NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY: Kirsten Vangsness on how she came out as queer

Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day, a day we celebrate every year in hopes of encouraging LGBT people and their allies to come out to the world. The social awareness holiday started 26 years ago on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, so we asked some of our favorites to share their own coming out experiences. Below,  television star Kirsten Vangsness shares her Coming Out Story.

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In high school I was in secret love with a guy named Ben and then a month later I was in secret love with a girl named Amy. I didn’t tell anyone because it was confusing to even me and I didn’t have a word for it. “Bisexual” didn’t resonate. (It still doesn’t exactly yet and I don’t know why).

When I was 30, I fell in crazy wonderful mad love at first sight with a woman named Melanie at a party. It was so obvious we were meant to be together and since all my friends were at the party I didn’t need to do a lot to come out—I came out in real time right then to myself and my whole world when I met her.

Melanie and I have since broken up and I have for now settled on identifying as “queer” since it fits me as best as I can come up with. I re-come out as I discover it myself, as I fall in love or I have a particularly enthusiastic make out session with a person- and then I will obsess and talk to my friends about it over brunch or walks or very verbose text exchanges. Where I live on the Kinsey scale much like most of me is something I am still learning about and it comes out as I do. —Kirsten Vangsness

Kirsten Vangsness plays Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds every Wednesday night on CBS.