Closet.

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH PEEEEEEEEPS!

As some of you know, and maybe some of you don’t know, June is Pride month. What that means is it is a month for the GAYS. YASSSSSS KWEEEEEN 🙂 We finally get our own month to be gay as hell.

Most of my posts this month will be pride related, so if you aren’t a fan of the gays….BEAT IT. WE’RE HERE, WE’RE QUEER, GET USED TO IT!

Now that I’ve been out for a few years (3.5 years wowzaaaaa), I have moved past the baby gay phase (when you’re fresh out the closet and obsessed with all things gay and delving into the gay community), but I’ve realized there are still a lot of closeted people out there looking for advice. As someone who has gone through it, I feel like I can give advice and give some insight into what my experience was like coming out.

Of course not everyone’s experience is the same, and I am not by any means an expert. This is my experience, the good and the bad. Here we goooooooooo!

I wasn’t someone who felt like I knew I was gay my whole life. I think it was always there deep down inside of me, but when I was younger being gay wasn’t even on my radar. It wasn’t even something I felt I could be. I didn’t know anyone gay or even what gay was until I got to high school. I was very much a tomboy, but the stereotypes don’t always apply. They did for me though!

When I was in high school, I had crushes and dated boys. I kind of just did what my friends did because I didn’t know any different. I remember liking hanging out with girls and kind of idolizing them in a way. I didn’t want to be with them, I wanted to be them. Most of my role models and heroes were women.

When I was a junior in high school, I had a good friend who was an out lesbian. She got a lot of shit at school from our classmates and was really seen as an outcast. Her family was super religious and I could tell they had a hard time accepting her. But they did. Even then, me being gay didn’t really register with me. I just wanted to be a normal teenager and do normal teenager things. I am thankful that I didn’t figure out that I was gay until I was more mature. I don’t know that I could have handled it in high school.

In college, I continued to date guys and didn’t think much of it. My freshman year roommate was one of my childhood best friends. One of my day ones. Someone who had really been there for me when I needed her to be. We were thick as thieves for the first few months of school, until she got a boyfriend. I didn’t like him, but not because he wasn’t a nice guy or didn’t treat her right. I was jealous. Instead of the two of us cuddling in bed and watching a movie, she was at his apartment cuddling with him watching a movie. And I was alone. I felt it hard. Our friendship took a complete nosedive and she ended up moving in with her boyfriend at semester.

I remember venting to my friends about the situation and just crying. Wondering why it felt like a break up. Looking back I’m like damnnnn you were so in love with her, and you couldn’t even see it. It was right in front of your face. I still chose to ignore it. I continued to date men and finally had a serious, semi long term relationship with one. Once we broke up, I felt completely hopeless and empty. Why couldn’t I have an emotional, romantic connection with a man? Why couldn’t anyone seem to love me? Maybe I was unlovable.

After a long stint of being single and not dating, I was able to pick the pieces up from that relationship and get back in the dating game. I got on every dating app possible and started going on dates with lots of guys. Sometimes more than one per night. I was searching for that connection I couldn’t seem to find. And of course I didn’t find it.

All the while, I was starting to have feelings for one of my girl friends and it was concerning to me. I didn’t want to have feelings for her, but I couldn’t really stop it. We were best friends and our friendship was starting to border on something else. I felt like my world was being turned upside down. Was I gay? I couldn’t be gay, could I? What was happening?! What did all this mean?!

At the ripe age of 22, I realized I was gay. I was in denial for quite some time. Close to a years time. Coming out to myself was tough. I remember doing a google search for “how do I know I’m gay” like 50 billion times. And of course finding lots of information, but most of it was bogus. If I’d never kissed a girl or been intimate with a girl, how did I know that’s what I liked? I knew boys were mostly underwhelming to me and I didn’t ever really feel a strong intimate connection with them.

When I finally got over all of this, I came out to myself. I became okay with being gay. A little at a time. It did not happen overnight. It took a lot of introspection and understanding of how my life would be different, but also the same as a result of figuring this out.

Everything also started to click though. I started to realize this is who I’d been all along, but I wasn’t ready to know this part of myself until now. It made so much sense to me it was insane. I started to feel comfortable in who I was again. I felt like my life had started over. Like I was finally living.

