Coming Out Stories

As part of Coming Out Week in October, the LGBTQ Resource Center highlighted members of Mizzou’s community and shared their stories.

Headshot of Deb

Deb De La Haye (they/them)
Residence Hall Coordinator, Gateway Hall

“I first publicly came out during a Four Front Retreat my Junior year. That school year was transformative for me in a lot of ways, and when I graduated the next December I was terrified to leave behind the place where I had been able to explore my gender and sexuality. I ended up returning for grad school, and I was able to participate in and help build communal spaces for other LGBTQ people.

“My visibility and involvement in the LGBTQ Community have placed me in positions that allow me to push for inclusion. The most rewarding part for me is the students who reach out for assistance because my identities reflect theirs. Knowing that students have a place where they can feel safe to be themselves and find someone who will advocate for them makes showing up fully in a world that isn’t built for me a little easier.”

Headshot of Shane in front of a rainbow flag

Shane Stinson (he/him)
Student Support Specialist, Residential Life

“I’d like to think of coming out as a never ending journey. You can come out in various ways at different times for many of reasons.  Each time is unique in its own way and there are different levels of risk and reward involved with every moment. I came out as trans six years ago. I came out as queer ten years ago. It’s funny how coming outs can shift over time. The more I pass as a man, the more I have to come out as queer. When I present more feminine, the more I have to come out as trans. Sometimes I get to choose when I come out, other times I don’t. Sometimes it’s to one person, other times it’s been to thousands. Each time I come out it creates a new opportunity for support or harm to follow. 
“I consider myself incredibly lucky and privileged to have had the coming out experiences I’ve had. Mizzou has celebrated my many identities and I’m proud that this community has played such a large part in my coming out story. Remember that your coming out journey is your own. Don’t let anyone else tell you what path to take. Decide what is best for you and know that my love and support is always with you on your journey.”

Chelsea Drake headshot

Chelsea Drake (she/her)
Coordinator, Multicultural Center

“I am always thankful that I was able to come out safely, on my own terms, and in my own time.  Being a queer woman of color on this campus, I never take lightly the responsibility that I have for my community and my students who may have few other people to look up to who look like them.

Although I have no regrets about the timing of my own journey, I know that a lack of role models led me to stay quiet about my queerness for longer than I would have liked.  So I never forget that just existing as my full self and living a joyful life is my most powerful act.”