This isn’t really the most interesting coming out story in the world but I thought I’d contribute my story anyway.
I figured out that I was attracted to girls in the seventh grade. It wasn’t so much a “Oh shit! I like girls! I’m not straight!” as it was a “Oh, so the magnitude of my fixation on *insert any female actress* is NOT experienced by everyone”. However, I didn’t really process what that information meant until one of my classmates had offhandedly mentioned that she had a girlfriend and that she identified as a lesbian. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew that people could like someone of the same gender identity, but the meaning behind being queer held no weight to me until someone put a label onto it. It sort of clicked in a way that made me realize that maybe I was bisexual. Because of that realization, I did the obvious thing and took hundreds of “What is my sexuality?” quizzes and found solidarity and comfort among the dozens of famous or slightly relevant LGBTQ+ Youtube videos and Youtube series’ that were available in 2014.
Before my descent down the rabbit hole that is the numerous quality LGBTQ+ media available to the public, I decided to come out to one of my former best friends. She did not realize that was trying to come out to her, and I had to come out to her again 4 years later.
It took me 2 years after I had realized that I wasn’t straight to actually come out to someone, 1 year to feel comfortable with a label, and like 1 month to decide that- if someone asked me what my sexuality was- I would tell them the truth. So basically, it took 2 years for one of my other best friends to outright ask me if I was asexual before I could say that I was pan/bi. It took me a year after that to come out to my best friend since elementary school. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to hide my sexuality from her as it was that it wasn’t something I wanted to be defined by, nor was it the most important detail about me. Despite my resolve to just come out to her if I ended up liking someone who happened to have the same gender identity as me, I panic texted her. This was after a friend of ours asked me if I was straight while my best friend was sitting there with us. I ended up giving that friend a roundabout answer and then came out officially to my best friend at midnight over text.
Now, I am luck enough to not experience extreme homophobia directed at myself and I am extremely lucky to be, and have been, friends with open-minded and accepting people, so I didn’t really consciously feel internalized homophobia/biphobia until years after I realized that I was indeed NOT straight. I didn’t feel that way until I was asked by my mom to warn her if I happened to be attracted to a girl or, better yet, just not like girls at all. Because of that, I grew conscious of the underlying yet ever-present homophobia found in my relative’s uninformed opinions about the LBGTQ+ community. I wasn’t afraid that my family would disown me or stop loving me, but I became afraid that I would have to compromise who I am in order not be seen as an outlier by my aunts and uncles. Honestly, I was more afraid because I wasn’t sure how my parents would react. I ended up hiding who I am from both my parents and my older sister, who I knew didn’t care and didn’t hold the same “traditionalist” values that my extended family and my parents did. I was too afraid that, if I told her, my parents and extended family would somehow find out. I made the same resolve that I had made before with my elementary school best friend: I would just casually introduce my girlfriend to her when I eventually started to actually date girls (or people in general). That, however, did not happen. Instead, I came out to her when she asked me how I identified while we were watching Bon Appetit Youtube videos.
These aren’t the only coming out stories that I have, and I definitely didn’t elaborate on every detail, but these were the moments that actually held some importance to me. Each time I came out to someone that held/holds an extreme amount of importance to my life, none of it went as planned. I had to take a leap of faith and trust that I was loved enough that, a detail about who I was, wasn’t going to change how my friends and family viewed me. I’m still not out to the rest of my family, but knowing that I didn’t have anything to hide from my sister lifted a weight I didn’t even know I had on me. Even without me coming out, my parents have started to become more welcome to the idea that girls like girls and that’s okay.
Just having even one person to talk to, who knew I liked girls, helped me to become even more comfortable with my sexuality. Without the positive LGBTQ+ representation in the media, I would have felt alone before I even knew what I identified as. I was okay with my sexuality until I wasn’t, but, even then, I had enough support to continue to take leaps of faith.
I don’t think there’s really a right way to come out, nor do I know when the right time to come out is. However, I do think that having even one person (whether it’s someone online or someone you know in real life) know and support you for who you are is by far the most freeing thing in the world.
I’m out and proud to the people that I get to choose to include in my life, and I am so excited to see the world continually progress and become a more accepting place (with better LGBTQ+ and PoC representation in mainstream media)