I never wanted my coming out to be a big event. As much as grief and mourning are individual experiences, telling the world and the people closest to you who you really are is just as personal. Mostly because it’s fucking terrifying. I truthfully never thought I would be in a position where I would be coming out – when you wear a mask for so many years, you become used to pretending. I’ve relied on the same tactic for my anxiety and depression: you start to convince yourself that you are okay when you know that deep down you’re drowning. You genuinely believe that living the lie is simply easier, for yourself and those around you. Why be a burden to those you love? If you are fighting your own mental health battle, you know what I’m talking about. Avoidance and anxiety go hand-in-hand, and it became an excuse to pretend to be someone I wasn’t.
In the past couple of years, I have been seeing a professional to try and manage my mental health disorders. I speak with my counselor, take my meds, am more open and honest with people that yes, the stigma around mental health is bullshit and no, I’m not a freak for having these issues. I’m human. Imagine that.
Throughout my journey of self-help, the desire to avoid has lessened slightly and I found myself questioning how long I wanted to continue hiding. After a phone call with my lifelong, childhood friend, another member of the LGBT community, everything came to a head: for the first time, someone knew my biggest secret.
Then, I lost my dad unexpectedly last month. I struggle knowing that there is a huge piece of me that I’ll never be able to share with him, and the countdown on my coming out began to tick a lot more quickly. There is, of course, the fear of how others will react, but society’s backwards view on people that are different, the stigmas and ignorance that hold us back as a whole, has chipped away at me for years and I find myself questioning why our individual identity has to be given value by someone else. It doesn’t, though, because of our society, we believe it does.
Some people find themselves in situations where being truthful is impossible, would put themselves at extreme risk, and my heart is with them. For me, though, it comes down to realizing that the people who truly love or care about me unconditionally are the ones who will accept me for me. I have relatives and friends who have beliefs opposite of my own, extended family members who certainly don’t excel at tolerance, who live in a world of ignorance and hate. Telling them the truth is terrifying, but I began to realize that I don’t live my life for those relatives, and I’m tired of feeling like I have to. If they reject me or can’t accept who I truly am, then they don’t deserve me. I am not perfect, no one is. But I’ll be damned if I will allow anyone else, blood or otherwise, determine my identity, how I live, or who I am. Not anymore.
Fear is a powerful thing.
So, I’m taking it slow. My first post that will one day trickle onto my Facebook and other social media and thus on the timelines for those that are close to me to see – unless I get to them first. My self-deprecating thoughts want to tell me I’m going about this the wrong way, that I’m chicken shit for not just announcing this more obviously to the world. But, that’s bullshit, because this is my choice and that voice inside my head will not choose this for me. And I want to take it slow.
For anyone in the same position, always do what’s best for you.
As of today, I have told only a handful of people that I am bisexual, including three of my closest friends and my counselor. So far, I have been met with nothing but love, support, and understanding, and none of them are treating me any differently than before. Because, as my best friend Dani implied, I’m still me. At the very least, even if I do have rejection and ignorance waiting for me in the future, I know that I have some people in my life that have my back.
And I’ve got yours.