8 Most Memorable Coming Out Scenes On TV
Do you remember when you first saw these coming out scenes?
Credit: Alex Holyoake
Over the Christmas holidays, I binge-watched Parenthood with my family (mainly because I’m obsessed with Lauren Graham) and I was delighted to see one of the characters come out in its 5th season—even if it was only a storyline for one episode before she left for college again.
That scene got me thinking about my favorite coming out scenes for women on US TV and I wanted to share them with you.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
1. Emily: Pretty Little Liars
Emily is understandably worried about her strict family’s reaction to her coming out. In fact, she’s so “jumpy” that her dad believes that she is being harassed by Toby until she explains that she was actually gay and afraid of her parents’ reaction. Worse still, the scene cut to commercial before her dad could say anything. When the show returned, Emily’s parents are discussing the matter while she eavesdrops from the stairs. Her father is sympathetic (by comparison) explaining that this is just who Emily is and he’s just grateful that she’s alive and healthy, while her mother asks how they can fix her and blames Maya for turning Emily gay.
Even those who came up to a supportive and loving family will know how Emily feels as she builds up the courage to tell her dad.
2. Santana: Glee
The Santana/Brittany storyline hit me hard when I first watched it because I too was in love with a girl who was unavailable which made me hate myself and I was worried about coming out to conservative, religious grandparents.
So when Santana came out to her grandmother and got rejected, I cried. She’s being so strong and she just wants for her grandmother to accept her so that she doesn’t have to fight herself anymore but her grandmother just doesn’t care.
Side note: My grandparents didn’t act anything like Santana’s grandmother and I regretted not telling them sooner.
3. Maura: Transparent
At age 75, Maura is finally able to live her truth and comes out as transgender to her family. When she comes out to her daughter Sarah—after catching Sarah cheating on her husband with an old college girlfriend—Sarah asks if Maura will be dressing up as a woman from now on and she explains that she has in fact been dressing as a man for her entire life.
4. Haddie: Parenthood
Haddie's coming out was fairly understated in such a dramatic family. When she brought home her "super awesome best friend" Lauren in Season 5, the couple got caught kissing by her younger brother who relayed the story to their mom, Kristina. Now Kristina has always been a loving and supportive mom but she has a tendency to be slightly neurotic at times, so I worried that she would freak out! Luckily, Kristina began her speech to Haddie by saying that her parents will always be there for her before Haddie confirmed the relationship. When Haddie came out to her dad, it took him a while to understand (possibly because Haddie didn't use the word "bi", "pan", or anything else; instead, talking about her relationship with Lauren) but ultimately he was accepting of Haddie. It was also nice to see Haddie coming out three separate times (to her mum, dad, and cousin) because- as we all know- coming out is not a one and done thing.
5. Ellen: Ellen
I was only six when this episode aired, so I only watched this for the first time in the late 2000s. I’d heard about it beforehand- no queer lady can really escape the momentousness of this coming out scene which coincided with Ellen DeGeneres IRL coming out- and knew what happened but it is still touching to see.
Ellen came out originally to her therapist (played by
future US President Oprah) before doing the traditional rom-com dash to the airport to profess her feelings for Susan, albeit with the accidental triggering of a PA system that lets the whole airport know.
6. Callie: Grey's Anatomy
When Callie came out to her father, he responded by quoting bible verses at her, but our favorite doctor gave as a good as she got, reminding him of Jesus’ message of love. This scene is not the first time that Callie came out but it was empowering to see her stand up to her father; even if it did mean that he cut her off.
7. Alex: Supergirl
Alex umms and ahhs her way through coming out to Kara in a way that must strike a chord with a lot of queer people. It was certainly how I first came out- mumbling and not really making a lot of sense. Kara tries to clarify exactly what Alex is telling her but Alex doesn’t know herself and Kara accepts this. It doesn’t matter to her if Alex is gay or bi or pan, just that they’re friends.
8. Carmen: The L Word
Most of the characters in The L Word have already come out long ago, so this is the only “coming out” scene in the entire show. Unfortunately, when Carmen comes out during a family gathering and admits that her “friend” Shane is actually her girlfriend, her family doesn’t take the news well.
She’s chucked out by her mother and called selfish by her sisters for refusing to hide any longer. Geez.
What are your favorite female coming out scenes on US TV? Would you like to see a follow-up piece for female coming out scenes in films or TV in other parts of the world? Let me know in the comments below.