“Hey! How are you doing? Good?.. Good. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!… I know! We’re both so busy, college and all that… Yeah, I saw pictures of the ring on Facebook!… No, no boyfriend here! Girlfriend, actually…”
This dialogue’s something that I have become all-too familiar with since coming out last October. Coming home from college for the summer meant coming out to nearly every old classmate I ran into, since I dated one boy exclusively all the way through high school. I knew I was gay, but was unable to accept it, so I dated Brad in order to convince myself (and anybody else, as if they cared) that I was straight. However, I was depressed and anxious; lying every minute of the day was causing this mental pain that I was unable to share because of its roots.
My freshman year of college I admitted to myself that I liked girls the way I thought I should like boys. I gave myself time to get used to this, and the longer I contemplated it, the more accepting of myself I became. After about a year of being open in my own head, I decided I was comfortable enough to be open with everyone else. So I broke up with Brad (sorry for 4 wasted years buddy, I wish you all the best) and planned how I would disclose such sensitive information.
I go to a small school based in Southern Baptist traditions, smack dab in the middle of Bum Fuck Egypt, Kentucky. Because of the republican, conservative, southern traditions the school and its attendees hold, I was weary of coming out at all. The student body is roughly 1,500 people, and the rumor mill runs in overdrive, meaning any juicy gossip usually circulates within two hours of its revelation. However, I pride myself in being a very honest person, and continuing to lie about who I was just wasn’t going to fly (no matter how comfortable I had become in the closet over 7 years).
I started by coming out slowly to a few trusted teammates (I play collegiate Lacrosse… How stereotypically gay can I get?) and was met with full support. Nobody was weird around me or made me uncomfortable. Around the same time, I began casually seeing a girl I met on Tinder. She encouraged me to continue coming out, but I wasn’t ready yet, so I stuck with a close friends only. I managed to keep it quiet until February.
When the chill of winter had began to fade, I decided I was comfortable and happy enough in my sexuality to be open to the world. I came out to my coaches, teammates, teachers, friends, and peers. Not once was I greeted with homophobia or bigotry. I found myself surrounded with unconditional love on all sides. It was amazing.
The girl I had been seeing moved to Prague and I found myself single and out for the first time. Cue Emilie.
Emilie was my good friend’s roommate and a quietly out member of the lesbian community. She would never deny being gay (unless her safety was compromised in some way) but didn’t exactly wear a rainbow cape and tutu whilst screaming to the heavens that she was a lady lover. It just wasn’t her style. She’s tall, athletic, with dark brown hair and green eyes that reminded me of a never-ending evergreen forest. She is gorgeous, according to damn near everyone, with a heart like nobody I had ever met. I (being the insecure, self-depreciating person that I am) was convinced I wasn’t on her radar in the slightest. Well, long story short, it’s been three months and I’m lucky enough to call this ray of light my girlfriend.
Sophomore year of college was drawing to a close, and Emilie and I had been fairly serious up to this point. However, all good things must come to an end, and end they did. I was returning home to Louisville for the summer while Em was headed five hours above me to her hometown in northern Indiana. I knew I didn’t want to go three months without seeing my girl, but I wasn’t yet out to my parents. Em was the instigator, though not the reason, for me to tell the ‘rentals.
I’m not going into any gory detail, but it will suffice to say my parents didn’t take it well. They believe this is a phase, that I will go to hell if I continue on with this lifestyle, that I am compromising their beliefs with my convictions, and (in a direct quote from my father) that I am “just trying to complicate [their] lives and make [them] uncomfortable.” They are acting as though this is some form of rebellion, and something I should be ashamed of, and something that my 8-year-old sister should be protected from. In short, I left college as an out-and-proud lesbian, only to be shoved back into the closet by the people I hoped would support me the most.
I’m not supposed to tell my extended family, I’m not supposed to make waves, and I’m not supposed to talk about Emilie at home. However, I refuse to be shoved back into the dark, cramped, sad space I have inhabited since I was 13 years old. I want to educate my parents and make them comfortable with who I am and the life I’m leading, because it makes me happy. I will not be ashamed for who and how I love. Welcome to my life.