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Out Is The New In​

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Sheelagh

I’m sorry my story is pretty long. Please feel free to edit as you will. I sent the wrong one yesterday. If you’re going to upload this please use this instead. Thanks!

Title: Yes I am, Undo Me and Ghost

My name is Sheelagh. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I grew up Christian with a mixture of Catholicism. My family is well-known in the Filipino-Chinese community. Both sides of the family are well-to-do. My grandparents built a Evangelical church next door because of his faith. Among my family’s businesses, we distributed Christian music in the Philippines. My Christian upbringing was certainly a very important part of my life.

My story begins in Kindergarten. This was the first time I felt the feeling of “being different.” I had a crush on my teacher. The older I got, I would always notice the girls in my class. However, I did not understand any of this. I didn’t know if there was a word to describe who or what I am.

When I was 5th grade, I remember being in a car with my entire family. My older sister asked my parents the pivotal question that kept me in the closet for the longest time. She asked: “What is something your children would do that you would not be able to forgive us for?” After a long pregnant pause, my mom replied, “If I found out one of my four children is gay/homosexual.” I went to the dictionary and found out what the word homosexual meant. Okay, now I had a word to describe who I and what I am. If I come out, my parents will never forgive me for it. I remember thinking to myself, “that’s great. I will just keep this information to myself.”

In 7th grade, I walked into a music store and asked the salesperson if she had any recommendations for me. I wanted something new, alternative and different. She introduced me to Melissa Etheridge. Something in the lyrics of her songs spoke to my soul. I was able to come out to myself and say “Yes, I am a lesbian. Yes, I am a homosexual. Yes, this is who I am.” For years, I went to sleep listening to all her albums at night.

When I was a Sophomore in high school, a friend came out to me. I stopped talking to her after that conversation. I stopped hanging out with her. She eventually left school and went to the US to finish high school. I still feel bad about this. I hurt her because I was not ready to face that part of myself.

My parents were very strict. We were not allowed sleep-overs. We were not allowed to go to parties until we were 18.

By college, I became active with Campus Crusade for Christ. I was at church almost every day of the week. I attended a prayer group on Tuesday. I joined a Bible study on Wednesday. I attended youth group on Friday and Saturday. And I was in church on Sunday.

In 2004, I watched the movie, “Saving Face” starring Joan Chen, Lynn Chen and Michelle Krusiec. For the first time, I saw myself on screen. It was my first exposure to positive lesbian representation on film. I wish I had the courage to say the words, “妈妈,我爱你. 我也是gay.” In English, mama, I love you. I am also gay.” But I didn’t. I was too scared to have that conversation with my family or with anybody. I came out by not coming home one night. I totally regret not having
that conversation but I just didn’t know what to say or where to begin.

Things began to not go well for me after what I did.

My family got me connected with an ex-gay ministry affiliated with Exodus International. I was not allowed to go anywhere by myself. I was driven to Bible study with this group every week. My family started a Bible study at my home. When my family realized that Bible study and family discussions were going nowhere, my mom gave me an ultimatum – change now or leave the house. I was also told that if I left, I would be cut off from the family and disowned.

I chose to leave with my girlfriend at the time. My family hired a private detective and tracked me down. My parents said they wanted to talk to me. When I came to see talk to them at a hotel room, I felt trapped. I felt I was being interrogated and coerced to go the US and think about my actions. This went on for hours until I broke down and said yes. Within less than a week, I was on a plane to Florida. My parents made arrangements that I was going to stay with family there.

After 6 months, my relatives realized that after numerous discussions, things were going nowhere. I was given another ultimatum – change now or go back home. In my mind, I pictured my family was either going to lock me up/throw away the key or I was going to be forced to marry a guy.

Neither scenario was acceptable to me. I thought about what I was going to do. I realized that for me to stay in the US, I needed to give my parents an acceptable proposition. I went online and found that Exodus International had a live-in ministry/program in Wichita, KS. I figured since they want me to consider changing who I am, I think they should pay for my expenses.

I found myself in Wichita. I got accepted into the ministry. I regret my participation (about 5 years) with this organization. The people running the ministry may have good intentions. Perhaps they were concerned about the well-being of my soul. However, there was no social worker on staff or anyone with religious training in their background. I was not allowed to interact with anyone outside the ministry and the church. I was not allowed to listen to music that was not pre-approved. I was not allowed to watch any television that was not pre-approved. For about half a decade, I was asked to not question their authority and just receive their message.

It totally went against everything that I believed in. I always questioned things. This really threw me off for a loop. I feel like I am still suffering from the mind games of being in this program. I went from being comfortable in my own skin to having a complex about who I am.

