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It’s never too late to bloom

By Kobo • June 16, 2024Big Ideas in Books

The time is always right to start living your truest life

Often when we think of someone discovering who they really are, we imagine a teenager finding the identity from which their adult self will emerge. But many will travel down the path of adulthood only to realize after many years that they've ended up someplace they don't belong. These books on coming out in adulthood contain stories, reflections, and revelations told by people making their way towards who they’re meant to be.

The Family Outing: A Memoir by Jessi Hempel

Behind a white picket fence-appearance, Jessi Hempel’s family was straining at the seams, with a dad always away on business and a lonely mother being crushed by the weight of trauma-induced mental illness. Yet as her parents and siblings revealed the secret selves they’d been hiding, the seams held. This is a riveting exploration of love, identity, and the courage it takes to be true to oneself in the face of deep-rooted expectations.

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Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family by Rowan Jetté Knox

A heartfelt, often funny story about a family working through first a child, then a parent coming out as transgender, and how they all embraced the cause of trans rights, fueled by the love and happiness of finally living in their truths.

The story doesn’t end with this book: we spoke with Rowan Jetté Knox about the sequel One Sunny Afternoon on the Kobo in Conversation podcast.

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Fashionably Late: Gay, Bi, and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life by Vinnie Kinsella, ed.

A collection of first-hand accounts of men who came out later in life. They share their own unique experiences, of divorce, exploration, dating, and finding their way to themselves.

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Coming Out to Play by Robbie Rogers with Eric Marcus

"I'm a soccer player, I'm Christian, and I'm gay. Those are things that people might say wouldn't go well together. But my family raised me to be an individual and to stand up for what I believe in." With those words, a 25-year-old Robbie Rogers ever so slightly remade the world’s image of a pro footballer. Three months later Rogers would make history as the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league.

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Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Through her blog and in her 2016 memoir Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle had established her persona as a wife and mother—and someone with a willingness to fight for relationships that matter. In Untamed, Doyle confronts the relationship she’d been ignoring, though it was the one that most needed her to fight for it: her relationship to herself. In Untamed, Doyle shares the story of her post-divorce, post coming-out epiphany, that self-sacrifice is not an inherent virtue, boundaries help us conserve our best self for when we most need it, and we all need to be able to recognize the face looking back at us in the mirror.

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Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole, and Living Free from Shame by Vicky Beeching

While enjoying the heights of success as a Christian singer-songwriter, playing to packed evangelical megachurches in the US and UK, Vicky Beeching was hiding a secret that would end up costing her not only her career, but her community, her safety, and for a while even her health.

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Missed Connections: A Memoir in Letters Never Sent by Brian Francis

At 21, Brian Francis went looking for love in the personal ads section of a local newspaper (it was the 90s). Of the twenty-five responses he got, he replied to only twelve. In 2021 he published his replies to the other thirteen, which he’d kept in a cardboard box all these years. This is a touching, funny book about all the pieces of the past we accumulate over time and as we grow.

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The Old Gays Guide to the Good Life: Lessons Learned About Love and Death, Sex and Sin, and Saving the Best for Last by Mick Peterson, Bill Lyons, Robert Reeves, and Jessay Martin

TikTok’s @oldgays share their stories in this shared memoir of finding themselves and eventually each other. While they’ve each been out to varying degrees for decades, the meaning of being out, the richness of the life you could expect to live as an “openly gay man”, has changed in their lifetimes in ways they might only have dreamed of as adolescents. The quartet’s story inspires as they share memories from before Stonewall, through the devastation of AIDS, to the mainstream celebration of every colour in the LGBTQIA+ rainbow.

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Photograph: Barry J Holmes/The Observer

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