Community Rainbow Waves

Out Is The New In​

TRIGGER WARNING: Some of the posts on this page may contain sensitive or potentially triggering content. Start the Wave has tried to identify these posts and place individual trigger warnings on them. 

 

Should you come across any content that needs further review, please contact us through the Contact Us page.

When a trauma becomes a blessing, the struggle of the invisibility of bi people.

CONTENT WARNING: THIS COMING OUT STORY CONTAINS DESCRIPTION AND/OR DISCUSSION ABOUT RAPE.

I realize when I was four that I liked boys and girls the same way, but when felt so confused when adults would call my boy crush my boyfriend and my girl crush my best friend. Then about 5 years later my sisters came out as gay and that’s when I realize that it was not the norm, she was met with so much hurt, mean comment, and hitting that it shut me up and all the shame arrive. But I didn’t feel like my sister, because I also loved boys and for so long I truly believed that everybody did also love everyone, but were too ashamed to admit it. And then started middle school. My younger self was thrown in a catholic school in the south of France and there I met this girl. Beautiful and funny soul and I fell in love with her, but I didn’t really understand it, dah just 12 years old, and apparently was quite obvious about it. And Gosh this is hard to write, but let me reassure you I’m all good now so no worries. After a few months of hanging out with that girl, I was one day attack in the school bathroom by two 14 years old boys, clearly, there were not weel and past their frustration on me, and they just raped me in the bathroom with the excuse that they were going to cure me, that I was not “straight enough” and their penis was the solution, which clearly it wasn’t. It took me 12 years to be able to overcome that event and openly talk about it. After suffering from PTSD, amnesia, had to re-learn how to read and write after I forgot it because of the trauma. After battling with internalize biphobia, self-harm, depression, and anxiety, Finally, it got better. I moved to Switzerland when I was 16 and was met with so much acceptance and love for the community swiss people and little by little started healing. And then in the summer of 2019 discovered the tv show Legends and Wynonna Earp and was so touched by how the actresses talk about there role and how Emily talked about the importance of positive representation and that were it all truly got better. It was the first time I heard the bisexual word use in a positive way and not as an insult or a sexual joke, which was such a revelation. To have that positive community of Earpers really helped. And I came out last November, at 24, to my family and they all really had progressed in there ideas and were all so supportive and then came out to everyone and being in Switzerland every one was so supportive, which was a really amazing feeling. I feel lucky now to be part of a support group of bi/pan people and participated in a lot of queer events organized in Switzerland. I’m sorry to anyone who felt triggered reading that but this story is actually a beautiful one, because I have now forgiven all of those people and hurt me out of ignorance and feel privilege now to be able to help educate and support the LGBT+ community here in Geneva, gay marriage here is still not allowed so still a lot of work to do. Anyway, all of those traumas were hard and at the same time a blessing in many ways. I am now a sweet vegan, queer, loving woman who does her best to make the world a better, more accepting place for everyone. So bless you all it can always get better and sorry for the writing, not my first language. love you all, melody.

A strong queer socially anxious chilean teenager who is awakening into a higher self

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

I turned 18 on January 17th, i guess you could say I have permission to do “grown people stuff” but reading this got me thinking.. why is it legal to have alcohol or whatever at 18 but love in any shape or gender it’s seen as something not normal in any age

I’ve known i was queer since i’ve been a child (10) and at first it seemed really normal to me, feeling butterflies when i hugged my best friend but as I started to grow older i noticed it wasn’t portrayed as something normal or it was portrayed but not the same way as heterosexual love, it was overly sexualised with wlw and i used to hear family member talking about people they knew that were gay, whispering about them like that wasn’t someway ok.
I started pushing away those feelings and i kinda pushed myself to feel something towards boys. Music and films have always been an escape for me but i couldn’t somehow the same representation in the tv on my country so i discovered more representation but in international tv, shows like glee haha and i was honestly in love with the character Santana Lopez because she was gay and also latina too, i felt for once seen.