All the while, I switched all of my dating app profiles to “interested in women” and started dating. The first girl that approached me, was my most recent ex. We were together for two years. We started talking right when I was coming out. When things started to get more serious between us, I felt the need and want to come out to friends and family.

The first two people I came out to were close friends. Friends I’d had since childhood and for years. Neither of them were in the same location as me, so I decided to just text them about it. I know, lame! But I was also really nervous and I’m so much better with expressing things through writing. Even though I was nervous, they both received the information extremely well and were happy for me.

The next person I came out to was my older sister. She was the only person in my family who had been supportive of my mental health issues, so I figured she would be cool with it. And she was. She was like, “Well you played softball for 13 years, this isn’t really a surprise!”

Then slowly I came out to all of my close friends. Some in person and some over text. They all received it well and were happy for me. I really didn’t doubt that because I surround myself with people who are accepting. But the nerves were still there because you never really know how people will react.

Riding high on all of this acceptance and I was in love with my girlfriend, I decided to come out to my mom. I knew this would be a tough one because my mom and I were close, but my family never really talked about serious stuff or relationships. I figured she would say, “I always knew!” and “As long as you’re happy, I’m happy!” I was studying abroad in Costa Rica so I wrote her letter and sent it to her through email. I didn’t hear back from her for a few days, which of course had me on edge. And she did not respond with “I always knew!” and “As long as you’re happy, I’m happy!” She told me she was mourning the loss of the person she thought I was and that my life was going to be incredibly difficult. That she didn’t want to talk about any of this.

It was crushing. I felt like she didn’t accept me or understand me. Like she thought it was a choice I was making. And honestly, we still don’t talk about it. It has been a few years and it is still a point of conflict. But it has gotten better, bit by bit. She doesn’t talk about it, but she does make little comments about gay stuff that let me knows she cares and she accepts me. And I’m okay with that.

It took me quite a bit longer to come out to the rest of my family. There was a two year gap between coming out to my mom and coming out to my younger sister and my dad. My younger sister is 8 years younger than me, so I wanted to make sure she was old enough to understand. I didn’t want her to be disappointed or worried or upset. I didn’t want her to stop looking up to me. She’s like my child at times, so I really wanted to make sure she was in a place in her life where it wouldn’t drive us apart. I took her to coffee when I was home one weekend and we talked about it. I let her know that if she ever had questions she could ask me. She was super supportive and told me that if I was happy, she was happy.

My dad was difficult because him and I aren’t close. We barely talk. We have a bit of sordid past and so I never really planned on coming out to him. For me, it seemed like it would be even more awkward to tell him in the first place. But last summer, I spent two weeks with him and the rest of my family in Europe. We bonded a bit in those two weeks. I felt closer to him than I had in a long time. I was really unsure how he’d react because I don’t really know him that well, but I thought I’d take a shot in the dark. So at the end of the summer, I sent him a letter through email coming out to him. The next morning, he sent me back a very sweet email. Saying that he loves and accepts me no matter what and that my happiness is most important. My respect grew for him ten fold after that.

Steadily as time has gone on, I have come out to everyone I care to come out to. There are some people in my life who can never know and that hurts me. It hurts me to know that they aren’t getting the real me. That they will never get to see me so in love. That they would discard me as part of their family if they knew. But that is our reality. That is the reality of nearly every gay person. Another reality for every gay person is the fact that we never stop coming out. Anytime we meet someone new, we have to come out all over again. It sucks. I hate it. But it is my reality.

Some of your experiences might be good and some might be bad. Understand that the bad experiences are because ignorance is alive and thriving. But realize that these experiences don’t define you. They make you stronger. They make you tougher. They make you wiser. They make the good experiences that much better. Also realize that people can change. Change is our only constant. Don’t let people break you. Let them see you. The real YOU.

Happy Pride month guys 🙂 Shoot rainbows and rainbow flags out of your eyeballs this month. Hold each other close. If you have friends on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, tell them how much you love them and how glad you are that they are here. It would be easy for them to be invisible.

 

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