Hi All! Your neighborhood sparkly lesbian here... I think that most of you know I'm a lesbian, I certainly don't hide it but my sexuality also isn't a cornerstone of my business because, much like my curly hair or blue eyes, it's just kind of part of who I am. However, I also know that not everyone has experienced the acceptance or love that I have for being who they are and I feel an important duty to share my story and reach out to those who may feel alone.
I FORMALLY came out as gay later in life. I informally came out as gay early in my teens when I wrote "Christina Aguilera Have My Babies" on a burned CD mix (gosh remember those burned CD's?). I knew fairly early on that I was interested in women, but didn't truly explore those feelings until a bit later in life. Despite growing up in a Catholic family and church, I never got the message that being gay was wrong. I always had friends who were pretty openly gay and being gay never came with negative connotations. I realize how fortunate I am as my experiences shaped my openness in coming out and definitely decreased the anxiety that many feel about it (don't worry- I still had anxiety).
I did the typical high school first love boyfriend thing, and then I honestly didn't date much in college or for most of my 20's. I had a crush on a female basketball player in college (we refer to her as "girl crush"). I think I was afraid to explore the intimate relationship side of things so I threw myself into school and my career and made that my main focus. It wasn't until I was COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone, having left academia and my career behind and living in Italy, that I was honest with myself about the status of my personal life. I knew I always had stronger feelings towards women and knew I would regret not exploring that part of me.
I did what any curious millennial would do, I immediately hopped on Italian lesbian tinder and in true lesbian form, started a relationship soon after. I immediately knew that I never wanted to be in a relationship with a man again. No one in my close circle knew I was dating a woman as I was living in Italy and many time zones away. But I'm really close with my family and friends and don't have a great poker face so knew I needed to tell them sooner rather than later. About 3 weeks into dating my first girlfriend I told my mom that I was "hanging out with someone, and that someone happened to be a girl". She was a little surprised, wanted to know what that meant (I said I think it means I'm "bi"? As I was still unsure what it meant myself), and basically said "I love you". Now, we subsequently had more difficult conversations than that- I don't have a relationship with my father so she was concerned it had something to do with that dynamic (spoiler: it doesn't- while relationships with your parents undoubtedly have an effect on who you are a bad relationship with one parent doesn't completely change your sexuality- plus the Christina Aguilera moment happened LONG before my separation with my dad). Long story short, she was confused. She didn't quite understand initially but has been supportive from day one and now is completely accepting and understanding and proud of who I am. I had similar experiences with other family and friends. I got some "I'm not surprised" or "it's about time" from friends and a lot of "oh, okay, good for you".
I've worked through the "what am I" and have landed on... I'm gay. I'm a lesbian. I'm now engaged to the love of my life, my fiancé Liz, and her and I are living in lesbian bliss with our dog, Tripp, a closet full of sequins and a home full of love. While my coming out story is fairly uneventful, as a gay person, coming out doesn't stop after you've told the people most important to you. I have to come out nearly every day to people. I have to be aware of my audience and gauge whether I say "she" or "they" when referring to my fiancé (I refuse to say "he" even if I know it will make me feel safer or more accepted). I have to correct people when they ask about my boyfriend or husband. Sometimes I don't correct them because I don't feel safe doing so. Liz and I are aware of spaces in which we feel comfortable showing affection or when we just act like buddies. But in the end we're incredibly lucky to have a circle of support where we feel safe and comfortable being who we are and being in love.
I know not everyone is as lucky. As an LGBTQIA community we have come so far, and so many people have fought and lost their lives for us to be able to live in a world where we can be so open. But, it hasn't always been this way, and it still isn't for many people. Many people don't feel comfortable coming out to their families. Many people are homeless or living in poverty because their families and friends disowned them. There's still fighting left to do on an individual, community, and political level for people to feel safe and have access to resources. If you are someone who doesn't feel safe coming out to those close to you, know you aren't alone. You may feel alone but we love you and we see you. I'm always happy to talk and am always here to listen and find ways to support. You have a family in me.