It’s the last day of Pride, dear readers. It’s not time for a wrap-up post, though – not yet. There will be one, tomorrow, recapping all my posts in case you missed any and want to catch up, but today I have an extra-special post because I came out three years ago today.
With each anniversary of this day I find myself more and more surprised that so much time has passed. The years really do fly by, don’t they? People grow and change. We learn new things and make new friends and discover new things about ourselves.
I’m a different person than the girl who came out three years ago. I know that sounds kind of… obvious, but bear with me. So many changes happen without us even realizing it, so when I do sit down and think deeply about all the things that have changed over the past few years I’m rather astonished.
And yet at the same time, sometimes it feels as though very little has changed. That’s equally important to remember. The Orlando shooting really shook me up, for instance, and I’ve been trying to build up my confidence but it’s hard to be as self-assured as I was just a few weeks ago because I was reminded of how much hatred and violence is directed towards us.
Coming out is a little easier now. It’s still not EASY, but I would definitely say that it is easiER. I’m not sure how much I subscribe to the idea that practice makes perfect – and I don’t think it applies to coming out at all because there are so many factors that are completely out of your control, such as the reaction of the person you come out to – but I do think it is something you have to practice. Is there such a thing as a perfect coming out? I don’t really think so. Is there such a thing as being better at coming out than you used to be? Yeah, sure.
I didn’t grow up hearing about and talking about LGBTQ+ people, like, ever. So it’s still really hard for me to talk about that part of myself now. I attribute part of this to the dangers of coming out – what if someone tries to hurt me? – as well to the fact that this simply isn’t a subject I have much experience talking about.
But it is getting a little easier. I’ve gotten older, have more experience, moved to a different town, and have a friend group that is almost exclusively LGBTQ+ which means I have lots of support. All this helps.
While I’m on the subject of finally having LGBTQ+ friends IRL, I want to add that that has been my dream for so long and I’m so happy to finally have a group of people to surround myself with.
I’ve begun to study LGBTQ+ history informally so that I know where our community has been and where we may be headed. I’m doing this informally, partially because I like learning that way anyway and partially because it would be impossible to add a third major in Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies while still graduating by 2018. Also, I have lovely friends who are GWSS majors and they tell me all about the awesome classes they’re taking at the moment.
As discussed in the post I wrote exactly a year ago, I’ve grown better at recognizing my internalized homophobia. I’m trying to combat that, and it’s not easy, but I’m doing my best. I was so scared of who I was and what that meant three years ago. And I guess that in some ways I still am? I’m comfortable with MYSELF, but I am now more aware that many other people aren’t, so I’m scared of what they might do to me.
I’ve learned that I don’t have to keep homophobic people in my life. I don’t have to try to understand where they’re coming from, and I don’t have to excuse their bigotry either. I can find better friends. I deserve better. My friend groups both online and IRL look very different now from what they were three years ago, and it’s for the better.
I’ve grown more comfortable with different labels. I actually plan to write an entire post about this subject because I have just SO much to say, but the gist is that three years ago I was really uncomfortable even saying that I was gay. I didn’t really think of myself as a lesbian, let alone even refer to myself as one, because I’d never heard anyone say that term with anything but disgust. Now I’m more likely to refer to myself as a lesbian than as a gay woman.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. I don’t want to bore you, and this post is already long enough. It’s fascinating to look back at who I was several years and marvel at how much I’ve changed since then, and then look towards the future and wonder how different I may be ten, thirty, sixty years from now.