My only saving grace during this time was Jennifer Knapp’s music. I discovered her music while I was in the program. Her lyrics are so honest and moved me to remain open to God. The song “Undo Me” is my favorite from her album.

Undo Me became my prayer for many years. I went from being comfortable in own skin and not having any issues with my sexuality to praying that God take this away from me. I know the only way to please my family is for God to change me. There is no way I can do it on my own.

Luckily, because my family distributed Christian music in the Philippines, I was able to get all her albums sent to me. Her music gave me life while in that program. Without it, I do not know if I would have survived those years.

When I finally left the program, I was angry at God. I became promiscuous. I stopped caring about my faith. I went on downward spiral for a few years. I put myself in situations that were not healthy or positive. Fortunately, nothing bad happened to me.

Two years prior to meeting my wife, I realized this was not the life I wanted for myself. I stopped going to bars. I stopped having casual sex. I made a promise to myself. I will only consider sharing an intimate moment with somebody who I can see myself being in a serious relationship with.
Luckily, a wonderful and beautiful woman came into my life. She is now my wifey. We have two pugs, a son and a great life together. I have never been happier.

When Adaline decided to help others who have suffered religious trauma, I was excited. I am on this very journey. I need help in this area.

However, religious trauma is painful. I have not opened the Bible since leaving the ex-gay ministry. However, amazing human beings out there like Adaline and Jennifer Knapp are giving me hope. Who knew that Wynonna Earp and the community of Earpers will grow into something beyond the show and the fandom?

I am completely estranged from my family. They think the only way I can be acceptable and welcomed into the family is if I marry a guy or stay single/embrace celibacy for the rest of my life. It hurts when we talk because they always ask me how I am doing as if I am unmarried. When I share information about my life they act like I didn’t say anything.

Being part of this community has been a great source of hope and healing for me. I feel so blessed and honored to have read all your stories. Thank you for sharing because you make me feel like I am not alone.

Jess

Where do I start well I turn 18 in two weeks and have the overwhelming urge to finally come out as Queer to my extended family and friends but I know I can’t yet, where I currently live it is illegal to be apart of the community which is hard when you’re trying to navigate the waters and find where you fit in, I’ve known I was apart of the community since I was around the age of twelve, it’s kind of like when you meet your soulmate and people say when you know you know, it’s never a big revelation because deep down it’s a part of you that’s been there all along.

I came out to my parents last year, even though we’ve got an aunt who’s apart of the community it was the most nerve-wracking moment of my life so far, my dad immediately started changing the pronouns he used when talking about my future partners and marriage and all in all was as supportive as one could hope – I mean he didn’t jump over the chair and give me a hug but I could always feel his acceptance was there. My mum still talks about my future husband and how everything going to change and I’ll end up with the opposite life to what I’ve currently got my heart set on, she talks about my prince charming and honestly It does break my heart that I can’t give that to her but I can still have a great love story even if it isn’t how she’s always pictured it.

I live my true authentic self in secret online and for now, that’s more then I could ask for,
but one day, someday in the next three years I promise myself I will come out to everyone.
I’m more than ready.
I’ve been ready for a while now, it’s just about finding the safest time to share my
story with my family.

xoxo

My Journey 10 Years Later

I had a feeling I was different many years ago but I did not realize what was different or how I was different form the rest of the people in my class. In 2010, I started develop feelings for a girl and the whole thing made me confused, scared and I had no idea who to open up to about this. At the time I was living in a very conservative country and it was taboo to talk about anything related to the LGBTQ+ (times have changed and the country is a little more understanding now). Since I had no one, I tried opening up to someone I considered my best friend. However, nothing prepared me for happened on March 23rd 2010.

At the time I was still figuring out myself and trying to navigate the feelings I was having but on that day I was outed to my entire class. It was scary because I was not ready to admit to a group of people that I am gay, I was not yet ready to accept it myself. It was all new to me and possibly my biggest secret was out there in the open now. That day I locked away my emotions, built my walls up high and distanced myself from a lot of people. 5 years later I was joining university and leaving the bad memories of high school behind. I desperately needed it as I knew I needed to start fresh and discover myself in a different environment where I wasn’t going to be judged for who I am.

I made new friends but it took me nearly a year to open up to them and show them what kind of person I am. With their unconditional support and patience with me, I started breaking down my walls, showing my emotions, communicating more and most of all, accepting myself for who I am. When I first came out to one of my friends, I was beyond scared because I only had memories of March 23rd but her response was different and she valued my privacy knowing I was still building myself back up again.

