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I've Been Out For Four Years And I've Learned…

Mar 26, 2014

  •  By Annie

    That You Don’t Have to be “Gay Enough”
    I felt like it was a club that I needed permission to join and because I felt like I didn’t fit stereotypes and was a stranger to gay culture; I didn’t feel “gay enough”.  It felt like a title that was someone else’s to give to me or take away; especially when people actually would try and take it away by telling me I was going through a phase, that I was too pretty to be gay or that I didn’t know what I wanted.
    It’s important to be honest with yourself in order to know who you truly are.  There is no RIGHT way to be gay or any other sexual orientation and it’s not about fitting in absolutely with the culture; your sexual identity does not come with a rule book.


    That Sexuality Isn’t as Simple as Black and White
    I also have an “anything is possible” philosophy when it comes to sexual fluidity and I accept that I could never know what the future holds; what gender or sex I may fall in love with or be attracted to.  I didn’t want to come out, do all the work to then be criticized for later having a different identity, maybe having to come out all over again.
    Not exactly from personal experience but more from observation and analysis, I’ve learned that if you identify one way, but one time, or sometimes, hook up with or date someone that does not reflect with that identity… it’s OKAY. It doesn’t make you less self-aware or a liar, it just happens; all you can do is be honest about how you feel and do what makes you happy.  Experience attraction freely and worry about labels later.
    That Reactions to Coming Out Are Not Carved in Stone
    I came out to my mom when I was 19.  For some reason, I thought she would take it casually like the “Oh, honey, I’ve known” response, but I shocked her and she cried for the rest of the day.  I just remember her screaming, “You’re a lesbian!” and “The rest of the family cannot find out!” then back into her wails and moans.  It was heart breaking for me because our relationship had been so close for her to push me away like that.
    For the next few years, the topic of my romantic/sex life was difficult, but she promised she would try and be more accepting.  She is still trying and it’s gotten so much better that we can talk about my relationships now, although a girl has never been to my house as more than a friend and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  Coming out is sadly more complicated that I had thought; not always a clear cut “I accept you” or “I don’t”.  People can change; my mother, who was raised with particular views, loves me enough to try and retrain her brain and be accepting of who I am.  I know it could’ve been far worse, but I’m glad I was honest and I remain hopeful that with visibility and information, intolerance can become acceptance and acceptance can become support.  I’ve learned that by seeing it with my own eyes.
    Want to tell us what you’ve learned? Email with your story.
    Annie is the creator of the Stop Hating Your Body blog, a performer, activist and novice photographer and you can follow her on Twitter: @annieelainey

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