What It's Like to "Come Out"

Vicky and Charisse, co-founders of dapper boi, and married couple. dapperboi.com

What It's Like to "Come Out"

In Honor of National Coming Out Day

Penned By: The Dapper Boi Crew

As an LGBTQ+ owned and operated business, many of us in DB crew have shared experiences—like coming out stories. Some serve as beautiful examples of love and acceptance, and some showcase the adversity that comes along with being “different.” But, they’re shared experiences nonetheless. 

Coming out stories are important. They need to be heard. Because one of the best things we can do as a society is empathize with one another—remind one another we all come from the same place. That’s where real change starts. It’s on us to make it a place of love.  


Vicky, Co-Founder & CEO

It feels like a lifetime ago, but there was a time that I used to date men.  I only had one serious boyfriend, but I definitely had my fair share of dates that never went anywhere. Then I moved here to San Diego from upstate NY after college. Within a year, I was in my first relationship with a woman.  We kept our relationship a secret for 4½ years, and when we broke up, I was heartbroken. I needed my family and knew it was time for me to tell them the truth.  

I’ll never forget it—sitting in the car, nervous as hell to make the call back home to my parents. I asked them to put the phone on speaker. Through tears I told them that my “roommate” was actually my girlfriend and that we had broken up. They were silent for a moment and then my mom said, “Vicky, we were waiting for you to tell us.”  They were so supportive and reinstated how much they loved me and supported me, no matter what.  It was such a huge relief. I know there are so many people out there that have terrible coming out experiences. I’m one of the lucky ones. And, I’m not sure what I would have done without the love, understanding, and kindness of friends and family.  

I feel that people shouldn’t need to “come out” anymore. There shouldn’t be so much pressure on selecting a gender to date. Let people live their authentic lives without judgment. Let people love who they want to love. I am so happy to see that times are changing. I know that with a little confidence and community, we will get there!

Charisse, Co-Founder & COO

Growing up, I remember being more attracted to the Disney princesses than the princes. But up until my mid 20’s, I only dated men. One night, I went out with friends and saw a girl from my high school that I recognized and totally had a crush on. I got enough nerve to strike up a conversation with her and asked for her number, initially thinking it would be more so on a friend level, even though I knew she was a lesbian. We texted constantly and I started realizing that I was anticipating her texts. The night before my 24th birthday, we agreed to meet up at a bar and when I walked in, I saw her kissing another girl. The next morning, I remember crying my eyes out. It wasn’t necessarily because I was heartbroken, but because of the realization that I could be a lesbian. It was such a shock to go 20+ years thinking I was heterosexual and then possibly having another sexual identity. I was overwhelmed.  
A few months later I started dating another girl. Eventually, she broke my heart so deeply that I decided to take the pain and have a learning experience. I decided that it was time to come out to my family. Being so “feminine” I think most people, family and friends included, thought it was just a phase. To be honest, I still sometimes feel like I have to prove to everyone that I am a legitimate lesbian! I also realized that the whole “coming out process” isn’t about just coming out to family. It’s about coming out to friends, coming out to co-workers, coming out to new people you meet. It is constant. Early on I decided that I was always going to be very nonchalant about it and I always casually mention in conversation something like…”my wife is…”  
Part of what made the coming out process easier for me is that my family loves my wife, Vicky. And with our 3-year old twins, we are so much more than our LGBTQ+ identities. We’re a happy, loving family. I am very fortunate to be living my own version of a fairytale.

