Coming out is hard. Having supportive parents makes it much easier.
After 17-year-old Kinsey came out to her parents, they decided they wanted to do something special for her to show her just how much she means to them.
Coming out can be a stressful and daunting task, no matter how easygoing your friends and family might seem.
Aside from being a teenager who had just come out to her parents, Kinsey also suffers from a debilitating medical condition called gastroparesis, which affects how she digests food. Like many conditions that occur in the stomach, it gets worse when the afflicted person is overly stressed.
To celebrate such a huge, stressful weight being lifted off their daughter's shoulders, Kinsey's parents decided to throw her a surprise pride coming out party.
"I decided to throw the party for Kinsey because I wanted her to know that her family loves her and we are 100% behind her," Allison, Kinsey's mom, said.
"We are hopeful that her coming out will help to alleviate some of her stress so she can lead a healthier life as she enters her senior year in high school," Allison told Welcometoterranova.
To keep the party for Kinsey a surprise, her parents told her it was an early Fourth of July party and sent her to the mall with her cousin while they got everything ready.
"My extended family wasn't sure if Kinsey would appreciate the party or be embarrassed, but her father and I were pretty confident that she would appreciate the thought," Allison told Welcometoterranova.
The house was decked out with rainbow decorations, rainbow food (all vegan for Kinsey), and the pièce de résistance, a cake that had an Independence Day-theme on the outside but hidden rainbow layers on the inside.
When Kinsey walked in the door, Allison says it was hard to read her expression at first.
"I sensed her confusion since she was expecting an Independence Day themed party," Allison told Welcometoterranova.
"But as she noticed the rainbow pasta, rainbow grilled veggies, and rainbow fruit salad on the table, I could see the smile spread across her face."
"I had no idea," Kinsey told Welcometoterranova, "because we often get together with family around July Fourth time, so I didn't think much of it. But we came home and they were all there, my parents, my brother, my aunt and her entire family, and my grandparents. I didn't even have makeup on or anything!"
In sharing her excitement and openness about the coming out party online, Kinsey sparked a second, virtual pride party.
Thousands of people have liked the pictures of Kinsey's surPRIDE party (as her cousin nicknamed it). She's received tons of supportive comments and messages from other people admitting their own fears about coming out to their families.
The responses were overwhelmingly positive, and Kinsey was thrilled to receive them, and of course the surPride in general, especially in light of the Pulse shooting in Orlando in June.
"I think a pivotal moment was when my mom and I were touring colleges in Massachusetts a few weeks ago," Kinsey said. "In North Hampton, we went to a vigil for Orlando; we just happened upon it. That was pretty moving for both of us."
While Kinsey's coming out process ended up being an overwhelmingly positive experience, she wasn't always sure it would go the way it did.
"They actually asked me [if I was gay]," Kinsey told Welcometoterranova. "We basically had a long conversation, and then they gave me a big hug."
Kinsey says she recognizes that not everyone who decides to come out to their family is as fortunate as she is, and with that in mind, she doesn't want others to measure their story to hers.
"I wasn't positive [my parents would] be OK with it. I knew they were OK with the LGBT community, but firsthand experiences are always different," Kinsey explained.
Kinsey hopes her story will be a light to those who are struggling with the decision to come out.
"I do hope that it brings some hope and light to the community. But you do have to take into consideration your own situation because everyone's going to have different reactions," Kinsey told Welcometoterranova.
There is a great web of support out there in the community, even for those who might not find it in their own homes. And just remember, if you're planning on coming out anytime soon — your coming out experience doesn't have to come with rainbow Independence-Day-themed cake to be special. But it certainly doesn't hurt.