For Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, coming out as a gay man was an “evolutionary process.”
The 58-year-old says there was no grand moment in which he declared his identity, but his family and friends immediately knew from the moment they met him.
“I think most people who encountered me understood that I was a queer little boy and that I would grow up to be a queer man, which has happened. And I’m actually quite happy about it,” he says. “I actually never thought that I would find someone, fall in love, spend the rest of my life with them. I always thought I would just be a single gay man.”
In Coming Out Stories, a new video series from PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly, 16 LGBTQ people from all walks of life share how they opened up to friends, family and the world — and how their lives changed.
One inspiration for the series: the new movie Love, Simon (in theaters March 16), a moving comedy-drama about a gay teen (Nick Robinson) struggling with how to come out to his friends and parents (played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel). Love, Simon director Greg Berlanti (the producer behind TV’s Riverdale and Supergirl) tells his own coming out story in the series, as does costar Keiynan Lonsdale.
Others sharing their stories include Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Grey’s Anatomy actress Sara Ramirez, retired NBA player Jason Collins, social media star Tyler Oakley and Brooke Guinan, a New York City firefighter who is transgender.
PEOPLE and EW partnered with GLSEN, a nonprofit that fights to make schools safe for all kids, to create Coming Out Stories. See all the hilarious and heartbreaking tales at people.com/comingoutstories or on PeopleTV (download the app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device).