Instagram post highlights student’s coming out story


Lauren Kozel (right), junior in advertising, posted this photo to her Instagram profile to come out as bisexual.

Mary Pautsch

Out of boredom comes confidence.

Lauren Kozel, junior in advertising, posted a photo to Instagram a month ago of her holding a bisexual pride flag with the caption “In case you didn’t already know #NotNationalComingOutDay.”

Kozel was going to wait for Oct. 11, also known as National Coming Out Day. The day is for LGBTQIA+ people to “come out” as their gender or sexuality to whomever they like. Kozel, however, jumped the gun for a single reason.

“I was bored,” Kozel said.

The picture was taken of Kozel and her friend Claire Kirby, a student at Smith College, at the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago in August. Ever since, Kozel had the photo saved on her phone, but hesitated to post it.

“I really liked the photo, and obviously my friends knew I was bi, but there was still some people I hadn’t told yet,” Kozel said. “So I just waited.”

By September, Kozel had come out to the majority of her friends and her older brother, who was her only family follower on Instagram. 

On Sept. 10, Kozel had a free day, and said she was searching through old photos to edit and post on Instagram. Then, she stumbled across the infamous Lollapalooza photo.

“I just had a thought, and I texted some of my friends like, ‘Wouldn’t it be wild if I just posted this right now and came out?'” said Kozel.

Kozel’s friends, most of which identify as LGBT themselves, were immediately on board with the spontaneous choice.

“I was kind of joking at first,” Kozel said. “But then they really wanted to see me do it and I kind of wanted to see myself do it too, eventually. I figured why not.”

The picture was posted to Kozel’s profile and likes and comments came pouring through. Friends and followers of Kozel commented everything from “first like,” to words of support and love, to praise of the photo itself.

“I liked the picture because, yeah, it showed me able to be out and comfortable with my friends, but also it’s just a really cool pic,” Kozel said.

Kozel said reactions from the post have been completely positive. Most of those who follow her on Instagram are old high school classmates, friends from all over the world and individuals that she’s met at Iowa State since transferring here in the fall of 2016.

According to Kozel, these followers are for the most part open-minded. Her profile is private, so if she has any worries about the views of people trying to follow her, she can deny their access.

“Only people who I want to see my posts like that are people that I let see them,” Kozel said.

Now, on National Coming Out Day, Kozel said she feels more comfortable in her sexuality. She said she has been met with some confusion about bisexuality and what it means, but nothing has been hostile or attacking.

“I think there will still be some people who I just never outright tell, but I mean the information is out there,” Kozel said. “They can find out themselves if they really care that much.”

For Kozel, the coming out process has been long, but freeing. She first came out to close friends her sophomore year of high school, and before posting her Instagram photo mostly came out to small groups of people at a time. 

Kozel said good friends and resources helped her come to terms with being bisexual. She said most of her friends are either bisexual or gay, so it was easy to discuss things like sexuality.

“Actually in most of my friend groups, there’s a token straight person, rather than a token gay person,” Kozel said.

Looking back on her coming out journey, Kozel said she’s proud of herself.

“No shade at myself, but this time last year I would’ve been so scared of having an article about my sexuality, but now I literally don’t care. Nice,” Kozel said. “Character development.”