Madam Secretary Actress Sara Ramirez: Why I Came Out (After My Grey’s Anatomy Character Did!)

As doctor Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy, Sara Ramirez played one of TV’s groundbreaking bisexual characters — but “I didn’t know if I was ready to come out publicly,” says Ramirez, 42, who identifies as queer and bisexual herself.

Ramirez, who currently stars on CBS’s Madam Secretary, says hearing about continuing violence against the LGBTQ community, including the 2016 shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, convinced her she needed to speak out. She also shares how she told friends (during their movie night!) that she was about to share her truth with the world.

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.

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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 or on PeopleTV (download the app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device).