It’s National Coming Out Day 20GayTeen, and I wanted to share something with you. 🙂
A few months ago, I had a written response assignment based on an article I read for school. It was meant to be a personal response, and I thought, “What would be more personal for me than to respond to an article about LGBTQ people?”…so I chose Domenick Scudera’s “My Gay Lifestyle”. It’s great; look it up if you’ve never heard of it. I had to dig deep for things that I’ve buried over the years, and it wasn’t an easy write. Surprisingly, I had a heartwarming response to this piece – by my instructor and by a few select people I sheepishly shared it with. I knew I wanted to open it up to others at some point, because I know I’m not the only one who has lived this experience, but I’m always afraid of criticism and failure and I never felt like the time was ‘right’.
As this is my 2nd year of being fully out to the world as a queer, genderfluid, bisexual being, it feels like a great day to celebrate this piece that I am so proud of.
Before I confuse you, I left my citations intact because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without them. lol.
(Apologies to anyone I wrote about here. If I included you, anonymously, you were a vital piece in my story so far – regardless of if that has been positive or negative. Either way, I am grateful because it has lead me to the person I am and that is someone I am grateful to know ❤ )
I knew I was in awe of women when, at 6 years old, I would look at my first-grade teacher and see sunbeams and rainbows radiate out of her face. When she spoke, it was as if a heavenly choir had suddenly filled the room. Everything she embodied caused my heart to flutter. I’m sure if you had listened closely, you would have heard the soft batting of butterfly wings throughout my abdomen. I had no idea that this feeling went beyond the notion of wanting to be like her when I grew up. I had no idea that this feeling went beyond anything normal at all.
I knew I was different when, at 10 years old, I began to recognize that tween heart throb crushes showed up differently for my friends when it came to our favourite celebrities. My girlfriends were all fawning over their imagined lives with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Justin Timberlake, and Josh Hartnett, while I was swooning over Goran Visnjic and simultaneously going back again and again to the local cinema to see Titanic – and it wasn’t for Leonardo DiCaprio. I was unknowingly “ruining the fabric of … society” (Scudera) as I tore at its seams with my unhindered thoughts, silently wishing for hand-in-hand sunset strolls along the beach with Geri Halliwell, Julianna Margulies, and Alex Kingston. As a girl on the cusp of her impending womanhood, I chalked these feelings up to the excitement of finally reaching my destiny as one of these beautifully charming and effervescent women that I so admired.
I knew I was different when, at 18 years old, I found myself falling in love with my female best friend. I was in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship at the time, and not having had much – if any – exposure to varying sexual identities, I also found myself very confused. In the world I knew, you were either gay or you were straight, so where in bloody hell had I landed myself that I’d been caught somewhere between the two?! The real world is black and white and very binary. A person can’t be attracted to both men and women…can they?
I knew I was different when, at 20 years old, I met a girl in a bar and felt my head begin to spin (no, it wasn’t from the alcohol). I was entranced and I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to be friends with her, while also wanting to be the object of her affection. A battle began to rage internally. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have sworn that on my right shoulder was a Catholic priest shrieking at me about my sin and the burning fires of hell, and on my left, the Devil incarnate himself, pulling me into this lifestyle by the skin of my teeth. I chose to leave what I knew behind, follow Lucifer, and pursue these feelings because I knew I wouldn’t find the answers by gawking from afar. Did this mean I was a * gasp * LESBIAN now?! Short-lived. I couldn’t seem to shake the cross of my Catholic upbringing or my internalized homophobia, and I allowed myself to be persuaded by a fabrication to leave her (and this lapse in judgement) behind. The harsh reality of it was that a woman I had considered a close friend had sabotaged my budding relationship. I was upset, and yet, relieved. I struggled so intensely with whether I was right or wrong for feeling the way I did. It became apparent to me just how wrong it must have been when others chose to resign their friendship cards because don’t people know that if a girl has feelings for another girl this means she likes EVERY. SINGLE. GIRL in the entire world?! Or that being friends with someone who is attracted to the same sex might facilitate “the transfer of [their] gayness” to others (Scudera)?! I marched myself back into the closet and shut the door behind me.
I knew I was cognizant when, at 26 years old, I was introduced to Callie Torres in Grey’s Anatomy and for the first time I saw myself in the image of another. It was the “A-HA!” moment I had been waiting for. Here was this strong, accomplished, soft yet bold character who had found herself and proudly professed her love for not just men, but also women. Sitting there, mouth agape and dumbfounded to have stumbled upon this openly bisexual character in the mainstream media, I thought back to all of the nights I’d spent screaming into the sky trying to rid myself of these feelings, and I found myself asking, “but why would you want to?” That familiar electrified galloping in my chest returned. No, you cannot “pray away the gay” (Grey’s Anatomy), no matter how hard you try – and believe me, I’ve tried.
I knew I was transforming when, at 28 years old, I’d wanted so badly to announce my solidified bisexuality to my very Conservative, very Catholic family as we watched Ireland legalize the abomination that is gay marriage. I wanted to turn their angry red faces into faces red with embarrassment as I shouted, “HELLO! AM I SUCH AN UNNATURAL ABOMINATION? I AM BISEXUAL YOU KNOW. I’VE KISSED GIRLS!!!”. Instead, I sat there mute with my own cheeks flushing from frustration. I began to plot all of the ways that I was going to support others like myself, and how I could use my voice to spread love and tolerance in the face of hatred and ignorance such as this. HA! THAT’LL SHOW ‘EM!
I knew I’d found peace when, at 29 years old, I opened the closet doors and stepped out into the world as my full, authentic self. I’d reconciled that this isn’t something I can change, nor would I wish to. I’ve been bullied. I’ve been made a mockery of. I’ve been invalidated. I’ve been excluded and judged and abandoned, solely based on who my heart has chosen to love in this life. I realized that the only permission and validation I’d needed all along was from myself. I forgave myself for carrying such hatred and disgust towards my heart, my mind, and my soul. No, my sexuality was never a conscious choice I made; it has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember. The only choice I’ve made has been allowing myself to be seen. In doing so, my thorns have softened and I have learned deeper compassion and understanding. I have been gifted with patience and empathy towards others and myself. I have increased the love I choose to put out into the Universe, and in turn, the love I receive. Because of this, I can confidently say that if I was ever given the choice to press rewind and start fresh – I would choose to live it all over again.