me was really a cornerstone in my self-discovery journey. Before coming out in junior year of high school, I would express myself through music but I never found my sound until I heard Applause. She’s so unapologetic about herself and I felt she said to me, “It doesn’t matter who you are or who you end up being, you are the star of your own life and no one can take that away from you.” It has had a special place in my heart since then because Gaga was my first role model. She doesn’t care how people perceive her and she doesn’t allow anyone to put labels on her. Applause led me to self-acceptance and self-expression by allowing my personality to shine around those that didn’t know. I don’t know where I would be without my Mother Monster and her hit Applause because she gave me the confidence to come out in eleventh grade.

    Rosey Mulvey

    Ithaca College ‘20

    #ComingOutAnthem: The Origin of Love from Hedwig and the Angry Inch by Stephen Trask

    This song has accompanied me through years of scream-singing with my friends throughout high school and college. Hedwig is such an important show for me and many of my friends. For some of my friends, it was their first exposure to LGBTQ+ content. I remember the Tony’s where Neil Patrick Harris performed as Hedwig and kissed his husband in the audience. I was so young then, and it meant so much to me to see another gay person express their love and their art at the same time without shame and with so much enthusiasm and fun. I have sung along to “The Origin of Love” dying of laughter and choked by tears. Seeing it live when Hedwig went on tour this past summer in Boston was incredible. This song and this show give me the catharsis I need at any given time, whether I need to cheer up or just cry. Love is a powerful thing, mixed up with so many emotions, and coming out with a song that can really embody that is very special.

    Julian Turner

    USC ’18

    #ComingOutAnthem: ***Flawless by Beyoncé

    I admit it may come off a bit stereotypical that a gay man would choose a Beyoncé song as his “coming out anthem.” That said, this song honestly saved my life. After years of depression, I had prepared to do what I couldn’t do before. On the night that I was going to finalize the act, I absentmindedly checked social media. To my surprise, Queen B had released an album. And on that album was “***Flawless,” a song about declaring your power and claiming your throne. Yes, it comes off as excessive at times and maybe too arrogant. But that confidence was what I needed on that cold night in December so I blasted it for hours. The following morning, I finally decided to start living for no one's approval but my own. Now, nearly four years later on the other side of depression, I'm happy to say that both I and the love I share are flawless.

    Noah Goodwin

    University of Mary Washington ‘18

    #ComingOutAnthem: Put Your Back N 2 It by Perfume Genius

    Perfume Genius is probably my favorite gay artist making music at the moment. His music and image are fraught with strength and tenderness, finding the beauty in that which is typically banal, exorcising the fear and judgement that come through moving in the world as an LGBTQ+ person. For me, this song is that which most encapsulates my essence as a gay person living today. This song, which is about the beauty and sensuousness found in queer love and sex is one that directly spoke to me - that there can be love without me hiding myself, that I don’t have to be afraid of who I am. I can still love and be loved, and my love is not worth any less because of my sexual orientation. In a world that is sometimes full to bursting with messages that I, as a gay person, am incapable of loving, or that my love is worth less than other peoples’, this song stands as a stark and harmonious reminder that my love is just as powerful. It is beautiful. It can move mountains.

    Owen Logios

    UConn '19

    #ComingOutAnthem: Born This Way by Lady Gaga

    As cheesy as it may be, Lady Gaga's Born This Way has inspired me to put my best and most authentic self forward, without limitations. I had always looked for camaraderie and belonging in those who were unapologetically queer like myself, but that dream can be hard to maintain at a cis-dominated, heteronormative university. But after attending New York Pride alongside GLAAD this past June and hearing that song blasting from the float, I knew I had found my community. I had always imagined the queer community in New York to be loud and proud, but living through it was pure magic. Seeing everyone in the city come together to belt the lyrics, "Don't hide yourself in regret / Just love yourself and you're set", along the parade route had me emotional, and so proud to be queer, trans, and ultimately, myself. Whenever I am doubting my identity in this emotionally-challenging political climate, I remember this moment, and I turn to this song to remind myself that no matter what, I can exist openly and proudly, without shame.

