Saying it out loud. Coming Out – Part Two

I was drunk and it was dark, but like a good dark, a warm comfortable one. It was the kind of dark that made it easier to say things, a dark where you can barely make out the faces around you but knew they were listening. It was there, alcohol bottles scattered around a living room where I said, “yeah you know what, I think I probably like girls.” Everyone in the room laughed and squealed “you like girls! you like girls!” I sighed, then laughed, took another sip of my drink and started telling stories about making out with girls at parties. After a few minutes the conversation drifted to other things and it was almost like it never happened.  There was no sweeping declarations, no shocked expressions, no labels, just a group of friends, laughing and drinking in the dark.

It was the first time I had ever admitted out loud that I liked girls. It wasn’t planned, I wasn’t anticipating it, it just spilled out of my mouth like it had been stuck there for awhile, dying to get out. I was relieved, and surprised at my relief. I didn’t realize how much I was hurting myself by never telling anyone I thought I was bi. I knew I needed to tell more people, specifically my best friends. Telling them would make it more real, I knew it’d be more of a declaration than I drunken confession.

We were at home, in our shared town house, gathered in Rubi’s bedroom. There was wine I think, a bottle to split between the four of us. I was sitting on her floor, or maybe the bed, while they talked around me. I was nervous. It’s easy to say something new and scary to people you just met, or barely know. It’s an entirely different scenario when you’re sharing something with your best friends in a well lit room with nowhere to hide. I could feel the words sitting behind my teeth, knowing I had to tell them. It should be easy right? These were the people that knew and loved me, some of who had come out before, just a quick sentence and it’d be done.

“So…I told some people last night that I like girls, and that I’m bi.”

“Oh my god, this is too much right now.”

“You told them before US?”

“I always knew you were.”

It’s not the reaction I was expecting. I’m sure my face was red from the emotions that welled inside me. I wanted to take back the words, pull them from the bright room and tuck them back into the safety of my mouth. I was hurt, embarrassed, and then panicked.

The realization that they knew, or at least guessed, hit me hard. If they could see it, could everyone? Was there something about me, the way I talked, dressed, or walked that signaled to others that I was attracted to girls? If they knew, did my family know? Did my mom?  It’s then that I realized I was out, but maybe not ready to be. I shouldn’t feel panicked about being seen as gay and yet I was. I thought I had fully accepted myself but…I hadn’t.

It would take me four more years from this moment in order to come out to my family and to announce myself as bi on social media where any past friends or distant relatives could see. Four years of conversations with these same friends, learning to unravel the shame I had buried inside myself. Years of laughing, crying, and experiences that would lead me to being able to stand confidently in my sexuality. I’m bi, and I’m okay with everyone knowing.

Happy pride month! It's been a year since I last wrote about coming out which is WILD. I wanted to take a moment to say I'm extremely privileged when it comes to my coming out. I was always in a safe, loving environment and knew I wouldn't receive any backlash except for maybe some hurt feelings. That is not the case for many LGBTQ+ people around the world so this pride month I'll be donating to The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.   

If you can, please consider donating to them HERE

Oh wait, I might have feelings for you. Coming Out – Part One.

We were sitting side by side on her small dorm bed watching Netflix. We had just gotten back from a house party where we knew no one and had left just as the cops showed up, a typical Saturday night for us. We were drunk and giggly and at some point had started holding hands. You know it wasn’t entirely unusual thing for us, we were both touchy affectionate drunks, always cuddling up with whoever was near and yet this time was different. I can’t remember what we were saying or even watching but I can see her face and feel her hand in mine when I lifted it up and rested it on my leg and thought, “Oh. Oh no.”

It was this moment that I finally admitted to myself that I had feelings for one of my best friends, and that maybe, I wasn’t as straight as I always claimed to be.

Claimed… but didn’t always believe but okay let’s rewind.

Before I was there, a freshman in college with a huge crush on her new best friend, I was a teen who buried any thought of liking girls. The knowing and the feelings would often hit me out of nowhere. A friend brushes her hands through my hair and I like it a little too much, or I learn of someone’s aunt or cousin that had come out and I think “Oh, I wish that were me.” Before I’d shake myself out of it and tell myself, “come on you don’t like girls stop thinking you do” as if I could somehow control it.

I remember a time in middle school when I was at a friends house with a bunch of girls for a sleepover, we were playing truth or dare when one girl turned to our friend and said, “Sara*, I dare you to kiss Raye.” The feeling that went through me can only be called gay panic. Why were they choosing ME, could they tell? Could they see it on me, did I say or do anything that may have hinted it? Luckily, Sara mumbled something about not knowing me well enough and everyone laughed and moved on while I sat there in panicked silence.

Looking back at all the times I realized I was gay* and immediately shut it down makes me sad for young me. I wasn’t raised in a homophobic household, I had friends and family who had come out and yet the fear of liking girls was so strong that it took me until I was in college to finally take the first steps to accepting who I was.

So back to the dorm room. I had realized I had feelings for my friend but was in no way prepared to deal with those feelings. She was straight, as far as I knew, and I hadn’t even uttered the word “gay or bi” to myself yet. So I did what I had always done, bury the feelings and try to not let them show. The rest of my friendship with this girl was amazing at times, and extremely hurtful and confusing at others. I never admitted my feelings for her, instead was content for drunk hand holding or kisses until the time came for us to grow a part.

I wish I could say that after I realized my feelings for her that I happily came out of the closet but in reality that’s not what happened. I still had to have certain experiences and relationships before I could be comfortable with who I was but this crush? This crush was a step, and I’m thankful for it.

Happy Pride Month friends, I’ve been wanting to write about coming out for awhile now but haven’t figured out how so I decided to start here. This might be part one in a series or I might chicken out and never write about coming out again but I doubt that. 

*Name changed because who knows what people from middle school may be reading this

*I use gay, queer, and bi interchangeably some people may not agree but all three identities feel right and comfortable to me