I’m thrilled to announce that today I will be interviewing my friend John Hansen about his new website, Coming Out Cards! You may know John from Teens Can Write, Too! – he’s one of its founders! This new website, however, has nothing to do with writing… it’s all about supporting LGBTQ+ people who’ve just come out!
A couple of months ago, John asked for my input on a project he was working on, and he showed me the initial designs for Coming Out Cards. He’s trying to get some big LGBTQ+ news sites to talk about the website, but in the meantime I offered to do a promo post in the form of an interview!
But first of all, let me explain what the Coming Out Cards are! According to the website, Coming Out Cards are “funny, empathetic ecards designed to reaffirm your support for a friend or close family member who has recently come out to you.”
And here’s a longer explanation from the About page:
“Often, there is something isolating about that day after coming out, at least in the beginning. Instances like these are what Coming Out Cards are for – an hour or a day or a week after a friend or family member has come out to you, when that person might well be feeling worried for the future. These cards are little ways for you to remind them that you support them, that this doesn’t change anything, that you understand what they’re going through and that you’re there for them.
In this way, Coming Out Cards are above all empathetic. Instead of feeling overly sentimental, they are conversational and (hopefully!) funny, so that the person on the receiving end will realize that your relationship is as strong as ever.
Still, Coming Out Cards are useful whether or not the person is deeply struggling. Even if they’ve been out to others for a long time, receiving these cards will, if all goes well, brighten their day.”
At the moment, there are ten Coming Out Cards designed with a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities in mind, and they are ALL free to download. (You can browse the cards right here.) Each card even comes with a “best sent from” and “best sent to” feature, making it easy for you to decide which card is appropriate for your friend or family member!
…and now it is time for THE INTERVIEW.
Engie: Sooooo, I guess my first question is… what prompted you to make the Coming Out Cards?
John: It started out as a random idea – me passively thinking that it would be so cool to have positive greeting cards geared toward coming out, since we have greeting cards for so many other life events. Then, as the idea grew, I started thinking about how amazing it would have been to receive a greeting card like that after I came out, since I think for a lot of queer people – and especially ones who, like me, were pretty terrified to come out – simple reaffirmations of support can go a long way. So I decided to make cards that say, in essence, “I understand, I care, I’m here for you,” except in funny ways. Thus, Coming Out Cards were born.
Engie: I definitely think it’s important to show support when someone comes out to you – whether you’re straight or queer. And I looooove how cute and silly and lighthearted these cards are. Because I think coming out makes a lot of people nervous, you know? Whether they’re the one coming out or whether someone is coming out to them. It can be a very scary, weird, awkward situation, and possibly something they’ve never experienced before. So I think something funny really helps to… diffuse the tension in that situation, I guess?And I would hope that if someone had any lingering doubt/worry/awkward feelings about coming out to someone, receiving a dorky card after doing so might help? It definitely would’ve helped me. I was soooooo stressed.
John: That’s exactly what I was going for. And I also think there’s something really empathetic about sending dorky cards or making dorky jokes or whatever it is after someone comes out to you–to me it shows that you understand that this is hard, and that through these fun little mediums you want them to feel comfortable and know they’re supported. There’s something really amazing about that.
Engie: I think making jokes – and just trying to be comforting, I guess, but in a funny way – is already a big part of what my LGBTQ+ friends and I do. But these cards work well for allies, too. I think a lot of straight people support us, but maybe don’t know how to do so or where to start. And sending a Coming Out Card might help. I mean, it’s a good start, right? Because it creates an opportunity to have a conversation about this. It’s SO AWKWARD to come out to someone and then they never ever mention it again – I always end up feeling like it didn’t happen, or like it doesn’t matter to them, even though it probably does. Because it just feels weird to have it be a one-time thing, because being queer isn’t something I do once. It’s a big part of my life.
John: In theory it’s nice when people barely acknowledge that you came out, but in practice it’s very… awkward, at least in my experience. Coming out is still a really big deal, and when people never mention or acknowledge it after that first time, you tend to start reading too far into it. Do they think it’s weird? Do they think it’s wrong? Et cetera. And so by just addressing a little bit at the time, especially by addressing it in a light-hearted way as I think the cards will do, you can make someone feel a lot more comfortable. Because your sexuality is a very big part of you. Ignoring it is ignoring a big part of your friend or family member’s identity and experiences.
