Today, October 11, marks a pivotal event — the 24th Annual National Coming Out Day. The goal of the day is for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies to celebrate coming out and encourage those who haven’t yet to make their voices heard. And in honor of this special day, we’re looking to the Pretty Little Liars character Emily Fields, who has become a respected emblem and advocate for equality, and looking back on her most poignant PLL moments as nominated by viewers!
Despite difficulties surrounding her sexual orientation — and all the backlash she received from family and classmates when she first came out — she remained brave throughout the process and stood her ground. Rarely has a fictional character inspired so many people around the world, but Em — who’s portrayed by the incredible Shay Mitchell — has achieved this and so much while embarking on her honest quest of self-identity and proudly loving who she wants to love with no regrets. So here’s to Emily for being the kind of person who faces adversity in the eye (and all the A mayhem) and valiantly rises above it.
Emily and AlisonIt takes a lot of guts to open yourself up to someone and Emily really took a big step when she kissed Alison DiLaurentis in the school library. It was at that moment she confirmed what Alison had suspected all along -- that Emily was gay and experiencing her first love.
Although Alison was a b*tch as times, and although she later rejected Emily's advances in the locker room and toyed with her feelings, we love this scene because it's Emily at her best. She's an honest girl who pure intentions -- and when she allows her personality shine and doesn't hold back, she truly shines!
The Photo Booth SceneEmily had just broken up with her boyfriend Ben and was having fuzzy feelings towards her new neighbor, Maya St. Germain. However, instead of setting her true feelings aside, Emily decided to accompany Maya to a party that night -- and the two lovebirds shared their first kiss. The photo booth was where Emily came to terms with who she was -- or least recognizing
Emily and PaigePaige McCullers seemed super homophobic in Pretty Little Liars Season 1. She made snide comments about Emily's orientation and even tried to drown her. She wasn't a bully -- she was a high school torturer.
However, that all changed when Paige -- in a completely shocking moment -- kissed Emily in her car and then bolted. However, the two later pursued a relationship and, although it was going well, Emily told Paige that she didn't want to be her secret -- to hide from the public eye and go on dates far from Rosewood so that no one would see them. Paige responded with, "Sorry, Emily — I’m not looking to join a club and ride down Main Street on a rainbow chopper." And that was that. Emily was sad to end the relationship but she knew it had to be done. She was out and proud and wanted to be with someone who felt the way (which is when she connected with Samara).
Luckily, Paige later came out to her parents -- and it was tough -- but we have a feeling Emily's beautiful, stirring words and support helped her get to that place. Actions speak louder than words and it's always nice to have a friend who cares about you that much. And Emily was all this and more for Paige!
Emily and Pam's JourneyTo be honest, Pam was not an advocate of Emily's sexual orientation at first. She even told her own daughter that the thought of her daughter being gay made her sick. However, when Mr. McCullers barged into the school cafeteria and claimed that Emily was getting special treatment from the swim team coach because of being gay, Pam didn't hold back. She told him off and rose to Emily's defense. "Emily, I still don't understand, but I love you. You're my child and nobody hurts my child," Pam told her daughter.
Although her journey towards accepting Emily for who she truly is has been slow, she has definitely grown supportive of her and loves her daughter unconditionally. And Emily never pressured her mom at all or hurried her along -- she was honest, earnest, and patienct and it paid off in the end!
Emily and WildenIn Pretty Little Liars Season 1, Detective Wilden snooped through Emily's bookbag and found a love letter addressed to Alison DiLaurentis. He then confronted Emily about it in front of all her friends. But did Emily shirk away and deny that it was indeed a letter she wrote? No way! She owned up to it -- and even though her coming out wasn't exactly what she imagined it to be -- she bravely told her friends about how she loved Alison in a different way than they did. And the beauty of it all that still moves us to tears? Her friends embraced her because she was still the same person. No questions asked -- just support and strength!
To add to the discussion, here’s an excerpt from an interview Shay Mitchell did with SheWired.com in May 2012 about playing a gay character on television:
First and foremost, Emily is just like the other pretty little liars. The thing that I loved most about how they (PLL’s producers) were going about this and how they spoke to me about character was that they said, “When you look at this poster (PLL promo), when you see a picture of all four of the girls together, not one stands out to be like oh that’s the one, that’s the gay character. That’s the lesbian one.” There was nothing like that. I absolutely loved that about the show.
Emily is Emily and she is a great person. She’s great because she’s loyal to her friends and she’s got a drive to her that shows off. Her swimming — she has a passion for that. She wants to make people feel better. All of those make her such a great person.
I knew going into the show, especially in the first season, that I would have a lot of questions about how I feel playing a gay character. I always responded to them, “I didn’t really think about it twice.” I’m really blessed to be raised in a family that told me that love is love and treat everybody how you want to be treated. My parents just raised us to be like that. It was never an issue to me. So when I saw that I would be playing a character that was gay, or who likes girls, or may change her mind, or whatever, I was like, “Cool, ok.” That would have been like telling me, “you’re character wears sunglasses.” I didn’t think about it.
So tell us: Do you have any stories to share about National Coming Out Day or helping a friend through a tough ordeal? What’s your favorite Emily Fields scene so far on Pretty Little Liars?