I knew since I was six years old. Six. I had a crush on my sister’s softball coach, whom also happened to be my neighbor. Being so young, I had no idea what I was actually feeling. You know, when you’re a kid, you just live in the moment without questioning things. I, however, intuitively knew that it wasn’t exactly considered the ‘norm’ in Catholic school or even society.
As I grew up, I had been attracted to men with random attractions to women. I had my first boyfriend at 16 years old, and although I cared about him, it didn’t feel authentic. I stuffed down my “mini crushes” for women here and there and carried on. I had convinced myself that it was the right thing to do for myself, for my family and friends, and for God. I had so many beliefs that I was not worthy of love because I was attracted to women.
It wasn’t until I went to college where I decided I couldn’t hide anymore. I was never a promiscuous college student, but I had my fair share of nights making out with men solely to hide my deeper curiosities and knowings. I felt like I was avoiding women while at the same time wanting to put myself out there and date. It was almost like living a secret life, only I was the one who put myself in that prison.
When I did come out, at 20 years old, it felt surreal. One of my best friends outright asked me, and not long after that, I was sitting on my bed talking to my mom about my sexuality. I could remember my mom crying out of worry that I would be bullied or possibly harmed. My dad wasn’t so concerned, but then again, he isn’t a man of many words. My sister was supportive as well as my extended family and friends.
I have to say I am extremely lucky. I did not lose anyone in my life because I identify as a lesbian. If anything, I feel it strengthened my bonds with my family and friends — not because I am gay — but because I started to become my true, authentic self.
If I had to give anyone advice about coming out, it would be this: Come out when you are ready, but don’t hide for too long. It eats away at you as time goes on. I understand the desire to stay hidden, but true liberation occurs when you free yourself from your fears and judgments.
No matter who you love, you are always worthy of love.