The first time I ever came out was to myself. It was written in a notebook and it took years for me to get to the point of making it real and seeing it on a piece of paper in front of me:
That was when I was 12 before dating ever crossed my mind. It was before I really knew what it all meant and before I dared to say it out loud.
Coming out came in steps for me. I’m incredibly grateful for how easy my coming out experience was, but it happened over many years.
By the time I was 15 I couldn’t hide it from my mom anymore. She was my best friend and I needed to tell her. I remember the night I knew I had to say it. I hadn’t said it out loud before and I knew I wanted her to be the first to hear it from me. I didn’t even know what to say, am I bisexual? gay? a lesbian? a dyke? queer? She had tried to walk out of my room multiple times, but I pulled her back each time before she asked if I had something I needed to tell her. While my head was nestled safely in her neck where I couldn’t look into her eyes, she took all the weight off of me by being the first one to say it…
Are you a lesbian?
Tears instantly fell. I nodded and she proceeded to tell me that she would always love me no matter what. Her best friend in high school was a lesbian so I didn’t have a ton of fear that she wouldn’t accept me, but at that point, I was having a hard time accepting myself.
She told me that I needed to tell my Dad (this was the scarier one) but 5mins later I found myself taking the longest walk through our hallway that I’d ever experienced. I sat on the ottoman and asked my Dad to turn off the TV and the words fell out alongside my tears:
He cried right there with me, he hugged me, and then he echoed the same message my mom had. They were going to love me no matter what.
I’m so very grateful that my parents created a safe space for me to explore my understanding of myself. I asked if I could go talk to a therapist about my feelings. My mom even signed me out of school and took me to the one and only appointment I needed in order to know that this was exactly who I was. They never forced me to go back, I told them I felt good about it, but I didn’t need to talk to a therapist again.
I knew at the young age of 15 that I didn’t need to be bullied any more than I had been in middle school. So I made the decision with the support of my parents to keep my sexuality between me and my family until high school was over.
Once high school was over I found myself working for a church doing work that I loved. I built an entire community inside the church, I was mentoring kids, leading volunteer activities, and assisting the youth pastor. After I graduated nothing was stopping me from coming out except for my fear of the church. So when I told the pastor I was working alongside (though he said he didn’t have an issue with it) the church was going to “lose support”, so if I needed to come out I also had to get out.
In a very short period of time, that whole community disappeared. That was a hard blow and left spiritual scars that have taken yearsssss to look at again.
I never ever went back into the closet after that. In the 15 years since I came out here are my takeaways:
- You can absolutely hide your sexuality your whole life. But when you are constantly searching for more, wondering why you don’t feel happy, connected, or satisfied, you’ll know that there is only so much you can get out of an inauthentic life.
- It might suck to come out. It might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. You might lose people, be hated by strangers, and you FOR SURE will face more hardship that the cisgender heterosexuals out there…BUT…nothing worth having ever came easy. I promise that once you get through it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
- You are worthy of love (even from yourself) regardless of your sexual orientation.
- The closest is a lonely place.
- WE HAVE RAINBOWS OUT HERE AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL AND WE LOVE AND ACCEPT AND HONOR YOUR JOURNEY.