10 years on, I have made peace with the events that happened that day but it will always stick with me. Reflecting back I know it made be become more confident in my own skin as well as overall. It made me learn to understand different people and how they cope with different things. It helped me help close friends who are questioning themselves and ask me what my story is.

No one should ever be outed or forced to out themselves when they aren’t ready. It is a journey of discovering yourself and I am still on that journey learning new things about myself. I am proud of where I have reached so far from 2010 and I am proud of who I am.

Just me

I always knew I was different from a young age but thought it was just retaliation to my upbringing. I never really addressed it and choose to just keep pushing it away until my early teens hit and I coped using alcohol as a defence, and continued to date boys/men (most of my partners were older than me).
When I was around in my early teens, I can’t quite remember the exact age, I told my mum at a party I was gay….the result was not great as now it was gossip and my father who I had just recently met came and told me I was not gay. For fear of acceptance, which is all I ever wanted, I recanted my declaration and continued to live my life as “normal”. Gossip was always abound and I wanted to protect my family from it.
Life went on with its usual trials and tribulations until I made the decision to move away, I was in my mid 30s. Being away from my small home town gave me a sense of freedom that I’d always wanted but I had suppressed so much of my life already that it was still difficult to admit my true feelings.
I am now a couple of months from turning 40 and in the last five years I have met so many people from all walks of life and I have realised that I can be who I want to be!
Even though the subject is still kind of brushed under the carpet back home I am proud to say that my family continue to be my rock and reason for doing all that I do now. I want to teach my nieces and nephew especially that you don’t have to fear anything in life no matter what it is, a fear of flying or whatever.
I have followed Dom for about a year now just purely because she is so pure and true and that really is an inspiration to know that everyone is different and can still conquer the world.
Thank you 😊
I would like to end by saying that I am far from perfect but I am me and that is that.
I love my and friends unconditionally,
This is the first time my story is going beyond them.
Peace out peeps ✌🏼

Artist Lesbian

I knew I was lesbian at a ripe age of 4.
But I was in a school full of homophobic kids so the only way to fit in was to “act straight”. Did that for eleven years but through those tough times, I got sexually abused by males my age (groped, used as a sex iconand even blackmailed). It has left me scarred – mentally, physically and socially.

I have always been an anxious person but I needed to break out of this shell.
Imagine I am a cattipillar (or however you spell it) stuck in a cocoon: it wants to open up and reveal its true beauty but it can’t because of the walls in its way.

I did identify as pansexual, but that was when I was in a relationship with a boy. I feared my parents would tell him that I was lesbian so I had to come up with something to hide away that thought.

It was until I went to Snowdonia, Wales (a VERY odd place to debate on your sexuality), I started having spontaneous crushes on women. I couldn’t help but think about them non-stop.
Even the word “women” made my heart flutter.

Edging to June 2019, I was slowly getting confident. My boyfriend split up with me as he thought I seemed “different”. But the thing was, he was right.
I was different.
How could a 16 year old autistic female fall in love with another women despite being in a relationship with a male?

It came to my last full day at my secondary school and I came out.
The cocoon disappeared.
My wings had grown.
I felt blissful. I felt complete.

It was my last words at that school too, and I always look back at that and think as to how far I have become.

Back to when I used to “act straight”, all fell for it.
Does that mean I deserve an Oscar? I betta.

These following people helped me come out with all my might:
Daisy Ridley
Kat Barrell
Dominique Provost-Chalkley
Cara Delevingne
Ruby Rose
My family
Some fictional characters like Nicole Haught, Waverly Earp, Rey, Viola Eade, Thirteenth Doctor, Jyn Erso
You

So when someone says: “how have you come so far?”
I will tell them this story.

Just you wait for me to appear on the big screen, portraying a character who has gone through the same things as me.
I will credit all of you when I walk on the red carpet.

There’s a million things I haven’t done.
But just you wait…

Just you wait.

