Copywriter and graphic designer Carina Maggar, whose second book, Countless Sleepless Nights: A Collection of Coming-Out Stories (Laurence King Publishing), releases in March, spoke with PW about the endless nature of her own coming-out, why it was paramount that her book include stories from people from around the globe, and the importance of her subjects’ anonymity.

In the introduction to Countless Sleepless Nights, you write that for you, coming out is something that never really ends—you have to do it whenever you meet someone new. Was putting this anthology together a part of your own ongoing coming-out journey?

I don’t feel like Countless Sleepless Nights has anything to do with my coming-out journey, other than the fact that I had to recount my experience of realizing it within myself and telling others for the first time in my early 20s. This book is about others; it represents lots of different journeys and outcomes from people of many different backgrounds. My journey has ended—the coming-out to myself, that is. Having to declare it to strangers every day is just this annoying thing I have to do.

You spoke with 85 people in 16 different countries, including Hungary, Brazil, and Kuwait. How did you go about finding people to interview, and why was it important to you to represent so many different cultures?

I discovered a lot of the people through social media. I'd interview them and ask them to "pass it on," which led to many new connections I wouldn't have made otherwise. It was very important for me to represent a selection of races, religions, ages, and cultures because no coming-out experience is alike; everyone’s is unique. I was also interested in knowing what it’s like to be a gay woman living in Russia, for example; that's not something I have firsthand experience with. So partly I wanted to educate myself and partly it was pure curiosity. How could someone so similar to me, in so many ways, have such a different experience?

Some of the contributors had to remain anonymous for their safety, but why did you choose to make all of the stories anonymous, especially when the idea of coming out is to step out of the shadows and declare who you are?

I thought it was only fair to treat everyone's story the same way, out of respect and compassion for those who might want to reveal their truth but simply cannot. It would be cruel to name half the people in the book and not the others. It sort of feels a little like rubbing salt in the wound. Yes, coming out is all about embracing yourself if it's safe to do so, but many people around the world will never have that opportunity out of fear for their lives.

What do you most hope people will take away from this book, both those within the LGBTQ+ community and those outside of it?

Gayness isn’t something that only happens in certain countries; it happens all around the world whether it’s legal or illegal. It’s part of being human. For those who aren't part of the LGBTQ+ community, I hope they will sympathize with the struggles involved in coming out. It's hard to relate to the experience of a community you are not part of, so I'm hoping the book will provide some insight. The world doesn’t make it easy to embrace who you are. Religions, cultures, the death penalty in 12 countries—all these factors prevent people from living an authentic and happy life. For those who are part of the community, I hope they take solace in the fact that they’re not alone and that while everyone’s journey is unique, we still share a unified experience.