I started looking up to “famous people” i remember my first celebrity crush was Miley Cyrus.. I was obsessed with her, then i started having butterflies over Justin Bieber so i was really confused because i’ve always heard bad things about bisexual/pansexual people like “they’re promiscous” or one family member that told me “they’d rather have a family member that’s gay instead of being bisexual” for the same reason. Then the crushes went on with different singers and actors and without even noticing i realized i begin to noticed that i could understand english because i’d would listen to music, watch tv, watch the premiere episodes (without subtitles because i didn’t want to stay behind). I fell in love at 15 with a girl from another country, it was beautiful honestly i felt really loved, i felt forced to come out to my mom/and friends because i didn’t want her to feel like i was hiding the relationship, my mom started crying horribly but supported me and she told my dad the same day without my knowledge. I told my dad a year later and he was supportive but he really didn’t think it would last “it was a phase” and “how i was able to know if i’ve never had sex with a boy or a girl” months later it all went wrong with my gf at the time and i got my heart broken.
Oh god that’s the worst feeling ever, my heart physically hurted but with love from my close friends, family, music i was able to be okay again, my dad over the years started noticing it wasn’t a phase, and started to not care too much about my sexuality. My sister is great because she always knew and was okay with it.

(((((((((((trigger warning ⚠ ))))))))
I’ve also struggled my whole and (short) life with depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies/thoughts. My parents divorced when i was 1 year old but they still lived together until i was like 7, my father was abusive with me, sometimes my sister but mostly my mom. When i was really young i saw all the violence, i hear all the insults and shouting, i saw how he grabbed my mom and punched her.

Obviously as i started to grow older i develop an aggressive personality too but because i was so angry at him. I used to hate him for a while and i didn’t treat him right either so he would emotionally abuse me, he made me feel so insecure about my self, my body, my mind, the things i enjoyed that i even forgot i was a person. My sister would get on his side because he would manipulate her. He always compared me to my sister and viceversa, congratulated when one of us was “slimmer” and tell the other one that should lose weight. My sister and i until this day struggle with body dismorphia because of this and we always used to fight, treat each other so bad because we didn’t think of each other as ONE but as competition.

When the relationship between my mom and dad couldn’t be forced anymore, my dad got a job in another city and me, my mom and my sister started living in another state.

My dad would come to visit us but my parents always fought over meaningless stuff. I started to notice that the abuse that my dad did to my mom made her ill, she started developing bpd.
I used to treat myself so bad, i would force myself not to eat, i would sleep all day, i would be on pills to keep myself awake or to fall sleep, i would punch myself, hurt myself.
My family couldn’t understand that i was clearly not ok, that i wasn’t being dramatic when i smashed my head into the wall whenever i was upset, that i would either eat too much or eat nothing. My dad never and until this day doesn’t believe in mental health and mental illnesses “they are not real, you are just lazy” “you need to change your mindset” the last one is true but it ain’t that easy because it’s not something you choose, it’s more than a feeling, it’s a chemical imbalance in your brain. When i was 14-16 i was diagnosed with social anxiety. It was the worst period of my lifetime because i wasn’t able to do normal activities my friends could, like go shopping cause crowds made me anxious and trying into clothes triggered me, talk to new people, practicing something new because i couldn’t face rejection, eating in front of people. I stayed in my house all the time sleeping or eating.

I tried committing suicide when i was about 14 and 16, i was hospitalized like three times for 1-2 months. He got worried but he started to made me feel guilty. My mom helped me out a lot and so did my sister, my father slowly started to try to help me in the way he could even though he wasn’t great he was at least trying.

When i there were only 4 years left until i graduate school i changed to a new one because i failed one year since i was hospitalized and lost many days. I was hopeless and my friend’s mom told her about an art school project that’s close to my city my mom told me about it and i got excited but i wasn’t sure, it wasn’t like i had an option because school was 2 weeks ahead, so i said yes.