– H.L Good, a proud lesbian 🏳️‍🌈

#OutIsTheNewIn

Ana

Hii, so, what a beautiful place to be in sharing just a little bit of my story. 🙂 I won’t take too long, I wanted this to be short but truthful. Just like Dom reiterated with her story. Well, yeah, I’m queer too I guess. I never knew this about me, and maybe when I was younger I did shove it in the little dark corners of my heart. But I won’t anymore. I started to question the heteronormative narrative about my sexuality when I started to think too much about a girl I met unpretentiously when I was 18 years old. What I keep asking myself is if I had felt this way before, but I just didn’t recognise this when I was younger, and only now I do. What helped me see this in a better light was a friend of mine (my best friend now) and she had already been dating a girl for 6 years, and they themselves overcame some pretty rough things. Still, till this day I can’t really help but feel disgusted by what they’ve gone through. But anyways, this ain’t about them. It’s about me. And when it comes to it, THIS is all that matters, guys. After starting to feel things for girls, crushing really really hard on them, I kept asking OTHER PEOPLE for their opinion. Well, now I know better. They did help me A LOT, but at the end of the day I think what matters is that yes I don’t like only boys, I like girls too.
I don’t really feel the need to come out in a huge fashion, I think people suspect this of me, and I have been bugging everyone about Kat and Dom, and Melissa, and Katie and Kristen Stewart, and Caity and Jess and a loot of actresses, so there’s that as well. But I hope people won’t give me too much of a hard time once I start dating, if it’s a girl and not a boy. I lke to think that they won’t. I will nevertheless still love them even if they don’t understand, I guess for some reason we should be understanding. Fight like hell to end LGBTQIA+fobia, but be understanding, as well.
Thanks for reading.

I’m an out and proud butch lesbian

I could, and regularly do, tell the story of coming out as a lesbian in the age of Section 28. I tell it because, mostly, it’s relatable, and it’s got some funny bits, and has very clearly defined parameters that say “This was the moment I was not out; this was the moment I was out.”

I’m not going to do that; instead, I want to tell you about what was, for me, a much tougher journey, one which took a lot longer and a lot more questioning, a journey which is no where close to being finished. I want to tell you about being butch.

It isn’t a popular word, nowadays, even in the LGBTQ+ community. But it’s an identity that helped me verbalise my own gender when I didn’t know how to, and gave me the comfort that I wasn’t the only woman trying to find her way through the world when the trappings of femininity felt increasingly like a cage.

I had always been a tomboy, more interested in climbing trees and getting muddy than in playing dress up and dolls (the barbie dolls my mum bought me spent more time rescuing each other from hideous fairytale monsters than they ever did swooning over Ken). Which is fine, when you’re young. It gets less fine as you get into adolescence, when the expectations of society become more restrictive, and the struggle to fit in, to be normal, comes to the forefront. I was a shy kid, bullied because my family were working class in a middle class neighbourhood, and my parents were catholic and somewhat strict; the thought of standing out any more than that made my stomach churn. So I wore the skirts, rolled shorter at the end of the road so our mothers wouldn’t see, and applied the colourful eye shadows which we’d be marched to wash off after first period, and I felt like I would never be happy again.

Skip forwards 8 years, and I was living away from home for the first time, in a foreign country, with no one to define me but myself. It was an opportunity, not just for learning, but for becoming. I found myself around people who wouldn’t bat an eyelid when I cut my hair short, or tentatively started adding “men’s” clothes to my wardrobe. It gave me freedom to experiment with my name and my pronouns, and start to uncover the layers of my attachment to womanhood that I had long since hidden in shame. I still felt anxious about it; there were still confusions and unkindnesses as a result of my outward appearance, but more clearly than any of those, I remember standing in front of the mirror with my waist length hair shorn for the first time, the strands lying around my feet, and crying because I finally felt like I was looking at myself.

It took another 5 years for me to exclusively start wearing “men’s” clothes, to stop disguising my mannerisms to appeal to the wider society who still demand performance of culturally mandated gender roles. It helped that I had found, online and offline, a community of women like me who enabled me to map out the words I needed to explain this huge part of my identity, and a woman who made me believe I was ‘handsome’ – not ‘pretty’ and certainly not ‘strange’. It took two thirds of my life and that unwavering support to fully accept myself as a woman, a lesbian, and a butch, and I’m still learning.

No, butch isn’t a popular word, nowadays. For the wider world it carries too many of the negative connotations attached to it by the narrow feminism of the 1970’s, but for me, it’s the key descriptor for who I am. I found an affinity with it, and it helped me – is helping me – on my journey as I dig deeper into what that means. It’s true that labels are just words. They’re just words we use to verbalise who we are, and our feelings towards them are based on our own personal experiences as we travel through life, constantly evolving or cementing as we ourselves grow. To the world at large, I’d ask you one thing: be gentle with other people’s labels, and the words they choose or do not choose to give their identity form. Invalidating them is a form of invalidation for the many roads they travelled to find them.

And to the masculine of centre women – the gender nonconforming women – the women getting called out in the ladies’ loos and receiving the side eyes as they pick up their groceries – stay strong. Stand tall. Keep on holding your own. And hold onto your swaggers – we’ve earned it.

Zo, Birmingham UK

Well I’m gay…

Hello first. I am an 18 year old girl who is gay. I come from a Jewish family from Berlin. My parents are Russians, so they’re not the most open people anyway. Actually, I knew pretty early that I wasn’t really into boys, but my whole environment was absolutely against lgbt +. In general, everything that was different. So I hid my feelings and was very unhappy. Until I started looking at wynonna Earp and saw how many people had feelings similar to mine. And then I finally came out. It was very liberating for me, but the reactions were really not great. I mean my parents yelled at me first and called me a disappointment. Some of my siblings had no problem with it, but some kept their distance from then on. When I told my best friend she didn’t really have a bad reaction (I thought). but suddenly she blocked me everywhere and never spoke to me again. But it was worth it. I found new friends who accept me for who I am and I never have to hide again. I thank you Dominique. I don’t think I would have had the courage to come out without you , the show and without this community.

Gay

The start of my journey was a girl. It’s stereotypical, but that’s how it happened. I was teenager, my parents were divorcing, I wasn’t even sure the true romantic love was real. Then we kissed for the first time. No longer could their be any denial of love or my sexuality, because in that moment I knew.

When I first came out, it was as bisexual. Maybe because I still had not fully accepted who I was… or maybe because the girl was bisexual. Coming out to my friends was blissfully easy. They’d suspected for years and had never had any problems with the idea. My dad, such an open minded man, again gave me no fear. My mum though. She was unpredictable. I was so scared, that I did it via text message while we were in the same house! BIG MISTAKE. I had to wait 40mins to hear back! But when she did she told me she still loved me. It somehow didn’t give me relief. As though, she was being okay with my sexuality because she felt she had to be. In this phase in my life the biggest difficult was school. I once had a group of 30 people chanting things like: “What would Jesus say” at me. Lucky for me, someone saw. The school asked me to talk to the group and asked my opinion for appropriate punishment. So they did an assembly on inclusion.

When I later came out as a lesbian, nobody was surprised. I’d dated guys, but it was clear nothing had particularly clicked. But finally I was out for me…. or so I thought.

5 years on I was 21. I was absorbing a lot of LGBT content and I remember thinking about this in the context of myself. My gender. I’d never been what you’d call ‘girly’. When I was younger I was called “a tomboy”, but when I was older, suddenly this label disappeared and I no longer had it as inclusive context. I was just different. When I was learning about other LGBT labels, one that came up was gender neutral. Because it is one I instantly identified with. I wasn’t female…I just wasn’t male either. Then I had to come out again. It took me several years to come out with one of my friends. We disagree on many things and the concept of genders beyond cis or transgender is definitely one of these. I’d tried so many times to calmly explain how it is possible for an infinite number of sexualities and genders could be, to no avail. When I told him, he was offensive – but in a way that showed his , acceptance. We constantly talk about our differing views on multiple topics. I certainly find it difficult, at times, to remember that just because he isn’t as open minded as I would like him to be he is not a bad person. He just has different views to mine.

With gender and sexuality being constantly changes, filled with multiple aspects I can not promise that these aspects of me won’t change. This is why I like to identify as ‘gay’. I feel that it is such a broad term, I can make it fit with who I am now and who I will be in future. The story above is all to brief. You come out thousands of times! It also doesn’t include some of my darkest moments, but the main point is that as dark as things have got I am me… I wouldn’t want to change that for a second. Neither should you. Be proud of who you are, regardless of what comes your way.

Lesbian

CONTENT WARNING: THIS COMING OUT STORY CONTAINS DESCRIPTION AND/OR DISCUSSION ABOUT SELF-HARMING BEHAVIOUR AND SUICIDE.

When I was 7 (1987) I had my 1st crush on my art teacher. She was absolutely gorgeous. The word gay or lesbian wasn’t even a thought because I didn’t have the resources like today. No internet, only a few tv channels, no magazines or books. I brushed it off like it was normal for me and never spoke a word about it. I had a rough childhood because in my head I knew I’d never be able to talk to someone about it. It wasn’t until 95′ that I heard my 1st melissa Etheridge song. It opened me up to at least explore what I was going through. Things got a lot more complicated though. I knew I likes women but never thought of myself being gay or a lesbian. Those words were rarely used in my day to day life. Depression started in 2nd grade and still continues to this day. My worst enemy will always be my mind.
I didn’t officially come out until around 2009. I wrote an email to my family which was extremely difficult. They all knew but were waiting for me to come out. I was bringing my girlfriend home with me to meet my family. They all excepted me for who I was and excepted her as well.
Definitely one of the hardest times of my life. I still keep my personal life to myself especially at work. As much as I say I don’t care what people think, I actually do. It’s been a hard road of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts and lots of crying. I feel like I’ll never find someone. No matter the age, its definitely a struggle.