I am 40 years old.
I am married (for almost two years) to a lovely woman who I’ve had a crush on for almost half of my life.
I live in a world where my sexual orientation is a boring statement of fact that isn’t really a thing…or at least I think it is, until someone makes it otherwise.
I started coming out gradually, at 19, first between wrenching sobs to my freshman-year RA, saying that I might be gay. She was the first I told about these swirling, confusing feelings that were only amplified by the roommate (let’s call her N) I had fallen for. I stared at a bottle of Advil, wondering if taking the entire bottle would be enough to put me out of my misery, and I found the strength to put it down, knock on Jen’s door, and just…come out with it.
She managed to talk me into my first experience with therapy, and I’d like to be able to tell you it was magical and wonderful and I dealt with these feelings that I had been struggling with since the age of 6 and I confessed my feelings to my roommate and we ended up not even needing a U-haul until sophomore year because we already lived together.
In reality, the therapist was so difficult to talk to, I ended up not being able to even utter the word “gay” (or any words like it), and after 6 weeks, I started dating a boy (also confusingly named Chris) and abandoned self-help for many years.
I eventually came out to N, who was wonderfully supportive…or at least as supportive as you could be to “I think I might be gay.” I held on to that “might be” for four years, finally coming out after seeing But I’m a Cheerleader. N and I never had our happy ending, either, although I’m not entirely convinced she was all-the-way-straight…and all-the-way-not-into-me. She left our university after freshman year, though, and ghosted me soon after, but not before a confusing visit in which she refused to smoke (unusual for her) and wore outfits so tempting that I can’t believe I kept my hands to myself. I found out years later from a mutual acquaintance that she had gotten pregnant and kept the child. I guess that’s why she dropped me as a friend, but I still never really got over that sense of sudden abandonment. I still always fear that my friends really aren’t and will move on to better people at the first opportunity.
Even without her support, though, I managed to say “think I might be” to almost all of my close friends, and then when “think I might be” turned to “hi, I am,” well, all of my sorority “friends” magically lost my phone number. Facebook keeps suggesting them as friends, and I’m like, “bitch, please.” They don’t get the privilege of knowing me now.
I stumbled my way through telling my parents and one of my aunts, and then it became a thing that just everyone either knew or would never know. I never told my dad’s family because, well, they don’t care enough about me to know this thing about my life.
I suffered through many, many years of low self-esteem, thinking that I didn’t deserve any better than what I had. If I could time travel, I would tell me that, no, in fact, I did deserve better. I didn’t deserve to be almost struck in the face, to be lied to constantly, to be with someone who had to get drunk to sleep with me, to be with someone who no longer found me attractive. I deserved better. And now I have it, and I’m so, so grateful. And lucky.
I know a lot of people who thought that after gay marriage was legalized, the fight was over. Everyone was instantly okay with me because it wasn’t a thing. Then they see how I get stared at in public, how I’m afraid to hold Chris’ hand, how I’m afraid to talk too loud about too many things, and they realize that though it did get better, it still isn’t great everywhere.
Yes, I came out long ago, but every day, I feel like I have to again. I have been told, “If you don’t like people staring at you, why don’t you change how you dress/look/act?” The thing is, it doesn’t matter how long my hair is. I still look hella gay. Now, maybe less hella gay than with this sides-shaved fauxhawk, but still pretty gay.
When I was younger, all I wanted to do was blend in. To not stick out. For people not to realize I was different. To hide who I was.
That ship has sailed, my friends.
There’s no missing me now.
I come out in different ways now — as queer, as married to a lady, as a fangirl on the level of going to cons for vacation, as someone whose good friends are people that I only see in person once or twice a year, if that, and maybe who I’ve only met once. Because all of that is unusual, and people fear what they don’t understand.
So here I am, standing (writing) before you. Coming out. 40. Queer. Lady, despite how I look in a hat. Married. Love my wife. Fangirl. TV nerd. Obsessed. Blogger. Podcaster.
On this day, I encourage and support you to be the you that you are and know that it’s a good thing. You are loved. You are valued. You are valuable. You are important. You are unique…just like everyone else.
Unless you’re a dick. Then try and not be that way, because this lady has no time for dicks of any sort.