MTV’s “Coming Out” airs tonight

To celebrate National Coming out Day, MTV is premiering the appropriately titled Coming Out tonight. It’s a sensitive, well done slice of reality programming that follows two 21-year-olds, Rachael and Nevin.

Each has a slightly different dilemma, but both stories will resonate with anyone who has taken this scary but important step. Rachael is contemplating coming out to her estranged father and worries that if he doesn’t accept her orientation, her relationship with her father and brothers will be cut off permanently. Nevin, a lifelong athlete, is steeling himself to come out to his macho college rugby team and worried about being ostracized.

In a sign of times changing for the better, both Nevin and Rachael have great people around them for support. Rachael’s mom is unflappably accepting of her daughter’s orientation, mentioning that it was no huge surprise, and Rachael’s girlfriend seems like a solid and positive presence in her life, wisely cautioning Rachael against planning to cut her father out entirely if he doesn’t react well.

Nevin’s dad and stepmom are just terrific – they talk about him with unmitigated pride and Nevin’s dad even drives him to the rugby practice at which he plans to come out. This video would make a useful required viewing portion of parenting classes.

It’s reassuring to see that both Rachel and Nevin have such good support networks at home, as neither has entirely smooth sailing ahead, and Coming Out acknowledges that some parts of the country have a lot of catching up to do; at one point, Nevin and his dad pass a billboard that reads “HELL IS REAL.”

The documentary also doesn’t shy away from how scary coming out can be. Both Rachael and Nevin are painfully anxious about coming out when the moment arrives, even though they’re already out to the family members they’re closest to.

That said, Coming Out does a good job of reminding members of the LGBT community why being out is so important. Nevin’s high school football buddies are open about the fact that learning that they had a gay friend made them understand that gay people aren’t so scary and casual homophobic comments can do more damage than they had thought. And it’s clear that both Nevin and Rachael have had huge burdens lifted when the deed is finally done.

Watch a clip from Coming Out below:


Happy Coming Out Day.

Coming Out premieres on MTV tonight at 7 p.m.