Hi all – welcome back!
As you may know, June is Pride month, so I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community, which also has me feeling inspired to share my personal coming out story with you. I welcome everyone to use this platform to share their stories, thoughts, and feelings as well!
I actually have never shared this story publicly, so here goes nothing…
Growing up as a young child, I was always a tomboy. I never wanted to play with Barbies or any other dolls, and was always more comfortable playing sports with the boys in the neighborhood. I can even remember not wanting to wear “girls’” bathing suits and wanting to only wear shorts, like the boys did, and would wrap my towel around my waist, as opposed to wrapping it around my chest to cover my body. I was just one of those girls who was drawn to more “boy” things. Of course, as a kid, I never viewed that as being different, and my parents never made me feel like it was different, so I carried on well into my teenage years being a certified tomboy.
As I look back now on my former self, can I say I felt I was the wrong gender? No. I never felt like I was supposed to be a boy; however, I just always related more to “boy” stuff. This would carry on well into my young adult years, as I was an exceptional athlete who played any and every sport I could. That was the place where I excelled and felt my best.
However, as I quickly approached the ages of 14, 15 and 16, I started seeing the other girls around me – how they were dressing, and the attention they would get from boys – and found myself feeling left out and wanting to be like them. Like many people do, I did what I needed to in order to feel like I fit in: I started wearing more feminine clothes, and doing more girly things, and I noticed a shift in how I was received by the other girls and the boys as well…and I liked it. It still felt somewhat foreign to me, and I had to work at being feminine (you could never truly take the tomboy out of me), but I conformed to what I viewed as being “normal” for a girl. I think I did so because somewhere inside me, I was seeking attention from the girls more so than the boys. I can recall times where I would feel attracted to girls, but at that point in my life, the safest and most obvious thing to do was to suppress those feelings and lock them away somewhere VERY safe where no one would find them.
I did that until I was 22 years old.
It was a long time to wait, to truly figure out and accept who I was, but better late than never, right?! I actually feel quite happy with my journey, which led me to understand that I was attracted to both sexes, but much more so to women than men. I mean, for 22 years I exclusively dated men. That’s gotta count for something! But the pull towards women was stronger for me.
And when I had my first sexual experience with a woman at age 21, I felt something shift in my brain and my being. It was like a dull battery just got charged, and felt at full power, for the first time. That dull, stagnant battery was now charged – and I finally saw what life was like when it was operating at full capacity. With that said, it doesn’t mean I became an “out” lesbian woman overnight. I still fought those feelings hard, because it wasn’t what I saw to be “normal,” and none of my other friends were dating women, so I continued to try and suppress the electric charge I got. Nonetheless, that didn’t last long – I entered into what I considered to be my first relationship with a woman, who also at the time, happened to be a best friend (who was heterosexual). I fell in love with her, and that was when I knew I couldn’t fight those feelings anymore. I decided I was going to explore relationships with women, and deal with the consequences, disappointments, and whatever else that meant for me.
My coming out to my family was, in hindsight, hilarious. I took my sister out to lunch, and told her I had something to tell her. I said I was going to share with her 3 things, and she had to pick which one was the true one. Here were her options: 1. I was getting married 2. I was pregnant 3. I was gay. I’ll never forget her reaction, because she legitimately laughed at me when she heard her options. She said, “C’mon Steph, obviously you aren’t getting married or pregnant! I’ve had my suspicions for quite some time that you were gay!” We both laughed, hugged, and that was the end of that coming out story, which was painless.
There’s such a build-up in our minds about the possibility of rejection, and that fear often overwhelms. I was unbelievable relieved with the response I got from her.
But she was the easy one.
I had to tell my parents next: I sort of took the same approach in giving the “3 options,” and to my surprise, I again, got laughed at – in a good way. Apparently, everyone around me already knew, or was expecting me to “come out,” and it was only a matter of time before I did so.
WHEW! It was a HUGE sigh of relief having my family be so supportive.
And finally, my friends. This was where I really struggled, and in fact, I hid my next relationship from them for months, despite being out to my family.
When my grandmother passed away, I was forced to tell my friends about my sexuality. They were coming to the funeral, and my girlfriend was going to be there as well, which meant I couldn’t dodge this conversation any longer. I honestly don’t know why I struggled so hard to tell them. Perhaps I thought that once they knew I was gay, they would have this fear of me, and think I wanted to sleep with them and would hit on them, which was obviously not the case. I actually had the most difficulty telling my best friend of 15 years, which in theory should have been the easiest, but I think I struggled most with telling her, because I didn’t want to disappoint what she knew of me. We spent our entire childhood together chasing after boys, and that was what she knew of me to be. It would be her realizing that I was, in a sense, living a lie this entire time, and what would that mean for our friendship?? I didn’t give her nearly enough credit that she would be accepting of me no matter what, whether I was dating boys or girls or whomever. When I finally told her, she was sad that I felt like I had to keep it from her.
I can’t tell you the relief I felt when I was able to be truthful to the people that mattered to me most, including myself! There is no greater feeling than being able to be your authentic self, and feel accepted for it.
Sadly, my coming out wasn’t a complete success. Some of my friends were “thrown off” by my coming out, especially the one who I had previously had that first relationship with. Upon telling our friends that we had a “fling,” she denied it all – and then ultimately tried to make me look like I forced the relationship on her, which was quite the opposite of what happened. Despite losing several friends after my coming out, I do feel VERY blessed that, overall, my family and closest friends were accepting of me, and to this day, continue to support everything I do.
I have never felt more love from my family and friends as I did on my wedding day. It’s an experience I will never forget. I urge everyone to try and surround themselves with compassionate, caring, OPEN, and understanding people. I can’t stress it enough: Love Is Love. Nothing else really matters.
Now that you know my coming out story, I hope you feel like you know a little more about me as a person, and why I am so passionate about educating and being open in the LGBTQ+ community. There’s no hiding anymore. I am a proud lesbian woman! Happy Pride y’all!!!