To be honest, I don’t remember the exact day, but I know it was the spring time, a bit before my 15th birthday. I’ve never really kept track, or celebrated it on an anniversary of sorts. It was 6 years ago now that fully came out as a gay woman. I don’t like to make any big show about being gay, because I think that makes it seem like I’m separate in some way, or attention seeking. However, it’s a part of me, and there’s no doubt that coming out is a process that a lot people don’t experience. It was a marker in my life that honestly seems so long ago now. It’s felt like a lifetime between then and now. But really, I am so young still. It was the beginning of a life, my life, living openly about who I was. And it’s very weird to think about it now.
I never really tried to hide it. Coming out to myself was not a humongous or painful struggle. That I am incredibly thankful for. The only struggle I had with it came after the fact, when I realized that there are people in this world who automatically hate me because of what I am. They don’t know me, most of them never will. But I am one of “the gays,” and they wish to disrespect me, target me, and dismantle a part of me which is so tiny. That doesn’t make me feel very nice. I like to think that I am a pleasant person. Respectful, fun, good stuff like that. I don’t like that I have to be judged by some based off of something like my sexuality, not by my character. They see something in me that I don’t see in myself, some type of corruption. Coming out meant that was on display. I was free & open for these people to target me. They did, and it sucked. But coming out was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Nothing has ever felt more right to me. I didn’t even realize I was uncomfortable, and suddenly I felt the most exhilarating sense of relief. I didn’t realize I had this weight on me until I let it go.
So now that my initial coming out is in the past, it’s a bit odd to think about now & then. Coming out was like opening a door to my own life. Within those few years after I first came out, there was so much to be learned. Mostly about myself, but I was also opened up to an entire counter culture, a community where I belonged. Gay people are just like everyone else, but there’s no denying that there is a culture all our own within the gay community. Being exposed to and involved in that taught me a lot about myself. It wasn’t that I latched on to the trends & things of “my people,” but things I wanted to do, things I was doing, were suddenly explained and embraced. I had never really seen women dressing in more androgynous styles, and it was impossible for me to think that was normal until I came out. Suddenly, I felt tremendously more comfortable looking the way I wanted to look. Everything just made so much more sense.
Thinking back to who I was 6 years ago, feels like a totally different person. Or like me, just wrapped tightly in blankets. So much was different, and it really wasn’t very long ago at all. When I came out, I would have never imagined that my country would have come so far with equality. Surely, there’s still work to do, but I’m damn proud of what’s been accomplished. When I came out, people who knew what LGBTQ meant were few & far between, DADT was still in action, and Ellen Page was in the closet. Now, look where we are. We’ve come so far. I’ve come so far. At the time of coming out, being gay felt like the biggest deal. Now, I feel like I hardly think about it. It’s just there, just as a nice little part of myself that I’m happy to have.
Though it’s a bit personal, reflecting on my coming out felt like an important thing to do. When it occurred to me that it had already been six years since I came out, I thought about all the people who are just starting on that journey. It’s really, really tough at first. I know everyone always says this “it gets better” stuff, but it really is the truth. It gets better than you ever thought it could be. It sounds so hokey but coming was really the best thing I’ve ever done. In the grand scheme of things, six years is not much time at all. And in that time, I was able to understand myself, my community, and start on my nice, happy life. So, if you’re struggling with coming out, wondering if you should or not. If you’ll be safe, absolutely do it. Then you can write to me in six years and you can fill me in on how awesome things are now.
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