*Photo by Ten Thousand Hours Photo
October 11th was National Coming Out Day. I’ve never really shared “my story” publicly, and seeing all the honest and vulnerable posts of others inspired me to write my own. It may be several days late, and an extremely simplified summary of a very complex experience, but here it is.
We live in a world that values heteronormative relationships above all others. This is true. It is especially true, or obvious, if you do not identify as heterosexual, cisgender, or anything else that blurs the lines of the gender/sex/attraction binaries our society so desperately clings to. In the same vein, many people who deviate from the “norm” feel trapped, in what they may not realize is compulsory heterosexuality.
That’s all the jargon I’m going to include in this – it is only a blog post! I want to reflect on these ideas and how I’ve experienced them and subsequently dealt with them in my life, as I can’t speak for others, but I am sure some can relate. So get ready for a personal post.
It’s funny what you realize when you look back on your life.
I don’t know if this is going to be a coming out story, but maybe a coming to the realization, that I am in fact, not straight, and then, the process of sorting out my identity and labels from there. It is not easy. The default expected is heterosexual, so I found myself trying to justify how I felt about girls, to negate it, and to convince myself that a future in a relationship with a man was possible. I did this in several ways – firstly, by excusing my lack of interest in guys, think along the lines of “I’ll meet someone in college”, “I just have really high standards”, “I’m too busy for a relationship” etc etc… the crushes that I did have were more platonic than anything, I’ve since realized. I even went as far to research as many LGBTQ+ identities that explained a lack of attraction to men, and labelled myself as asexual briefly. But it didn’t sit right with me.
I played around with creating complicated labels to fit this “I’m definitely not gay but maybe not straight” box I was drawing for myself. I knew I wasn’t bisexual, or pansexual, or anything along those lines and I couldn’t picture myself in a relationship with a guy, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I was a lesbian. The word felt wrong, it felt like it carried weighty, negative connotations. Which, in some cases, it does, for some people. I still have trouble with it some days. I became obsessed with finding a label for myself that felt right, felt comfortable, and had no luck, really. Eventually I just accepted that I was gay – in the umbrella term sort of way, and left it at that.
I feel like this sounds cliche, but I feel leaving my tiny hometown and going to university on a huge campus was part of what led me to accept myself as I was. Or to even have the space to figure it out, instead of suppressing any less than heteronormative inclinations. I felt a freedom and a sense of anonymity, a sense of having no one to be accountable for except myself. I was surrounded by diverse, inspiring people, often being unapologetically themselves, and this atmosphere, combined with a very positive community of LGBTQ people in my life led me to let go a little, and just be me. To stop over-analyzing myself. To let life happen as it was meant to. And thank god I did.
Fast forward another two years -I’m engaged to a beautiful woman who I love more than anything in the world – and my life is completely different than how I would have ever imagined it, but also, completely better than I’d ever imagined it.
It takes time. It’s confusing, it’s frustrating, it’s scary, but coming out, or even coming to accept any part of yourself that you’d rather have hidden away, is an extremely liberating process. Through this experience, I have empowered myself to live how I want to, to escape my constant worries about what others may think of me (at least, to some extent), to live honestly, and to live, most of all, happily.
Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. It takes time – no matter whether you are coming out to yourself, to others, or are trying to accept some other aspect of your life that challenges societal standards. Give yourself space, time, and love, and you will be grateful you did.