Jai Rodriguez, cast, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a 2003-2006 reality TV show
Coming out is personal. I came out on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. (I wasn't particularly brave; I didn't think anyone would see the show.) Before then, people didn't know. Being gay wasn't and isn't something that defines me.
The show forced me — it was titled Queer Eye. The word "queer," unique and with a positive power, helped. When the world celebrated the thing I thought I should hide — being gay — I embraced it. Queer Eye was the first all-gay cast on network TV. I won an Emmy Award for it. That's acceptance.
Dozens of men and women have told me that coming out was easier for them when the show was on because their parents went from not knowing any gays to inviting five gay men into their homes via television.
Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan, an anti-violence and advocacy group
LGBT people need to know that they have a safe space — that their families will be supportive and that their friends will talk to them about being LGBT. They should be aware of stresses and issues they will face. They need leaders who will stand up for them. That's what anyone needs to come out as gay, lesbian or transgender.
The more of us who come out, the more other people will feel comfortable coming out. We have to be visible.
It's time to stop apologizing for being ourselves. The world is on our side. Our rights are civil rights.
Cason Crane, adventurer and the first openly gay person to climb Mt. Everest
My coming-out was relatively easy; I grew up in an open-minded community with an accepting family. Despite this, I experienced name-calling because of my sexuality. I overcame it, but realized how lucky I was. Many young LGBT and questioning Americans face worse.
LGBT and questioning people need political protection and accepting communities.
Our country is quickly adopting more positive legal frameworks to ensure equal rights for LGBT people. But we need to match that with progress in our communities. Adult allies should offer support to young people who might need it in order to come out. Support can prevent suicides.
I hope for more progress, both politically and in communities, so that young LGBT Americans will be able to come out in a positive environment.
Wade Davis, director, You Can Play Project, a campaign dedicated to ending homophobia in sports
As a gay man and LGBT advocate, I'm not looking for "acceptance" because that language implies that I need to be tolerated and creates a dynamic where LGBT people are seen as "other." We should all celebrate and learn about our differences and should embrace the fact that we are all human beings. We need to create spaces that engage people in conversations where all points of view are valued, free from the fear of judgment. It is only through vulnerable and honest dialogue with one another that we can see each other as mirrors that reflect back our shared humanity.
Photo caption: Cason Crane