I came out at age seventeen. At first, I came out as bisexual. I didn’t want my boyfriend to think our relationship was fabricated. He was incredibly supportive considering the feelings he had at that time. I was lucky to know him. I soon began identifying myself as a lesbian.
Coming out to my family was more difficult. I told my mother first. She cried and asked me never to tell my father.
I respected her wishes for a year and did not tell him until I was dating a woman for whom I had strong feelings. Initially, he was stoic and said only that he did not love me any less. But later that week, he said he was disgusted with me and asked me to remove my rainbow keychain.
He said it was like having a bumper sticker that says, “I love orgies.” Over the following weeks, my father would take issue with everything I did. He suddenly began controlling the internet because he thought I was looking at gay things on there.
I was not allowed to have female friends in my room. Everything I did was wrong, so we fought constantly.
For the next several years, I dated only women. I lived with them, went on vacation with them, and fell in love with them. My family did not acknowledge the things I said or affirm my relationships.
Out of some sad hope, I occasionally brought my poor girlfriends to my parents’ house. My parents instructed me not to touch them in front of my younger siblings and cousins. Before I moved away, I wrote my dad a letter telling him how much it hurt me to be rejected.
He did not acknowledge it until two years later when my little brother attempted suicide. My brother had been writing letters to me for months about his sexuality. He said he was afraid to tell my parents that he is queer because of the way they treated me.
I drove home that night and told my parents firmly that never again would I conceal a healthy and proud part of myself to comfort them. Since then, my parents have accepted me, and my relationships, with a genuine interest I once thought impossible.
I think that coming out is an issue in the sense that people still assume the sexuality or preferences of other people. I also think that identifying as queer, or not labeling oneself as “gay” or “straight,” has made it easier for a person to come out. One of the hardest components of my coming out was feeling like I had to be certain to explore my feelings.