    Devin Outten

    University of Maryland Eastern Shore ‘18

    #ComingOutAnthem: I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry

    Oddly enough a song about kissing girls is what made me realize I was gay. I was at home alone messing around on the computer when I came across a video on YouTube that piqued my interest. Being the curious kid I was I clicked on it, the content of the video fascinated me and made me feel a way I had never felt before. I kissed a girl which was one of my favorite songs at the time and the main reason I clicked, was the song playing in the video. Me being only 11-12 I didn’t really know what to call what I was feeling but I knew what I was feeling and I knew that it was right. A couple years later I would find out the correct term for what I was and the rest is history.

    Mason Bernardo

    Western Washington University '21

    #ComingOutAnthem: Can't Sleep Love by Pentatonix

    This album and this song came out the year that I officially came out publicly. During some of the hardest times in my life, I'd listen to Pentatonix (specifically "Can't sleep love" and "light in the hallway"). I look up to all of the members of PTX, but especially Mitch Grassi. Mitch is super unapologetically himself and out. He was one of my first role models in the LGBTQIA community, showing that it's okay to be out and be yourself no matter what other people say or believe. PTX's songs are always fun to listen to, jam to, and always lift me up. They're an incredibly talented group of musicians, and a diverse and proud group of people. 

    Greg Gushiken

    University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa ʻ18

    #ComingOutAnthem: "This is Gospel" by Panic! At the Disco

    The first time I listened to “This is Gospel," the line "if you love me, let me go" pierced the ears of my queer conscience.  I had just graduated from the rigid rule of prep school prison and was elated to finally live authentically queer. When I came out,  I often felt the suffocating softness of expectations, fears, and dreams that, once so clear and concise, became ever complicated by my quiet, albeit life-changing, confession. In my swirling state of confusion and reconciliation, "This is Gospel” stood by me in poetic solidarity and became my doctrine. Calling to misfit metaphors and airless anxieties that echoed through my mind, the song imbued lessons of overcoming the fear of being imperfect, leaving behind the painful albeit well-intentioned weaponized words of those closest to us, and liberating myself in the pure bliss of moving on. Hearing this solemn gospel, I fondly recall moments of cathartic calamity and queer confession, drawing me to an uncertain albeit hopeful future, coming out and coming to terms with the eaves and flows of my true self.

    Therynn Ibert

    University of Houston '19

    #ComingOutAnthem: Ultralife by Oh Wonder

    I first heard this song when I was sitting in rain-induced traffic on the way to Houston Pride to volunteer at a booth at the festival there. I was considering pulling over and figuring out a way to turn around and go back home as the rain pounded at my windshield, but this song made me realize that I shouldn't stop. I was on my way to a place where I had genuine community and friends, and "Ultralife" reminded me that if I turned around, I was missing out on the opportunity to experience this. When I listen to this song now, I can reflect on the journey that has led me to become the person I am now. I can vividly remember the low of dealing with dysphoria before I got my first chest binder and the high of being called by my chosen name for the first time. No matter which way my journey takes me, I am reminded that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and that things will definitely get better.

    Kate Warner

    Point Loma Nazarene University ‘20

    #ComingOutAnthem: Follow by Brandi Carlile

    I first heard this song in high school, when I was coming to terms with my sexuality and thinking of coming out. I would drive around the small town I used to live in, outside of Washington D.C., and listen to this song over and over again. One day, when I worked up the courage to finally come out to my mom as bisexual, I never felt more truth than this song. Brandi’s lyrics, toward the end of the song, talk about who you used to be becoming nothing more than a distant memory. That’s how I feel now, that the torment of pretending to be something I’m not is nothing but a distant memory. Before I came out, I constantly lived my life in fear of what others would think of me if they knew who I truly was. There is genuinely nothing more freeing than living your life in the beauty of love and acceptance; in other words, accepting who you are and sharing that with the world. This song made me believe that there was a whole world of love and acceptance just waiting for me to find it, I just had to follow my heart to it.