Santana, Model

Since I was a little kid I remember going to my big brother’s bedroom every time he used to leave the house. I would try on all his clothes and play with his GI Joe’s, put on his colognes etc. Growing up I felt something was wrong with me. I remember when I was little I told this story to a girl to try to get a kiss from her. I told her that my doctor said that when I turn 100 years old that I would become a man and that way she could one day be my girl. I mean, what kid at the age of 10 comes up with that crazy story?!  
Growing up on a Caribbean island (Puerto Rico) it was hard to be LGBTQ. If you wanted to be part of the community you were a sinner and usually your own family disowned you. I grew up hating gay people and not because of my family. It was because of society.  
When I moved to California 14 years ago I started to navigate my own sexuality. At the age of 23 I came out as a lesbian. But I also didn’t understand the difference between gender and sexuality. I remember at one point during my lesbian life, I was anti trans folks, and I couldn’t understand why. Then, I started to follow trans stories and get more and more curious about it. As I evolved into who I was, I started dressing more masculine. Eventually, I only purchased men’s clothes, toiletries, and cologne. I wish Dapper Boi existed back then! I’d ask whoever I was dating at the time what would happen if I removed my breast surgically. Every time they would say they’d break up with me.  
I knew in order to not just survive but to thrive, I needed to learn and become who I truly was. January 25, 2017 was the first time I took hormones. The testosterone made me feel more alive than ever. When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t necessarily have the perfect body I envisioned, but I’ve never been happier in my own skin. Society sees me the way I see myself. I am working now on being the best son, brother, and boyfriend I can be. And my journey is just beginning.

Celeste, Operations Manager

Unfortunately, I was out-ed by a "friend" in college. My mother already had some suspicion and asked me numerous times if I was gay, but I would shrug it off. Fortunately, she and my family have always been very supportive of who I am. I am extremely grateful, because this is not the case for so many people in our community.

Mary, Model

I was 22 years old and far away from home living with my “friend” in Myrtle Beach, SC. When things took a turn and a breakup was inevitable, I had nowhere else to turn but my mother and father. With a broken heart and crying I picked up the phone. Dialed each number as slow as I could….  

Mom: Hello?

Me: Hey mom! (holding back tears)

Mom: What’s wrong?

Me: Crying, sobbing, explaining  

By this time my father got on the other phone and was listening with my mom.

Me: So, do you still love me?

Dad: You’re our daughter and we love you. And that’s all we know.

Mom: Yep, we love you no matter what. Now let’s get you home.

Vince, Senior Advisor

I became aware that I was “different” at an early age. I was lousy at sports and was teased for having feminine traits, sometimes mercilessly. I remember being beaten up for no reason. Back then, it still wasn’t socially acceptable to be anything other than straight. My loving parents tried to make me “more of a man” not because they hated gay people, but because they wanted me to have a good life.

I learned to gain acceptance by leveraging my talent and intelligence. Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of who I was—or who I was supposed to be. I knew that I was attracted to both sexes, and because it was the early 70s, I had experiences with both. But, I was never comfortable saying I was gay or straight. Eventually, I married and raised a family. I committed to my wife, our marriage, and our two beautiful kids. I reaped many rewards from this period of my life, none more important than the love between a father and his children. Unfortunately, divorce was inevitable, and I spent the next decade trying to figure out who I was as a result. I did have a couple of LTRs with men. But, I still felt uncomfortable, like I didn’t fit in anywhere. 

Today, I accept that I land somewhere in the middle of the sexuality spectrum. If someone questions my sexuality, my honest answer is, “I’m Vince.” Because in the end, I’ve learned it’s not about “what” we are. It’s about who we are. And I am who I’m supposed to be. I’m finally comfortable. I’m a loving father. I’m Vince.

Trish, Model & Contest Winner

I remember women catching my attention as early as 5 years-old. I didn’t understand why, because I’d only ever seen men and women together—in real life, in movies, everywhere. During a random conversation with my father once, I said, “One day when I grow up and turn into a boy…” He cut me off right there. He broke the news that I’d never turn into a boy. As a kid, I figured that was the only explanation for liking girls. I’d turn into a man and it would all make sense. But, we never spoke of it again.

Fast forward to high school graduation. I wrote my parents a letter and called all my good friends on the phone to tell them I was gay. I was terrible at not being anyone other than me and couldn’t take it anymore. Those who wanted to stick around were more than welcome, those who didn’t, would spare me and disappear. Best day of my life.

Dapper Boi

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