It was a great decision. I met new people, people liked me. I could start a new life. I started doing things i never thought i’d be able to do again, i was learning about things that i loved, i got closer to music, i even try acting a few times (it was horrifying and had several multiple panic attacks but i can say that i could do it at least three times).
In the two last years of school (in this school) you have to choose specialty between arts, music or theater. I was between music and theater but the last one would make my anxiety even worse so i protected myself and choose music (i wanted to go to that school because of music at first) and it was the best decision i could make, i didn’t have friends at first and felt lonely for a couple of months and i felt stupid because everyone could play an instrument or sing(i could too but i wasn’t THAT great) i didn’t want to go because the voice in my head was there again, making me feel like i wasn’t enough, i didn’t deserve to be there.
Until a met my closest friend now. I’ve never felt more blessed, she’s everything i could ask in a friend, she respects me and my space, hears me, she’s a great musician and doesn’t make me feel like i’m an idiot for not knowing some things, she explaines to me those things, she is nice and kind, really funny and gives the best hugs ever. She wasn’t in the best headspace too i truly believe we found each other for a reason because we’ve grown so much together, we’ve faced fears and challenges together.
One teacher believed in me and talked to me about why i wasn’t going and i told him that i didn’t feel like i was enough, he said to me that i was and that i did have talent and that i was passionate about music. He saw something in me and didn’t leaved me behind, he was really kind to me, he helped me a lot.

I was able to get in in the little orchesta of the school and they teached me clarinet, i fell in love with wind instruments and i had never thought i was even able to play one….
I was able to play in concerts, last year one of our classmates passed away.. it was really hard for everyone, we went to the funeral and played for them because that’s what the parents also wanted. Ive always been drawned to spirituality but i’ve never knew what to do about it, you prettyyyy and mysterious universe haha i forgot to say it but in 2017 i discovered Wynonna Earp and boyyyy it saved my life. I did some research on the people who played the characters and found a small little angel that i was drawn to miss dom!!! i don’t remember exactly when but i noticed she was vegan and had a channel in youtube “start the wave” i’ve tried going vegetarian once but i went back on meat because my family didn’t understand i wasn’t that informed so b12 was kinda fucking me uppppp sis hahah but anyway these videos helped me so m u c h i’ve been vegetarian since i saw that “veganism” video. I eat vegan food every time i possibly can and the same with drinking milk or eggs because i honestly don’t even like those things anymore. Dominique idk if you’re reading this or if you will ever read this between the amount of stories you receive but there’s one thing you should know.

I wouldn’t be the same person if i would had not found you, in fact i’m not sure if i were able to have the strength to make it trough. you had helped me so much, made me connect with myself and my spirituality again, made me realize so many things about love. I’m forever grateful and i truly hope one day i’ll be able to tell you this in person and hug you, you made a huge positive impact on my life, i want nothing but love and feeling at peace.

I truly believe the world is awakening too, we’ve never been more aware, last year the country i live had a rebellion, a beautiful one, people finally started to protest against the system, reclaiming for the rights. The young generation like me did it, and then everyone slowly started to join, even though the coward system and police repressed us by killing and disappearing people, by shooting lacrymogenic on porpuse to people’s eyes (many people lost their eyes for this reason), by torturing people, etc we the young generation are not giving up, we get that the older generation is mostly scared because of the dictatorship of Pinochet in the 73’ but we are not giving up on our rights, we will not let old people die waiting for health or having a miserable jubilation, we’re not letting them to live indebted all of our lives and never living with dignity either, we crave justice for the missing, for the femicide, for the children who live in a system called “sename” who’s supposed to take care of them by taking them away of dangerous situations/houses, but instead make them live a living hell there.

