October 11 is National Coming Out Day (NCOD) and HBS is participating in events that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community throughout October as part of the broader LGBTQ+ History Month—a month focused on acknowledging and celebrating the history, political activism, and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender nonconforming, and queer communities.

Here, current HBS students share their personal stories through the National Coming Out Day storyboard series organized by the HBS PRIDE Club. We accept everyone in any stage of their coming out process and hope that you will be inspired by the stories of these students. Visit @prideathbs on Instagram for more information and features about the LGBTQ+ community at HBS.

Yanzhan Wen (he/him), Class of 2025

Representation is important. My existence stands as a testament to that truth.

Growing up in a socially conservative household, I was taught that homosexuality was akin to a mental defect. Simultaneously, I endured over a decade of relentless homophobic taunts from bullies at school. Having such a fundamental aspect of my identity consistently impugned and maligned by those around me left me in a profound state of depression. Night after night, I laid in bed, agonizingly questioned myself: "Why can't I just be seen as normal? Why can't I be straight? What's wrong with me?"

However, what consistently fueled my determination to confront the challenges of each new day were the LGBTQ+ role models within my community and in the media. They exemplified that success was not only attainable despite their differences but often because of them. Moreover, they showcased the transformative power of grace and resilience when facing adversity, demonstrating that with time, these qualities would yield positive outcomes. Their embodiment of such values became a beacon of hope, fortifying my spirit and endowing me with the strength to persevere day by day.

Several more years passed before I relocated to Boston for employment, following the completion of my undergraduate education. It marked a fresh beginning, a place where I finally felt at ease in embracing my authentic self. I came out as gay to my friends, colleagues, and members of the broader community. Despite continuing to face personal and professional challenges stemming from my sexual orientation, my commitment to using my voice and platform to uplift and empower individuals within the LGBTQ+ community has only grown stronger.

This National Coming Out Day is particularly salient, especially in the face of renewed attacks against the LGBTQ+ community. Coming out is an ongoing journey, and each time I share my identity as a gay person with someone, it feels like I am reclaiming my true self and dismantling the façade I once wore. I persistently share my personal experiences, striving to instill hope in those who find themselves in need of it. I do this because I comprehend the profound significance of representation.

Roch Desrousseaux (he/him), Class of 2025

It took me 28 years to come out.

For 28 years, I tried to convince myself that I wasn't gay. I even had a girlfriend whom I introduced to my traditional and Catholic parents, hoping to reassure them that I was the son they believed they had. I enrolled in the military reserve in France, trying to prove to myself that I was "man" enough.

My delay in coming out was due to the constant battle between my sexuality and my faith. In 2023, could I still be loved by God when so many of my fellow Christians considered my sexuality immoral?

Eventually, I'd had enough and came out. I had spent too much time in the closet.

I can still vividly recall the time, place, and reactions of those dear to me when I came out. To my parents, it was on September 17th, 2021. We were having dinner when I said, "I have a boyfriend in Madrid." There were tears, questions, hugs, and ultimately, love.

For anyone reading this and still in the closet, it's okay. Move at your own pace. You don't need to come out today or even next year. But when you do, it will be worth it.

Matt Wood (he/him), Class of 2024

Coming out as queer felt like I was finally given the agency and authorship I needed to write how I wanted my personal and professional life to unfold. Because when you grow up on the more eccentric and feminine side of certain social norms, it can feel like your adolescence is a long catch-up game to understand how the outside world already sees and values you.

I found language for otherness through dance. During a 5th-grade talent show, a classmate’s mother walked up to me and recommended that I join the local dance studio. Out of all the boys, she said I would benefit the most… and in that coded language, I understood what she was trying to say. My cover had been blown at ten years of age.

Queerness to me is not a static concept of gender or sexuality. For me, it’s a constant conversation of how I want to build community and show up radically in the spaces I exist in. I was raised by a strong single mother who taught me how to stand fast in my values and in a pair of strappy heels. I was also raised seeing my sister come out years before me and open the door for how siblinghood and queerness could intersect.

I’m grateful every day for a family that supports my path, and feel a deep calling to make sure others feel the same thing.