Updated: Jan 31
National Coming Out Day was almost a month ago and today marks the start of Transgender Awareness Month.
The start of a new journey
I first came out in 2016 at the age of 17. When I came out of the closet I identified as gay. I knew for a while that I liked girls, but I never really felt comfortable with being labeled a lesbian (I'll find out why later). I went out several times over the course of about a year and a half, starting with my closest friends. First I told one of my best friends, one by one, just as she expected, she was totally cool and very happy for me. The next time I told someone was on a music department trip in high school. I was staying with a group of friends at a hotel and was having so much fun that week that I decided to go for it. We were in the room and we were joking when I told them that I had to tell them something. After I told them, they all cheered and made me feel so loved and seen. Some time later that year, at the end of 2016, I told my mom. I remember the elections That year's presidential elections made me very nervous, for very obvious reasons, and I knew I had to tell him because I couldn't keep up the "I'm an ally" ruse because things were going so badly. I remember she was so confused as to why I didn't think she would turn out well and all I could say was that she had it in my head that I wouldn't be loved anymore because of it. I never really had any reason to think this, but it's what I put into my head. By the time the election results were certified, I started dating my girlfriend, who happens to be my first and only girlfriend I'm still with.
Things didn't get any easier after the election, either. I was getting more and more nervous because I couldn't really tell how I felt with my dad around and I thought I was putting it off for a good reason. A year earlier, in 2015, Caitlyn Jenner publicly came out as transgender in a 20/20 interview. I remember watching that interview and seeing nasty stuff online about her. She wasn't any better at school either. What had made me not want to talk to my father was because of something he said about his leaving. It was a very formative comment that made me think I couldn't talk to him. Fast forward a year and a bit to when I came out of the closet with him. I had been talking to my mom about it and she told me over and over again that she would be fine with it, but I went into my memory and how I felt about it and why I didn't feel comfortable telling her. After weeks of back and forth, I told myself I'd be fine. I was so incredibly nervous and still very scared, but I sat down with him and told him. He smiled and opened his arms and then told me to give him a hug. As he hugged him, he told me that he loved me and that he knew it for a while. That ended up being what I heard from a lot of people when I told them.
I had no idea that the closest people in my life had known each other for a while. I don't know if I would have preferred someone in the Any way I suggested it or even dropped a hint that they thought I might have been gay, but I certainly didn't expect the reaction I got. has. I spent years and years in fear of the people in my life who loved me the most and when it came time to tell them they just went along with it, because they had known for years. No one tells you that you can feel guilty about how you came out or how accepting your family is of you, but it definitely can happen, especially if you get a response you didn't expect. I saw videos of people being disowned or kicked out of their homes at 13 and it made me think the worst of all, so of course I went in fully prepared for the same thing. I knew my parents loved me, but there was still a part of me preparing for the worst just in case, it was something I heard years before and it's something I still do to this day: prepare for the worst but hope for the best. No matter how well you know someone, you never really know how they might react to something you've never said before, even if it's the complete opposite of what you thought it might be. When my "new" identity was so easily accepted, I spent months wishing I had done it sooner, but along with that came the guilt that it turned out as well as it did. I felt pain for those who did not receive the loving reception that I did and for those who did not have the opportunity to do so themselves. No one prepares you for that feeling or how to empathize with people who didn't have the same experience. Nothing prepares you for the pent-up anxiety that took years to create to be demolished in an instant.
Coming out, once again
The next time I found myself wanting to share my identity with people was last year when I declared that I was non-binary. Like a lot of people, I spent quite a bit of time with myself last year during lockdown and he showed me a part of me that I never allowed myself to see until then. He'd seen sparkles over the years, but didn't know they were connected. Over the course of several months, I dropped not-so-subtle hints with my girlfriend and eventually asked her to use the them/them pronouns for me sometime in late spring 2020. It was a bit weird for a while, but I finally started the same process I had before. I told my best friends first and then my sisters, together this time. It was so relaxing and nice. They made me feel very good and asked me questions, it was really amazing. I was expecting confusion and a lot of silence, but in those minutes talking to my sisters I felt like a small child again approaching them in confidence and being received with unconditional love.
I had every intention of telling my parents in time when I felt ready. I found a post I liked that was worded the way I felt and had plans to revise it to include my information. After a very emotional night mixed with drinking, I texted my parents without checking and put my phone down for the night and didn't look at it again until the next morning. It was a shit show. It was totally unnecessary and I instantly regretted it in the morning when I realized what I did. Sending it when I did it and how I did it began a two-week period in which I actively avoided my parents' house. I didn't want them to see me and I definitely didn't want to talk about it, so I decided to avoid them altogether. I felt embarrassed and a little embarrassed by how I did it. Not only did I make it out of the blue, but I really confused them because the information in the text was not mine and it made things worse. I spent a lot of time wishing I had never done it and I think I will always wish I could change the way I did it.
No matter your identity or situation in life, everyone deserves the right to come out safely and in their own way on their own terms. Too often people have that taken away from them and it can be dangerous. Always remember not to tell anyone about someone's gender identity, sexuality, or pronouns without them knowing. It can cause issues and problems that can take years to fix and heal. Ask your friends if it's okay to talk to others about your pronouns, name, gender, or sexuality. Don't assume it will be okay.
Stay safe and stay you!