I’ve never felt better and aware, since last year i got into divination, wicca, meditation, crystals, into healing myself, taking care of myself, going to the psychiatrist, started to do things because i enjoyed them even if i feel i suck, started playing the saxophone, singing more and playing more guitar, exercise, i don’t have my life resolved but i’m enjoying the little things for now, finding purpose. My mom’s mental health is not great either but she tries her best, my sister and I get along so fucking good, we laugh sooo much together, talk about these things that made us turn out this way, the things we lived, everything, she’s a beautiful soul. I feel so fucking connected to the universe know that it sorta freaks me out, like synchronization, seeing the same numbers everywhere, manifestation and believe me you don’t even know how much you helped and help me until today.

my story is not over yet and i may have wrotte some words wrong but i am proud of everything i’ve been trough, i’m proud of knowing english and understanding without even studying it, i’m proud of the person reading this, i’m proud we’ve all made it this far, i’m proud of dominique. i’m proud of being queer.

Nicole (not Haught)

I am on my mid-30s, have been married to a man for 10 years, have 2 young kids and have just recently begun to come out. It’s in some ways a sad journey because it marks the end of my marriage to a truly amazing man who gave me the security and space to find myself, but it is not the end of my family. I feel an incredible sense of relief at finally being able to love and accept myself and live an honest life. My children will be better for having a happy mother, and they still have 2 loving parents who love them very much.
Announcing your divorce and your queerness all at once is quite a lot, but I have been so lucky to receive nothing but support from my friends and family.
I think part of what scared me for so long was being defined by my sexuality, but we are all so much more than that aren’t we? I am a mother, a friend, a damn successful businesswoman, a sister, a daughter…and I happen to also be a lesbian.

LOUISE

OK and wow… I first came out in 1974…a long, long time ago, in a world so unregonizable and foreign. After this teenage romance died I scurried back into the closet. I tried so hard to make it in the straight world. Now please remember in the 1970s there was no positive role model. There was no Melissa Etheridge, no Ellen. Representation of our community was nil. If we were represented on TV or film we were either killed off violently or we were freaking physcotic. At the lowest point I did consider harm to myself. I was alone and frigjtened
As hard as I tried I could not fit in with my straight friends. There was no positive space in universitys. Then… Ta da… Life threw me a life line. 1978 I met a woman who saved, who changed my life. She taught me gay was good. Being a. Lesbian was just fine. I was free. I was exhilarated. I was finally happy with me. I was going to be OK. With a lighter heart I embraced who I was. I came out to family–go figure, they weren’t surprised. My parents, etc were and have been extremely supportive. 1980…i met my sweetheart and this year we celebrate our 40th anniversary. Whew. Each day, each year has been an exciting adventure. Watching the LGBTQ grow, flourish. So… Moral of the story… Be, true to yourself, be true to your heart. Most of all be kind to yourself… Support one another and celebrate our pride.

The Long Road To Acceptance

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

It all started when I was 12 years old and I had my first experience with lesbian representation on tv. For some reason I couldn’t get it off my mind and I sat alone in my room wondering if it could be possible… could I be gay? The answer was clearly yes but my young, innocent self didn’t figure it out that easily. I went through the stages, denial, denial, oh she’s beautiful… wait, denial, denial, denial. At this time in the world the whole concept of LGBT+ was taboo and so separate from what is taught to us as ‘normal’ that I believed something was wrong with me. This couldn’t be happening to me. I was 12-13 years old and I already hated myself.

I then felt, that because I had discovered this aspect of me, I had to come out immediately. Isn’t that how it goes? I was pressured by a ‘friend’ to tell them my secret but the fear consumed me and I couldn’t do it. I now know it’s because I wasn’t ready but that didn’t matter to her and I wrote my secret on a small piece of paper in class. She opened it and class was over. I felt sick and terrified. That’s not where the note stopped and instead it made it’s way to someone else… Then you know how school is. The next day a lot of people knew. I don’t even know who did or didn’t to this day but at the time it felt as though my whole world knew and they were all staring at me. I lost all of my friends. I had no one. It made me feel dirty. I didn’t want this anymore.

