When I was a teenager, and still in the closet to most of my friends and family members, I would sometimes sneak off to the local Barnes & Noble to peruse its magazine section. There, I would find a copy of Out and read it in the aisle with both apprehension and joy. This strange mixture was due to the fact that in my hands was a physical declaration of my queerness. Would one of my mother's friends, seeking out a copy of Redbook, spot me holding the bold-faced "OUT" letters with a rugby stud posing underneath? Or would it be, as I had hoped, a cute guy to connect with -- someone like me?
I never did pick up a boy at the bookstore. But those pages opened up a world where LGBTQ+ people spoke openly -- and proudly -- about their identity. That was nothing short of a revelation for me. Up until that point, my instinct had been to hide who I was, from the Barbie dolls in my grandmother's attic to my crush on that guy in my A.P. History class. My world was "in," which felt safe. "Out" felt scary. But here, in these pages, it finally felt possible.
Because of this history, the Out100 has great significance to me -- particularly this issue of Out, which is the 300th in print (thanks for your support in making this milestone happen!). Inked on these sheets of paper are the faces and stories of possibility models for our community -- folks who decided that being "in" was not an option for them. Being out -- in their lives, professions, and the world -- is how change happens. It's how a life is fulfilled.
Not everyone is a celebrity in the Out100 -- although it dazzles me that there are prominent folks like Elliot Page moving the needle in the entertainment industry. To be an out figure of their stature is no small feat and a testament to how far the movement has come. But in this issue, we also profile the Storytellers, Groundbreakers, Disruptors, Artists, Educators, and Innovators who in their local communities or on the world stage made us proud this year. While this list is meant to honor these LGBTQ+ leaders and changemakers, it's also for you, dear readers. Especially, it's for that young person in the bookstore who dared to pick up these pages and imagine a brighter future. Happy reading.