“I put a Lady Gaga playlist in the background for encouragement.”
Photographer Alejandro Ibarra's portrait series Coming Out Stories shares the emotional stories of how people came out to their loved ones. During studio sessions, Ibarra photographs his subjects, then asks them to write about their experiences right on the photos.
Leo, now 25, came out at 18.
"I never planned on coming out. But after my friend kissed me, I know I wanted to feel that passion again."
BuzzFeed News spoke with Ibarra about what this project means to him and why he started it:
"I was out drinking one night with some friends and a friend was telling me about how he had recently come out to his family. Then I told him my story, and I noticed that even though we had completely different experiences, they were somehow very relatable.
I really wanted to make a project in which I could give the members of the community a platform on which they could express themselves. It's my hope this project can do that for people the same way shows like Glee helped me come out. For people who don’t identify as LGBTQ+, my hope is that they can sympathize with the stories, and become allies of the community if they aren’t already.
I think most people, if not everyone, desire to feel accepted, respected, loved, and have the freedom to love and express who they are, no matter what they identify as. I think the stories in this project touch on all of these things. Unfortunately, there are many people who are struggling to come out because of the consequences that can have on their environment (work, family, etc.) — who need to feel heard and to feel some kind of support and empowerment."
Cole, now 24, came out at 17.
"Two weeks after I came out to my dad, he set me up with my first girlfriend."