I didn’t deal with this well at all or in a healthy way. I was cowering to the farthest corner of the closet trying to grasp onto the darkness with all of my strength. The same person that received my note first showed me how to take my fear, disgust, punishment out on myself physically. It didn’t help but I needed control over something because I was lost. The darkness of that closet spread to my life everywhere and I was very close to ending the darkness all together…

I made it, I’m not sure how, but I made it through school and at 16 years old I was free of those people and the label of being gay. So I left the label there and I pretended like I’d never even considered it to begin with. For another 3-4 years I lived in blindness of who I was and did everything I could to stop any thoughts of the past and the rainbow. To be honest, for a while it worked but was I happy? Was I comfortable? Did I deserve it? No absolutely not.
I started university, I got with guys. I got told I should be getting with guys. Does it feel like this for everyone? Maybe you aren’t supposed to really like it? I did not enjoy it but I was still covering my eyes and ears from anything other than what was expected. I guess I actually drank enough to dull my senses and not acknowledge what was really happening. Yes, my use of physical harm on myself moved to borderline alcoholism. I mean it is university after all. But this way of living helped me kiss who I wanted to kiss and be with who I wanted to without explaining myself almost. When you do kiss who you are meant to, I am telling you, it feels amazing and right and everything it should. Wait… can I actually do this? Look around, people here don’t care. No one cares. Yes, please be yourself. It feels too good not too.

Watch out, your rainbow is showing! Finally.

It doesn’t matter how I got here or how long it took. What matters is that I did. This is my journey. It is beautiful.

I managed to find my truth and even though it took counselling and a breakdown to grieve my straight self I am me and I found someone outstanding to love along the way.

I finally accept myself, the love of my support system which I am incredibly lucky to have and the love from myself. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy or it is always sunshine now but it is true and it is free. I still get looks when I hold my girlfriend’s hand in public. I still get approached by people when I decide to kiss her in public. I still don’t tell people I first meet about my sexuality because I don’t want to be judged. I still scout out any representation I can of LGBT+ content in media because we still don’t have enough (but thank you for what we do have, just don’t kill off all the lesbians please). However, I will take all of that because I also love this unique part of myself and I really bloody love love.

It is getting better and we are all in this together. I am thankful for my story and I am thankful for my gay.

So breathe, take your time, love yourself and make waves. You got this!

Love, Hannah.

#OUTISTHENEWIN

Bisexual

Growing up I was taught “God didn’t make us to be gay”, but now I’m an atheist so I say fuck the rules.

When I turned 14 I was met with the biggest challenge in my adolescent life ‘love’, I was told from a very young age that I will one day have my first crush and my first kiss with a boy I really like, but instead that ‘boy’ was changed into Rachel Lewis, a girl in my grade who stole my pens and my heart, she helped me accept a part of me I never thought I would and that was the fact that I was queer.

Rachel was a pretty toxic person to have a crush on, she played with my head, was super bipolar and ignored me for no reason other than the fact that she was bored. But even though she was a condescending bitch, a really pretty condescending bitch might I add, when we were talking about how we were in love with our English teacher every bad thing she had done just disappeared.

When I was 14, I assumed I was a lesbian, because of my lack of interest in boys at the time and my love for Katie McGrath, but then I later realized that……

I’m Bisexual

I think the reason I was so quick to diagnose myself with ‘lesbian’ was because of the lack of representation and understanding I had of bisexuals. I hear people talk about internalized homophobia, but this was internalized biphobia.

When I hit the ripe age of 16, I experienced for the first time, Homophobia and from my own mother, she had found out I was Bi by going through my messages, I was yelled at, hit, had my hair grabbed and dragged across the floor, I felt completely helpless.

But then I woke up

My body was in pain and my head hurt and at that moment I felt truly alone. My mother moved me to Australia with my Aunt forcing me to leave behind my friends, my sisters and Rachel Lewis.

This was a year ago and I still have the scar of that beating I got physically and mentally, I love my mum and am still in contact with her, I call her constantly and miss her a lot.