Engie: Telling allies to just start SOMEWHERE is a big thing for me. Just start! You may not be completely sure of yourself, and you’re probably gonna mess up at some point, but do something. Start small, if you have to. I think sending a card to someone who didn’t even think they’d receive anything other than a “well, OK then, thanks for telling me” reaction is a lovely thing to do.
John: Yes, I completely agree with you!
John: I think the one I’d most like to receive is the “I know you don’t want me to treat you any differently” one, because to me it feels supportive, light-hearted, and genuine all at once. But the one that I personally like the best is for sure the nonbinary ice cream cake one.
Engie: BECAUSE FOOD.
John: ALL THE FOOD FOREVER.
Engie: I’m really glad these cards cover so many identities! Like… by no means do they cover ALL identities, but when you originally told me you were making these I thought they’d just be for gay people? But there’s an asexual card! And stuff about the gender binary! Aaaaaand bringing the conversation back to a topic we discussed earlier… you could send these cards to people to show that really, you do understand. It’s hard enough to come out as gay or lesbian – what must it be like to come out as something most people haven’t even heard of before, much less understand? It would be awesome to get a card from someone and be like, “Oh, yay, I don’t have to explain MY VERY IDENTITY to this person. They get it. They understand that I am the ice cream cake of humanity. Figuratively speaking, that is.”
John: Hearing what you have to say re: the asexual and nonbinary ecards makes me so happy. That’s what I was going for! I figured that everyone knows what it means to be gay or lesbian, so I didn’t make any ecards using those specific words. I made a bunch of cards that could apply to any queer person, and then specific ones for identities that still have really strong stigmas for exactly that reason – I wanted it to be a way for the recipient to see a card from their friend and think, “OH MY GOD, they get it.” When someone else gets you, that’s just an amazing feeling.
Engie: Are you planning to add any Coming Out Cards? And would you take suggestions from people?!
John: Yes, definitely! I haven’t started working on any new ones yet – I mostly want to gauge the reaction to this batch of ecards, and hopefully get the word out – but if people want more, I’ll definitely make more. And of course suggestions are always welcome.
John: I mean, I’d really like to make a card for ALL fictional queer characters for being so attractive and brave. But I would probably choose Blue and Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, mostly so I can blackmail Simon into disappearing for a while so Blue and I can have the star-studded romance we were always destined to have.
Engie: Pfffft, nice. I’d send the superqueero card – which is my favorite, by the way – to Professor X and Magneto. And Captain America CLEARLY needs the bisexual card! (Although I suppose he would just punch biphobes in the face. And for a while he’d be like, “Email? What’s that?”) And… well crap, now I wish ALL the Marvel Comics and MCU characters were real so I could send them these cards, because I headcanon so so sooooo many of them as queer. And I’d send them to various ladies on Game of Thrones, because I ship a ridiculous number of F/F pairings on that show – especially Margaery/Sansa and Brienne/Cat! And and and I’d send one to Charlie Weasley because I quite like the idea of asexual!Charlie. UGH SO MANY FICTIONAL CHARACTERS AAAAAAH. Anyway. Thanks for letting me interview you!
John: Thank you so much for having me! You rock!
Engie: No problem! I’m sooooo glad that you asked me for my opinion when you were making the cards, because they’re cute and silly and AJKSHFAKJSHFAJKHF. Hopefully they become super popular! They deserve it!
John: That would definitely be awesome.
Thanks again for the interview, John! And thanks for making these cards in the first place! Hopefully, they make people feel happier and less stressed after coming out! I hope they initiate some good discussions, too. And most of all, they’re REALLY FREAKING ADORABLE! I think we all know who the real superqueero is… you!
Readers, now it’s your turn: Would you have appreciated a Coming Out Card? Are there any that you think would be absolutely PERFECT to send to someone you know?
…and which Coming Out Card would you send to an LGBTQ+ fictional character?! I’d love to know!