March 07, 2018 at 03:03 PM EST

NOTE FROM JESS CAGLE, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, PEOPLE AND ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:

In the moving comedy-drama Love, Simon (in theaters March 16) Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel star as the parents of Simon, a high schooler played by Nick Robinson who struggles to tell loved ones that he’s gay. Acceptance in America has increased dramatically in recent years, but coming out as LGBTQ is still a profound and often traumatic experience.

PEOPLE and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, along with GLSEN, the non-profit that fights to make schools safe for all kids, invited individuals from all walks of life to share real-life coming out stories. COMING OUT STORIES (produced by Ryan Buxton) can be seen at people.com/comingoutstories and on PeopleTV (download the app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device).

Ilene Chaiken’s life as a lesbian provided inspiration for her legendary TV show, The L Word.

Chaiken’s “first romance” with a woman ended in heartbreak, but the famed producer says the experience proved to be the perfect storyline for L Word characters Marina and Jenny.

“It was the same story,” Chaiken, 60, says. “After that, I was a lesbian. I knew it. I didn’t use the word. I think it took some time to come to terms with even calling myself gay … I just simply started living as a lesbian. I wasn’t a particularly bold person, but I just didn’t know how to lie.”

 

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