My coming out story starts in my sophomore year of high school, 2015, when one of my best friends came out as bisexual. I didn’t really know anything about the LGBTQ+ Community, as I grew up in a Catholic household with a Catholic school education for my whole life (up until college). Not to say that Catholicism and being queer can not coexist, Ari proves so eloquently and beautifully that they can.
Unfortunately that was not my experience with my faith and identity. I knew that when my friend came out that I was somewhere within that community. At this point, I knew internally that I was definitely a lesbian and came out to the friend that came out to me. She was very supportive and is still one of good friends today. However, I halted in coming out to everyone else because I was afraid that they would perceive me differently. Plus, going back to the Catholic aspect, my pastor at the time said at one of the masses that I was altar serving at and I quote, “There are pamphlets in the back of the church about how to fix your gay child”. This really tore me apart and honestly broke my heart, so I didn’t come out to everyone else until two years later.
I came out as gay to one of my best friends in a Starbucks that was within a Target in January of my senior year of high school (2018). I was really at a low point right before I came out to her and she could tell through my texts. So she said she was going to pick me up so we could talk about what was going on. We talked about so much that night and I grew to love her so much more. Finally at the end of the night, I came out to her. I was shaking and extremely nervous, but she assured me that this would not influence our friendship in the slightest. The next day, I came out to both of my parents, who were both very accepting.
There was one person that I still hadn’t worked the courage to come out as gay to yet, my Memaw. Memaw was by my side through so much and I wanted to tell her, I was just scared because she was very religious. In March, she started to get very sick and eventually ended up being transported to GW Hospital in early April 2018. Her condition was worsening and the doctors informed us that she was reaching the end. I was able to spend two hours alone with her while my aunts and uncles decided the best steps to take. I knew this was my chance to come out. After I told her, she started to cry (happy tears) and immediately squeezed my hand real tight. I knew this was her way showing her acceptance of me. Then a couple of moments later, a commercial for the Gay Men’s Choir of DC came on. This again reaffirmed my grandmother’s acceptance of my identity. Memaw passed away just two hours later on April 14, 2018. This was one of the most beautiful moments of my life that I will never forget.
Freshman year of college was really rough for me, as I was still trying to figure myself out and navigate through my first relationship. I was hired quickly for a job in the Rainbow Room in October 2018, which really kept me afloat and I worked at St. Mary’s. Although I am not still in that first relationship, I learned so much about myself, what I needed and most notably, my gender identity. I came out as a transgender man to my ex girlfriend in January 2019. She was really there for me at the time and gave me the support I needed. I then came out to my sister a little while later because I wanted to tell someone in my family, but I was still very hesitant. After I explained what a transgender man was she understood and was there for me. Next I came out to my parents in March, they were confused but have worked extremely hard to get my new name and pronouns down. I told them that I wanted to be called “Cal”, short for “Calvin”.
At the Pride Festival that June, I met the Administrator of Johns Hopkins Transgender Medical Services, because I was really looking to start Hormone Replacement Therapy. She told me the steps that I needed to take and the week after, my dad and I talked to the Social Worker and booked an appointment with Dr. Hedian. She was very nice and understanding and I talked about my feelings towards my gender identity. I told her that I felt different from “other girls” at a very young age, I just didn’t have the words to describe the feeling yet. I always preferred to wear “boys” clothes and have short hair and I was always very conscious of my body. I hated wearing dresses and even cut up one of my dad’s ties so that I could wear that during my First Communion instead of the dress. Dr. Hedian listened carefully to everything I said. At the end of our discussion I signed an agreement form and she prescribed me to testosterone. Words could not describe how much bliss I felt in that very moment. Then on July 24, 2019, I went back into the office to take my first shot of testosterone. Ever since that day, I have felt the love and confidence that I have for myself grow ten-fold. At that point in my journey, I identified as a straight man. This term, however, never sat right for me.
Shortly after I started testosterone I started to develop more feelings and attraction towards men. This was a slightly difficult realization for me because I had to balance societal pressures of being a trans man and being hyper masculine and solely into women. But the more I learned about myself, I knew that this wasn’t the case and that I don’t need to prove to anybody that I am a man. I define my own masculinity. I am an openly proud bisexual transgender man. It took me a while to get here, but I’m glad I did.
My story is very long, messy and spans over five years. But it is my unique path to self discovery, and for me that’s what makes it so beautiful. Identity is trial and error, it’s not easy but it’s so worth it. I could not be more proud and in love with my story.