Growing Up Queer & Coming Out

I wasn’t someone who has known they were gay since they were five. I started questioning my sexuality when I was in middle school, but even then I pushed the thoughts out of my mind, and just “knew I was straight.” Looking back on younger me, I’m giving her the biggest eye roll ever.

I remember the first time I ever heard about gay people. I was watching the TLC show Bringing Home Baby, and I was around 4 or 5 years old. There was a lesbian couple on this episode and one of them was pregnant through IVF. I can vividly remember one woman saying, ” I am so happy I married my best friend.” Immediately a light bulb went off in my head, I can marry a girl? Technically you couldn’t “legally” get married then, but that’s beside the point.  I made a life plan (at five years old) to marry a girl (since all my best friends were girls) if I “couldn’t find” a boy to marry.

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Now this should have been a huge alarm going off that I was gay. But even when I thought about it at twelve or thirteen, I made excuses about how “it was normal for little kids to want to marry their best friends.” Fast forward my spring semester of freshman year, and my fall semester of sophomore year, all I could think about was the possibility of being a lesbian. I accepted that I was in fact gay in late summer/early fall of 2015, and then came out to my parents and sister on October 25, 2015.

I knew my parents weren’t going to care, and would love me anyway, but I was terrified. Both my parents are pretty liberal, so I knew I shouldn’t be worried, but we are a very religious family. My dad went to seminary and was a preacher for most of my childhood, and my mom’s father was also a preacher. I had heard so may horror stories of kids getting kicked out because they came out to their religious parents I began to wonder, what if that happens to me?

I felt sick to my stomach every time I would see my parents when I hadn’t come out yet. I wanted to do it really casually, because I don’t think me being gay should be a big deal, but that’s not what happened. I ended up saying to my mom, “I need to tell you something,”  and then sitting there shaking and crying in utter fear for ten minutes before I spoke again. This was exactly how I did not want to do it, but in the long run it doesn’t really matter.

Coming out has made me feel so much more free. It’s only been a little over a year since I told my parents, and i already feel so much more comfortable with myself. The best decision I made when pertaining to telling my parents – or anyone for that matter, was waiting until I had fully executed myself. I think that if I had come out when I was still questioning my sexuality, and didn’t know if I was bisexual or gay or something else, it would have been a lot harder. If I could give someone one piece of advice when coming out as anything, it would be to accept yourself first, and to be open with your feelings. The second part isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I’m someone who keeps most things to myself, but I think when coming out it’s important to be open and honest.

This is my coming out story, in all it’s glory. It may not be that exciting ,or dramatic, or interesting, but it’s a major event in my life. If you’re in the LGBTQIAP+ community let me know what one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to come out. If you need anything, or just someone to talk to, you can contact me through my contact page, or at the email queerly.texan@gmail.com.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

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Feminism and Identity

TW: brief suicide mention, stalking

 

I identify as a feminist, an intersectional feminists to be exact. Until a few years ago I was taught to believe that the feminist movement only consisting of “man hating” women. That couldn’t be more incorrect.

For me, I identify as a feminist because I believe in the equality of all genders. It doesn’t matter is your a man, a woman, or non-binary, everyone deserves respect and equal rights. I’ve got to say I have a really hard time understanding how anyone could not identify as a feminist. I know a lot of people believe in the values of feminism but are too scared to take on the label due to its stigma. My response to that? Cowards don’t get things done. Cowards don’t lead movements, and cowards don’t change the world. Sure there are going to be some people who will role their eyes, and try to invalidate your experiences, but they are simply the problem and not the answer.

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This past summer I went to San Antonio for a funeral. If you’ve been to San Antonio or live there, then you know the Riverwalk is a big deal. I lived in San Antonio for a long time so I have been many times, but since I moved away it had been a while since I visited. I was alone with my mom, and we were leisurely walking down the riverwalk, looking at the restaurants and stores. I noticed a man following us, and he was acting odd. We both started to get nervous so we stopped to take a picture, in hopes we would get ahead of us, but he stopped too. It was then that we could see he was taking pictures of me. I felt completely violated, and disgusted. We went in some shops and tried to lose him but he continued to stalk us and showed up where we were later, so we left.

This is one out of a million reasons why we need feminism. I am not some object you can exploit, and masturbate to later. Not to mention I’m a minor, which in my opinion makes the whole situation 1000% creepier. This isn’t the only time I’ve felt disgusted or violated because someone tried to sexualize me while I was going about daily life. I am an average looking girl, I am very short, fatter than I’d like, and have a flat chest, and a small butt. My body type isn’t one I’d  expect people to go out of their way to look at, so I know girls who have a larger chest, wide hips, or a big butt have probably experienced this much more often than I have. I also know this experience is mild, and so many people in this world have had to go through much worse.  If anyone has treated you like this, I am deeply sorry.

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Feminism is also for men. We need to crush the idea that men have to be hyper masculine, or emotionless. Men are more likely to commit completed suicide, and I believe that societies standard of men having to “be tough” and not show their feelings contributes to this. If you’re hurting inside, you should be able to share what you’re going through without others telling you to “suck it up.” Men shouldn’t be used for money, and expected to bring in more income than any other party in their household solely based off their gender. Some men are disabled and can’t work, and that’s okay. Others are happy being stay-at-home dad’s, and I think that should be normalized.

Feminism is 150% for non-binary and trans people. ALL genders should be respected and have equal rights. Everyone deserves to go to the bathroom they’re comfortable in, and should be respected by the correct pronouns being used. I am cisgender so I have not experienced the hardships of being trans, but I am here to validate anyones experience of gender inequality. Your passport, and driver’s license shouldn’t state a gender that you don’t identify with. I hope our world will shift to better respecting others gender identities.

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And finally, of course feminism is for women, all women. Feminism is for women who work 24/7, and stay at home moms. You deserve to be treated as an equal to men, and you should have the right to get your opinions and ideas heard. I want my children to grow up in a world where women are presidents, and CEO’s, and doctors, and lawyers. I want all girls to know they CAN do anything they put their mind to, and they ARE capable of doing anything a man can do. Living in America, I’m pretty lucky. I get to go to school, and I can achieve my dreams of going to college due to my economic status. Girls in other countries often aren’t allowed to go to school, and many people here in America can’t afford to go to college.

I hope if you began reading this article by rolling your eyes, that you see at least one aspect of feminism a little bit differently now. And if you started off this article by thinking “Yay, I love feminism!,” I hope you found my take on this interesting and insightful. In the end I think feminism is all about loving and respecting all people, but hey that’s just me.

– Alyssa