    Leo Richardson

    Castleton University '19

    #ComingOutAnthem: The Reckoning by Levi Kreis

    This song speaks to me very deeply. I have always struggled with self confidence since I was young, and when I came out as Transgender it definitely was even more the case. This song touches on struggles that I have shared myself such as religion and eating disorders. However, the main line of the chorus "Now the day of reckoning is here" is the most powerful to me. I am unashamed of who I am, and I am and always will be a force to be reckoned with no matter what anyone else may thing of me. This is a song that I listen to whenever I feel more dysphoric than usual to remind me of how strong I am and how far I have come.

    Nicole Gemmiti

    Berklee College of Music ’19

    #ComingOutAnthem: Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

    This song is always the first that comes to mind when I remember the struggle of coming to terms with my sexuality. I remember listening to it with fondness when I was a child, and how the song became my own personal coming-of-age soundtrack around the age of 13. I was having such difficulty understanding what I was feeling, so I would sit alone in my room, play my guitar and sing Landslide, tearfully repeating lyrics about being afraid of changing and getting older. I actually feel as though I owe my coming out at such a young age to this song in particular. While coming of age and discovering my sexuality at the same time, it often felt like an overflowing landslide of emotions that I had no idea what to do with or how to approach in the slightest. This song gave me solace, and performing it over and over helped me to purge this onslaught of feeling in a way that gave me closure and confidence. Being a lesbian musician, music has always played an integral part in my acceptance of my queerness, and Landslide exemplifies that in the realest possible way.

    Tevis Robinson

    Columbia University ’20

    #ComingOutAnthem: What Would I Do – from the musical Falsettos

    I’m a Broadway fanatic, so clearly, I had to choose a Broadway song. Even though I had only been exposed to the musical Falsettos recently, it is one of the only revivals that has fantastic LGBTQ representation, making it a kind of humbling sentiment that this musical existed before I was even born to empower and educate the people of that time. Obviously, we as a society have progressed enough that this musical is not audacious or groundbreaking as it once was, but it still possesses an important message that never fails from giving me the hope that I’ll find my other half – not the one my upbringing deemed was appropriate, but the one my heart wanted and still yearns for. Therefore, I recommend the penultimate song of the musical, “What Would I Do,” to any person desiring another person to let them know that, regardless of gender, their feeling of love is valid. #LoveIsLove

    Harold Daniel

    Florida International University '18

    #ComingOutAnthem: Marry The Night by Lady Gaga

    The emancipation of coming out was a celebration of dignity that I cherish. “Marry The Night” represents marrying my dark past, insecurities and what was difficult about being lost in identity; having to portray two personas – at home and in school. I hold those struggles with me close to my heart. The church bells in the beginning of the song are my realization to break free from the weight of society. Once that dance beat hits, that 16-year-old builds the courage and bravery to take the world by storm. The song has this electric energy that pushes me to fight off all the negativity from the world. A representation of my ‘coming out’ era that made me out and proud.

    Riley McGrath

    Bridgewater State University '20

    #ComingOutAnthem: Who You Are by Jessie J.

    I heard this song for the first time in 2011 right around the time my parents divorced and I started questioning my sexuality. To me, this song represents my depression, anxiety, self-harm, and the long period of self-discovery that lasted until I realized I was trans in 2016. I used to put it on repeat while I processed my life and during all the late nights when I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered who I really was. This song, years later, taught me to look at myself with a bit more kindness, accept my mistakes, scars, and flaws and remember how far I’ve come in life. It gave me the courage to come out to my dad in 2015… and will again when I come out to him as trans. Though it has a sad undertone, it helps me remember how strong I am and the fact that my past has made me who I am today. Because of this song, I realized I didn’t have to be perfect, I just had to be who I am, inside and out.

    Post your own #ComingOutAnthem by using the hashtag and tagging @glaad on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr!