Community Rainbow Waves

Out Is The New In​

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Lesbian

i realized that i was gay when i first watched pitch perfect. brittany snow and anna kendrick just hit different. only when i found wayhaught though was i able to gain the courage to come out to my parents. i only came out to them this year, but i’ve known i was gay for about 6 years now; since i was 12. i’m forever grateful to dom and kat for portraying these roles and for coming out themselves. they have given me the greatest gift; they gave me courage and they gave me hope, and those two things inspire me to keep pushing forward and to keep fighting for what i love.

Young, Southern, and Queer

Realizing you’re queer in the southern United States isn’t as hard as it used to be, but it isn’t a walk in the park. The first time I knew what a queer relationship was was about 2016. My oddball science teacher had gone on another tangent and she had ended up on the topic of LGBT people. In that moment, something in my brain clicked and I just immediately knew I was gay. Of course, I was only 12 at the time and didn’t know much about myself and it could be argued at that time that I was just trying to go along with whatever came my way. But I know now that it wasn’t as such. It was true. I was queer; I liked women. My parents found out I was questioning homosexuality not long after, and they instilled a fear in me. They made it quite clear that homosexuality was not going to be allowed in their house. So I hid. I denied myself of being gay. I refused to acknowledge it. About 2 years later, I kissed a boy for the first time and it just made me gag more than anything else. And a few weeks later, I had discovered some gay content and finally came to terms with accepting that part of myself. Since then, I’ve questioned my gender as well. Where I’m at right now, I say I am genderqueer, but I know that is subject to change as I age and grow. And I’m okay with that. My parents haven’t taken too well to all of this. It took them a while to finally accept me liking women, but they refuse to accept that I may be genderqueer or nonbinary. So I keep that to myself for now. I know who I am, and that’s what matters. Most recently, I’ve begun working to fight for LGBT rights in the south. For my college classes, I’ve written quite a few essays depicting specific LGBT issues and now am taking this summer to start working for change. I plan on lobbying in government and starting a movement. I have been inspired by Start The Wave in order to begin this chapter. I’ve always wanted to advocate, but with an organization like this showing the possibilities, I feel supported and empowered. Change is on the horizon.

Happiness

I started to realise I liked girls when I was around 11 years old. Before that age, I’d had crushes on girls but not really known they were crushes. I thought I just wanted to look like those girls or be best friends with them. But that wasn’t the case. My mother would often call me a “dyke” if I wore certain clothes that she thought to be too masculine etc. I was very much a tomboy. She’d tell me “people will think you’re gay” and that scared me a little bit. Where I lived, a lot of people were assaulted because they were gay. I even had people would call me gay like it was a bad thing, like it was a hateful word and so I accepted it as that. That was until I told my friend that I believed I liked girls and she told me she also felt that way. My whole life I’d only ever heard bad things said about the community. But with this friend, I finally didn’t feel alone. Before telling my friend, I’d fallen into some very dark places. It was a scary time that I’d never want to relive. I came out to my mother as bisexual when I was 17. I remember the moment incredibly vividly. We were sat on the couch, my laptop open with the wallpaper as Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, and my mother looks at my laptop, laughs, and calls me a “dyke” yet again. It bothered me. So I finally just said “you know what, yeah, I like girls”. We had a lengthy talk and she told me it didn’t bother her. It was nice to hear because, even though I did not need her acceptance, I still wanted it in a way. I came out as bisexual to her, and my closest friends, because I wanted to hold onto the idea of “maybe I’m still a bit normal if I say I still like boys”. I was confused and depressed for a very long time, even after coming out as bisexual because I still wasn’t being 100% honest with myself. I just wanted to be normal. But then I realised that everyone’s idea of “normal” is different. I thought that if I pretended to keep liking, and dating, boys that it would somehow make people view me as not so different. But, now at the age of 20, I have finally accepted myself for who I truly am and that is a lesbian. I know some people who don’t feel that they need to label themselves but I did. I needed a label and I’ve finally found the one that fits me best. I’m sexually and emotionally attracted to women and I simply don’t feel anything like that for men. It doesn’t make me weird or not normal; it simply makes me, me. I finally love myself and I’m finally confident. I can now openly talk to my mother about my sexuality and not feel terrified. I can watch shows like Wynonna Earp, Carmilla, Buffy etc with her and not feel like I have to hide the fact I watch them simply because they have queer relationships in them. She loves me for who I am and so do my friends. Others opinions of you aren’t vital, but it’s still comforting for me, personally, to know that they are happy for me. It took my a long time to finally accept who I am but noe that I have I’m happy and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Olga from Belarus, Minsk

I’m queer (bi). I madly love my girlfriend, with whom I live. We are raising her son. We love, we are happy. But, our parents (both her and mine) do not recognize our feelings and deny them. We want our parents to know that their children are happy.

Gay

I was never really attracted to anyone growing up, I never understood the whole thing. I just didn’t feel the ‘oh my God I like him so much’ thing that all my friends seemed to be experiencing. Until one day I saw a scene from the show ‘faking it’ where two girls kissed and I was immediately thinking, that looks right. I watched more episodes and I found myself drawn to the main couple and their trials and tribulations, I was never this invested in a relationship before. After I ran out of episodes I started looking online and turns out there was more than one show with a girl and girl relationship. I started to know the show by the scenes I saw on YouTube. I started realizing people in my life who I had always thought I just really wanted to be friends with them and realizing that that feeling was what a crush is. I had attractions to people for years I just never knew that those attractions being girls was an option so I suppressed those emotions and changed them subconsciously. My world changed around me. About a year later and I was up to date an all the wlw couples on TV and I decided to finally tell someone, my best friend. After school one day I sent her the link to a YouTube video of a coming out song. Her response ” hooray you’re gay!”. I was fully accepted by her and that was incredible. A feeling of freedom and openness. I started college and my new friends just kinda thought I wasn’t really into relationships and just let me off with that. Which would be great if that was the case. One day we all decided to make tinder accounts for each other for fun and when my flatmate gave me my phone back she had it set to see guys. She asked what I thought (meaning her choice of pictures) and I just said ‘ it’s great but I will change one thing’ and I switched it to see girls. None of them even reacted, my flatmate said okay fair enough and that was that. I still haven’t come out to any more friends from home, they seem like a bigger deal and it never seems to come up so it’s difficult. My parents are a different kettle of fish all together but we’ll get there soon enough.

It will be okay.

I guess if I really think about it, I always knew I was bisexual…. But growing up, it would be either “you’re straight or you’re gay”, there’s no in between…. And I liked both genders, so what did that make me? I was really scared and didn’t want to be different, so I focused on the “straight side”…
But it wasn’t until last April that I started to really find myself. I guess what I really needed was to have the right people by my side, and I can’t express in words how thankful I am for them. They made me question what I really want and who I really am. I guess I was always so scared to think about it, but when I talked about it out loud for the first time, I felt so relieved…. So free… So myself… And since then it has been a journey. It still is. When I told my high school friends I didn’t know what they would think. They had questions (what I was expecting) but they took it really well.
I still haven’t told my family. I guess I’m still to afraid to do so. I know my mother would be really cool about it, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to my sister (I think she already knows..?), but I don’t know what my father would say… And my grandparents don’t really like queer people… And my family means the world to me.
So I guess I’m still finding my way, but at least I feel so much more confident in my own skin. I think coming out is a journey, one I’m taking at my own pace, but I know I’m gonna be okay in the end. And in the end, it doesn’t matter if I make it with a man or a woman, as long as I’m happy it shouldn’t matter what the otheres think.

I am Elisa

I found out in 7th grade when I had a boyfriend but I wasn’t attracted to him the way I had thought I was, I actually found myself drawn to this feisty, short girl. I didn’t think anything of it until she revealed she was bisexual and it was then I started to question myself. Did I truly know who I was? I dismissed it with the thought that I was just young, but age isn’t a factor in knowing who you truly are. I started to pay close attention to how she made me feel and how my boyfriend made me feel. She made everything so clear and even know I was scared I couldn’t ignore the butterflies in my stomach she gave me and how I wanted to be WITH her, I told her how I truly felt and it was like a breath of relief. She helped me understand my feelings and when I broke up with my supportive and understanding boyfriend and dated her I knew my feelings were true. She and I didn’t date for very long but it was enough time for me to know I was bisexual. I am bisexual. I wouldn’t change who I am ever, and I AM attracted to both genders and I love who I am. I came out to my friends in 7th grade and they were just waiting for me to realize who I truly am, I came out to half of my family in 2019, the start of 8th grade. I’m in 8th grade now and my family and friends have been nothing less than supportive, I have yet to come out to my dad and step-mom and they are the parents I live with. In a perfect world my dad would accept me but the world is far from perfect and I know exactly how much he disapproves of the LGBTQ+ community. My step-mom already has a lesbian daughter but I don’t know how she would feel about an non-biological daughter coming out as bisexual. My mind tells me she woulds love and accept me but I am only 14, and I plan on being 15 or 16 when I come out so that they don’t question my age. I am Elisa and this was my story. I love who I am.

A 30-something year old whose journey took her from bisexual to lesbian to queer to not needing a label at all.

This story starts from the very beginning, so prepare yourself for a roller coaster.

Growing Up

Growing up as an only child, I was pretty dependent on my friends to get me through the day. If there was ever a rift in my group, it left me with a horrible feeling inside, as if I could show up the next day and be shunned from our usual bench at lunch. (My fear of abandonment is still real today, but in grade school, you were a loser if you didn’t bring the type of Lunchables that people wanted to trade you for or share with you. Social suicide at such a tender age. Kids are cruel.) So to keep my “social status”, I practically begged my parents to get me the lunches that the cool 10-year-olds ate, with fruit-by-the-foot and Mondo. After surviving the playground, my afternoons consisted of playing sports. Once I could start trying out for the teams in 5th grade, that’s all I wanted to do. I’d save the candies from my Lunchables and bring them to practice to share…with the popular (attractive – because society shamefully says that attractive=popular) girls. I’d pay attention whether they took the chocolate or the candy, which flavor Warhead was their favorite, etc. all in an attempt to talk to them as much as I could. Back then, I saw this as me just wanting them to like me because they were popular and everyone wanted to hang out with them. I knew nothing at this point other than I got severely jealous of their close friends, boyfriends, etc. Again, an awful feeling. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I started to put the pieces together.

High School

In high school, I continued to devote most of my time to schoolwork and basketball, and my teammates were again my best friends – one of them becoming my first girlfriend my sophomore year. Trust me, the irony is not beyond me. This relationship was my first real relationship, so many “firsts” came along with it: first physical/emotional/sexual experiences with a girl, first love, first breakup-and-makeup, first long-term relationship. We were together for roughly 4 ½ years, on and off, and it was such a whirlwind of a relationship. I was 15 years old, completely immersed, everything heightened and everything intense. The feelings, the arguments, the learning, the growing. It truly was a relationship fueled by the unknown mixed with teenage angst, which needless to say caused tension between me and my family because we were both “in the closet” at the time and I couldn’t tell them all the things I was going through. We went through several breaks and rekindlings, that when we approached the end of the relationship within the first maybe 1 ½ years of college, it grew to be unhealthy for the both of us. This is not to say that the good times we had weren’t really good, because they were, but all-in-all, I had outgrown it and was turning into someone I wasn’t quite fond of.

College

I met my second girlfriend in my second year of college, during my “divorce” period with my first girlfriend. I call this a “divorce” because I feel like it took a few months to “finalize” the breakup and detach myself completely. This proved more difficult than I anticipated because potential-Girlfriend-#2 was a roommate of one of Girlfriend #1’s friends, so we were still running in the same circles. Once I was officially out of relationship #1 and in relationship #2, we moved in together and this took my experiences to a whole new level – cohabitation can either make you or break you and it definitely made us. We didn’t have too many hiccups, until I hit a huge speedbump: my dad confronted me about my sexuality. I was 19 years old. Again, we were both still “in the closet” and it was terrifying.

Coming Out – Part 1

My dad asked me to go to the grocery store with him one Saturday afternoon. This would have been a normal occurrence IF 1) he didn’t tell me to get in the car the moment my mom started running her shower, AND 2) if he didn’t take the absolute longest, roundabout way to get to the grocery store. Once he parked the car, he jumped right into it. He asked who insert screenname here was (he already knew), how long we’ve been together, and if my mom knew. His spitfire questions got my spitfire answers: “Girlfriend #2”, 1 ½ years at this point, no she doesn’t know.” My face never seemed to get the memo from my brain to remain calm, so my panic shined right through. My dad’s response: he immediately put his hand on my knee, told me to look at him, and said “Hey, it’s okay. There’s no need to panic. I just suggest you don’t tell your mom yet because we both know that she won’t be as cool about this as I am. Now let’s get some shopping done.”

With my hands still shaking, we went into the store and went on business as usual. My dad, being the extremely blunt unfiltered person he is, proceeded to randomly ask me inappropriate questions about my relationship, drill in the point of me needing to delete my profile from the home computer so all evidence was gone, and said that if I didn’t do it the moment we got home, he would ask me more inappropriate questions and force me to answer them. “Blackmailed” by my own father.

I didn’t think it would ever go this way. I didn’t have a plan, I hadn’t thought about coming out yet, I was just being the kid-away-at-college and figuring things out as they came along. I mean, to me, this relationship with Girlfriend #2 was kind of still “new” compared to my first relationship. I have to admit though, even without having a formal sit-down with him, a coming out announcement, or anything out of my own choice really, the weight that lifted off my chest was so much greater than I anticipated it to ever be. I finally had a parent I didn’t feel I had to hide all my gritty life details from.

“Adulthood”

Girlfriend #2 and I moved back to our respective homes after being away at college, and things started going awry less than a year later. No longer being able to rely on “cohabitation making us”, we started growing apart. The want to visit each other, Skype, and even text throughout the day like we used to dwindled. We were together for roughly 4 ½ years (similar to my first relationship), but the relationship was becoming one-sided and it wasn’t fair anymore. I hate to say that fighting for it wasn’t worth it anymore, but it’s the truth. We were at different points in our lives, wanting different things for our future, but although I won’t go into the details (because that’s not the point here), all-in-all, it ended amicably.

I took a break from all the seriousness for a few months, focused on my hometown friendships, went on a few (failed) dates, but really just honed in on regaining my individuality. I was 24 years old, juggling my first job as an undergraduate and being a new furmom. Things were really coming back together, in their devil-may-care fashion, and I managed.

And then there was Shedonism – Las Vegas Pride, where I first met Girlfriend #3, my current and god willing my last. Long story kind-of-short, we met through mutual friends from LA and Sacramento, we said maybe a handful of words to each other in Vegas, went home after the event, I texted her 2 weeks later on her birthday, and it was all downhill from there. We talked daily at all hours, officially got together 6 months later, and have been together ever since. We did the long-distance thing for about 1 ½ years and here we are now, living together in LA with 2 dogs, just 4 months shy of our 5 year anniversary celebration, and I’ve never been happier. I could gush about this girl, but I’ll save you guys from that, but I just want to say that it works. It all just works. The present, the future, everything. But no matter how great and grown and comfortable I’ve been in the relationship, I still had a huge chip on my shoulder: I still had to come out to my mom. I am 29 years old, and disappointing my parents is still (and will always be) such a huge deal. But I did it, and I wasn’t alone, and it changed my life.

Coming Out – Part 2

Friday, October 28, 2016 – The day I took the most nerve-wracking risk of my life (and the longest and most crucial).
So this plan had been brewing for almost a year. I originally wanted to come out to my mom around last New Year’s, but it just wasn’t the right time. I thought so long and hard about the various ways to do it because this was probably the most important thing I was ever going to do. I was finally going to be able to plan for this and do this after so many years. I could tell her in one of our daily phone calls or texts, pony up and tell her in person in a very public place to avoid the meltdown, have my dad tell her since he’s known for 9 years, or write her a letter. I opted for the letter. I felt that if I wrote it all down in a letter, no matter how long it was, it would result in some of the weight lifting off of me AND allow me to lay absolutely everything on the table for my mom to absorb. My dad, naturally, wasn’t a fan of the idea, saying “that’s like breaking up with someone via text. I think you should do it in person,” even though I explained to him that I really didn’t think I had it in me to have an impromptu sit-down. I wrote the letter anyway and left it for her to see the next morning at my grandma’s gravesite (for other personal reasons).
Anyway, I was due to visit my parents, and since they get home around the same time, you can imagine how my plan quickly devolved into not my plan at all.
My mom and I moved about the house, my dad comes in, and says “Mom, sit down, your daughter wants to talk to you.” Cue heart attack. I’ve never glared so hard at someone EVER while I said “No dad, I don’t. I REALLY don’t.” At this point, my mom is now starting to panic. My dad then looks at me, says “You’re going to hate me for this, but…”, turns to my mom and says “Your daughter’s ‘roommate’ dates women, and so does she.” Cue heart attack #2 and blackout. What’s a girl to do now that her plan had been hijacked a day earlier than expected? I held onto my consciousness as best as I could and went to sit opposite my mother. Yikes.

The first words out of her mouth were the most heart-wrenching. A phrase a child never wants to hear out of a parent’s mouth:

“I’m disappointed in you.”

I nodded my head and gave her the floor. The next phrases played like a broken record before I’d even said a word.

“Never in a million years did I think my own daughter was going to tell me this.”

And then the parental denial:

“I prayed every night that this day would never come.”

(I complimented her motherly instinct in the letter – I knew she had it in her.)

By this time, my dad is unexpectedly sitting next to me, and as much as I hated him for blowing up my plan, I am so grateful for him right now. I began by telling my mom “I’d been in 3 long-term relationships in the last 14 years, my current relationship consisting of the last 4 ½ years (funny how this number keeps coming up). I’m so tired of hiding myself and my relationships from you and this family. I’m exhausted. My dreams for my future haven’t changed: I still want that house with a white picket fence, be pregnant, have kids, and get married, which now I can, it just won’t be to a man. I’m so happy with how my life turned out, and I’m so lucky because I’ve never been bullied or put down and my friendships are so much stronger now. I’m one of the lucky ones! But it sucked having to go through every relationship and breakup I’ve had and been too scared to tell my own mother about them so that she could help me through everything.”

“The future I wanted for you was for you to find a man who would treat you as the great girl you are, get married, and have a family together. That’s what a family is.”

My dad chimes in immediately, saying “She has found someone who treats her well and makes her happy. I’ve known for several years now, and in the grand scheme of things, this is no big deal. She’s still going to get married and have kids. Your job now as her mother is to love her, not judge her, accept it and move on. She is the same loving daughter you’ve always had. Nothing has changed that.”

Now I’m crying, and I’m not sure if it’s from my mom’s comments or from the shock of witnessing for the first time my dad’s verbal unwavering support. Fast-forward through the next 20 minutes of repeated comments, my mom then has to leave to pick up a family member from work. I turned to my dad after she’s left, and said “Well, I suppose that went as expected…when I get married some time down the road, I’d appreciate it if both of you would walk me down the aisle. I’ll take one, but both would be preferable.” He grabbed my shoulders and looked me dead in the eye, “Look, I’d prefer you to date men, but I know that’s not going to happen. You are the way you are, and if you’re happy, then I’m happy. That’s all there is to it. If your mom is going to be upset at you or your girlfriend or anyone for that matter, that’s her problem. I don’t give a shit about anything else. We’re all just people.”

My hero.

Coming to the end of this story now, my mom and I went through 4 days of radio silence, which equaled an eternity since she has text me or called me several times a day since I went away to college. Per my request, she did still read the letter I wrote for her, and we spoke about it while my dad was out of town. I took this chance to stand my ground more firmly, profess that I’m no longer a child, this is not a phase, and this is truly and fully who I am. It has been 3 weeks since “D-Day” and life is…well life I suppose. I’m still a little freaked out that we might just be on the brink of a mental breakdown, but I will take what I can get, and my mom still loves me and hugs me hello and goodbye whenever I see her.

The relief alone feels like nothing I’ve ever imagined. It could have gone a lot worse, and I’m slightly shocked that I am one of the lucky ones. It breaks my heart that so many people out there will not have their story play out as successfully as I did. No matter how old you are, no matter what path of life you are on, the most important things I can say to you are: Trust those close to your heart and embrace them and thank them always for being there for you. Trust yourself especially, because that is who you will always have. Be so unapologetically yourself, and demand respect in the purest way you know how. Please please please stay safe, stay mindful, and only do things you are comfortable doing. You know YOU best, so you’ll know when the time is right.

This is my story, and now I can honestly say it gets better.

Fast-forward 4 years: I am 33 years old, living in Sacramento with 2 furkids, and Girlfriend #3 became my fiancé! Even though we are in the middle of a godforsaken pandemic, I have to say my home life is pretty great and it still gets better and better.

Gay

I knew I was attracted to girls as soon as I knew what attraction felt like, but every time the thought presented itself I promptly decided that it was a problem for future me to deal with.
Initially this was because me as an 11 year old didn’t care too much about much to have a serious think about things, but as time progressed and I learnt words like ‘lesbian’, and ‘bisexual’ on the playground and (slowly) through media the more I realised that what I was feeling was associated with those words.
Once it had a name, it was a thing and it had to be dealt with.
However the name my feeling had was given to it by my peers, who in our first year of high school (middle school for Americans I guess) would still lace those words with mistrust and hate.
Over my dead body would I be associated with something like that when I was just leaving my 11 year old book-nerd-with-a bad-haircut-self behind. So, I shoved those feelings right down and hoped they’d go away, and honestly boys aren’t THAT bad maybe I can have a nice life with a man or maybe I’ll just get one of those jobs where you’re too busy to get married?
Like our beautiful founder I was hoping it would all go away. This remains my coping method in most things to this day.
Anyway then came the years where i talked to the boys my friends said I should on Snapchat and then avoided them at ALL COSTS in school, and I started to really admire women that I’d see on tv or even my friends…. completely obliviously.
I was on the field hockey team for Christ’s sake.
In high school I was quite popular, in that I hung out with the cool kids and people knew my name. I had friends in other high schools so I went to lots of parties and my big sister could buy me alcohol so I had street cred. The field hockey team was where all the cool girls gathered and we’d always joke about how none of us were lesbians despite the trope (lol).
This was a precarious situation. I was a people-pleaser and probably always will be. I would say anything to be liked and stay in a comfortable second row of that pyramid ( I was still living under the shadow of that haircut).
I told myself that I didn’t care anyway so it didn’t hurt to keep it secret.
I also had a best friend whom I was madly in love with. Standard.
When that friendship ended it was as a result of my feelings and my unfair expectations of her and it meant I had to confront them finally.
I was scared because the the people that I loved and counted on were casually homophobic about gay people that we knew. They would say it was their hair or humour they didn’t like but in reality it was that they were different. We were young and stupid and mean and I was terrified of being rejected by them. I was terrified of not being invited to sleepovers, or girls not changing next to me before PE.
All these years I’d been rejecting my own feeling I’d turned them into something ugly in my head. I like dressing in a typically ‘femme’ way. But like not all the time that’s so much effort??? But if I looked in the mirror and felt my hair wasn’t long enough or I didn’t have enough makeup on or felt like I’d gained weight, I thought everyone would know I was gay. As adolescents we’d moved on past ‘gay’ being an insult. Now you had to be afraid of ‘butch’ and ‘dyke’.
I decided that the only possible way to come out and not be rejected was to be as conventionally attractive as possible, died my hair blonde, wore more makeup, shorter dresses, higher heels. All of these were fun in moderation. I lost a lot of weight very quickly and not very safely.
I do whatever it took to fit in because I thought it would make people question me less if I came out. I started to drink a lot and one night in with my three closest friends, I got blackout drunk and when I woke up I’d come out to them.
One way to do it.
Anyway they were so brilliant and it turned out that I just needed to spit it out.
Not just that obviously, I needed to become comfortable with my own body, my sexuality, my emotions and bloody hell I needed some healthy coping mechanisms.
At the ripe old age of 18 I’m not as comfortable as I’d like to be but it’s a journey and I’m on my way.
I started looking for positive representation and that’s when I found Wynonna Earp and wayhaught and Dominique Provost Chalkley who is just too beautifully brave . I also found this beautiful community she created and within it I could not be prouder to be a lesbian woman who is beautiful however I dress, and who is always trying to be kinder and spread more love because of this amazing woman who was brave enough to share her story.
Tonight I’m coming out to my parents and I’m gonna tell them about this gorgeous girl I’ve been seeing, big hugs to everyone telling their stories xx

Gay

I guess I started questioning my sexuality when I was 10, I’d experimented with girls and was just very confused. I didn’t know what it meant to like girls, but some part of me, did. As I grew up, my friends would ask me if I was bi, because they’d noticed how I looked at our vice principal, who happened to be a woman. I denied it. I denied liking anyone, until I met my boyfriend. He was my safety net. No one really questioned me anymore, because I had a boyfriend, so pretty much everyone just assumed I was straight, except the few people who knew. *Coughs* The girls I’d been with behind closed doors, and my therapist. When I was 15, my therapist outed me as bisexual to my mother, I was terrified because I grew up in a very closed-minded, judgmental, “Christian” “family”. Being too scared to tell the truth, I chickened out and said I was bi. This came with more questions, mainly from my mother. “I thought you liked boys, you have a boyfriend”. Then came the shame. “It’s a sin, you’ll go to hell”. And at the time, I didn’t know better, and wasn’t taught better, so I believed it. I believed I was going to go to hell, if I was myself. If I liked anyone but boys. So I tried. I tried to like boys for as long as I could. I dated boys. In secret, I also dated girls. I didn’t know how to stop how I felt, I was so confused. I was too sheltered and didn’t have any guidance or anyone to talk to about these feelings, until I discovered the TV show South Of Nowhere, in 2005. I was still 15, and didn’t have much supervision at night when my mom was at work, so I could watch whatever I wanted on TV. South Of Nowhere is a show about a girl very much like me, came from a very closed-minded, “Christian” family. She met a girl and started questioning everything. Ironically, the same character that made her question everything, made my brain go crazy. I’d liked this character way more than what was considered “normal”. I started deep diving into my thoughts and feelings with every new episode, and slowly, eventually I started realizing who and what I was. The show had a bunch of different perspectives so it really helped guide me to figure out what MY beliefs and opinions were. By the end of the series, 5ish years later, I had finally admitted it to myself. I had to come out to myself first. I was gay. There was guilt, I was still ashamed of who I was. It took a few years for me to be okay with who and what I was, but eventually I was. When I was about 20 my mom and I were in a heated argument about gay and transgender people, and she made me pretty upset so I told her that she was hurting my feelings because I’m one of the people she was being so hateful towards, she didn’t really understand and sort of just blew it off, didn’t really say anything. About a year later, when I was 21, the same argument happened, again. (We’d had a lot of those arguments). And again, I told her she was hurting me because I was gay. This time, she heard me.

My name is Hope, and I’m an out and proud, gay woman.