The part of her that doesn’t hate me deep down for being bi

I’m still in the closet with everyone. I haven’t had a girlfriend or boyfriend, yet which is depressing but writing this gives me a false sense of freedom I can only get from coming out, so I’ll say this once

If its love, fuck the rules

I’m Bisexual and proud

Kind-dorky-lesbian-queer-gay

Looking back (on my *very* old and *very* cringe-worthy social media) it seems like I should have known that something was up WAY EARLIER. I always felt more drawn to girls -be that in real life or in characters of books and movies- found them to be more interesting, enticing and mysterious. Beautiful. Next to them my brain equated men with dull, boring and uninteresting. Mind you I value men and I am lucky to say I have some incredible guy-friends and always had them throughout my life. I also grew up in a very openminded and accepting family so my inhibitions and repression truly came from ‚society’. Never in my dreams would I have thought that I would be gay! Where would that thought have come from. I just always thought I wasn’t into relationships. (This is what a heteronormative society does to queer folk!) Turns out I am actually interested in love -what a surprise that was. But my period of self-reflection would never have started had it not been for positive representation in the media I consumed. Most notably Carmilla and Emily Andras’ work on Lost Girl (and later Wynonna Earp) played a big role in that. There were more but non as impactful.
So then I knew. Well I suspected. Then debated with myself for a few weeks and THEN finally I knew. Honestly that was the hardest part for me. The coming to terms with myself. Guess there must have been more internalized issues there than I would have thought possible. Then I told my two best friends -old school style- via actual physical letters I sent them. They were great and I knew they would be. Then came what I like to call my ‚closet-Phase’. It wasn’t long but it was hella awkward. I soon told my sisters and then a few days later I blurted our my truth over lunch to my parents. Not the most graceful move but effective. At this point I would have thought there was no possible way for me to be more openly queer. (I’m talking RAINBOWS EVERYWHERE.) Still I continuously came out to more people in my life. Some were surprised some already knew. Some came out to me in turn as well. On the anniversary of coming out to my besties I got a rainbow tattoo on my ankle. Now I wear a rainbow necklace I was gifted that same year and have never taken off since. My earrings, piercings and watch-band are rainbow. Still some people need to be told. I feel like I will never be done ‚Coming Out’ but I am happy and proud to do it. For all the people who can’t yet themselves live their truth.

Non binary who loves life

When I was in 8th grade I went to a Catholic school. Dating period wasn’t something that was talked about and was just kinda wrong. After a sleep over with some good friends I was cuddled by a best friend. Something in that moment made me feel something that no guy had ever made me feel. In the following weeks I noticed little things about this girl that sat next to me. It exploded from there. 2 months after this someone outed me. No one talked to me I became a social out cast in an extremely small school.

My dad loved me from the start. He’s supported me so much he’s taken me to pride events and I love him for it. He isn’t exactly okay with the idea of non binary people. He just says they want attention but I don’t feel okay telling him that I identify as that. He loves me but it’s part of my life that I have to hide from him. But despite what he thinks I know how I am.
I am a strong human being who loves art and baking and I couldn’t be more greatful for a place to share my story.

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

Lesbian

I came out when I turned 18 and finished high school. I posted this on my blog for the whole world to see:

I like girls. It seems very easy to say, but it wasn’t for me. Just like many people will say it isn’t. But I’m ready now, ready to be who I really am. No more hiding.

I’m 18 now, but I’ve known for a few years. There are a few reasons why I haven’t told anyone yet and I am still unsure wether this is the best way to do so, but here it goes.

I wanted to resist that I should have to stand up for it. It came so normal for me and I didn’t think it was fair that I would have to justify myself for who I love. I might have hoped that it would become clear by itself.

Another reason was school; I was in a not very accepting school and I was already not accepted by the other students. I didn’t feel safe enough to open myself up. So I waited until I graduated and gave myself this summer to finally be honest with myself and all my friends, family and acquaintances.

The idea to go to Pride was a natural choice, because I think it is so important and I really could use it. I have felt so accepted this weekend, by everyone around me on Pride and it really helped me. The self-confidence of others radiated to me and through that energy I eventually found the courage to express myself. I will always be grateful for that. It were not only strangers who helped me, but also my closest friends who supported me enormously and gave me a lot of love, so that I now dare to be truly proud of myself and who I really am.