Happy Coming Out Day!

Happy (almost) Coming Out Day! In case you didn’t know, National Coming Out Day for the U.S. is this Thursday, October 11th. Yay!

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Coming Out Day 2017

My coming out story is maybe different, but also maybe similar to others.

I was raised Catholic, very Catholic. I went to Catholic school for 15 years. I was so Catholic, I went to Catholic preschool.

A lot of the time growing up, I chose it. I believed in the Church’s teachings, in their interpretation of the Bible. I believed in the Trinity, going to Church every Sunday, and saying your prayers about everything.

Up until my junior year of high school, I never gave much thought to anything gay. I thought that if you were gay, the best thing to do was to be abstinent. Of course, I also believed that everyone should be abstinent until marriage. I didn’t think gay people should be able to get married.

I also didn’t think I knew any gay people. I was wrong on a lot of accounts.

I was sixteen when I met a girl who openly identified as asexual, Maddie. I had been brought up with the concept that you are either gay or straight, so I took to google to discover what that meant. It genuinely took me a few minutes to realize that she wasn’t saying she could reproduce by herself.

If you don’t know what asexuality is, it’s a lack of sexual attraction to other people. Of course, every aspect of sexuality is fluid; it all depends on the person.

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Bisexuality Visibility Day 2017

Maddie identified as asexual, and was willing to discuss it. Sixteen-year-old me, while clueless, was definitely curious. The more I talked to her, the more I learned. Soon, I understood more than just asexuality. I could discuss the systematic oppression of transgender people. I understood why I should be a feminist. Most importantly for my own life, I started to comprehend the concepts of bisexuality and pansexuality.

I am bisexual.

And pansexual.

There two are different definitions for bisexuality.

The older definition of bisexual is someone who is attracted to both men and women.

The problem with this definition is that it considers gender a binary instead of a spectrum. It doesn’t include trans, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming people. Some may argue that these can all be in one category, or that there are many more. I don’t know, and I don’t have any right to define someone else’s gender identity. Regardless, anyone who is not a cis-male or cis-female, is not included in the original definition of bisexuality.

The newer definition is people who are attracted to more than one gender identity. Arguably, this removes the bi- from the title, and makes it the definition of pansexual.

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A picture of Nolan Ross, a bisexual character on the ABC tv show, “Revenge”

Pansexual is defined as people who are capable of being attracted to multiple sexes or gender identities. More recently, this definition has changed to suggest that pansexuals are attracted to people REGARDLESS of gender.

To anyone who doesn’t identify as one of these, or is cis-gendered, this may seem over-dramatic. That’s fair. But it matters to people, and that’s what’s important. It matters to me.

I am both. I use the label bisexual most often because I don’t have to explain it. I’m technically pansexual though, because I am attracted to people regardless of gender.

I realized this the summer after my junior year of high school. It had never occurred to me before, mainly because I didn’t know it was an option. I always knew I liked boys and assumed that meant I couldn’t like girls.

Wow, was I wrong.

I started to come out to my friends one-by-one. I kept going until I knew I was going to have to tell my parents. That scared me.

Like I said before, I was raised very Catholic, by two very Catholic parents. I had heard my dad say homophobic things, but I also knew that they wouldn’t kick me out of the house. I was, and still am, lucky. Not everyone is that lucky.

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A rainbow that appeared on Coming Out Day 2017

I was always better at writing than speaking, so I wrote them a letter. It was four pages long. I watched them read it. Yes, it was awkward. No, I don’t regret it.

They told me they loved me and asked me not to come out to the rest of my family. My grandparents still don’t know. My dad still has some moments of open homophobia, but he tries not to complain when I call him out on them.

It took a while to officially come out. Since I still had a year left of Catholic high school, I knew better than to make it well-known around school. After graduation, I began being more open about it.

It took a while for me to be okay with being gay. I lost a few friends and I made plenty of mistakes, but the truth is, it was worth it. I’m happy knowing who I am.

 

Below I linked resources for LGBTQ+ sites and helplines. If you need information or assistance, check them out. It’ll be okay.

https://www.glaad.org/resourcelist

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/#sm.000x5q2yxbn5eau110v1zh3ea0glh

https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth-resources.htm

https://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/lgbt-education/lgbt-health-resources/

“If I could have chosen to be gay or straight, I think I would have simply chosen to be happy.” -Kevin Kidwell

Gram

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Gram and I, December 2012

My grandmother and I are a lot alike. We both hate to surrender control (even when it’s for the best), love to tell stories, and refuse to ever be told what to do. We also love rich chocolate and expensive shoes.

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Gram, Sean, and I, June 2002

Unfortunately, my gram isn’t so young anymore.

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Gram, Christmas 2017

That isn’t to say she’s lost herself completely. She still tells stories like no one else, they just don’t make much sense now.

Gram has dementia.

She was diagnosed in 2015, so it’s been about 3 years since we realized she had no idea what was going on.

Since then, she’s slowly forgotten just about everything. The hardest point, in my opinion, was when she forgot about those she had lost. My mom’s older sister died in a car accident when she was 17. She was my namesake. My grandmother didn’t remember that, and started wondering where her oldest daughter was. Try explaining to someone that their daughter has been dead for 30 years. Then she starts asking about her father.

My mom thinks the current state is the hardest. My gram doesn’t remember people anymore, meaning she sees her husband of almost 60 years and tries to introduce herself.

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Gram and Gramps, May 2018

My gram was born in Ireland in the 1930s. No one knows exactly what her birthday was. Her birth certificate was handwritten, and the month and day were illegible. Since we don’t know her birthday, we celebrate it twice a year. She would never tell anyone her age, and she doesn’t know anymore. We think she’s somewhere around 85 years old, but no one can be quite sure.

When I was around five I wanted to know, so I berated her to tell me. She always refused.

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Gram and I, ~2002

Eithne Beausang, my grandmother, was the first child of a military doctor who spent most of his time overseas. Her mom went with him for 6 months out of the year, so she grew up being spoiled by her grandparents.

My gram had 5 younger siblings, but her best friend was Maeve, her sister a year and a half younger. They suffered together through their brother, Patty’s wrath, Kenneth’s pranks, and Yvonne’s tantrums. Paul was the quiet one.

When they grew up, they had their first children together. Although my gram had moved to America at this point, they remained inseparable.

One of the latest stories Gram told me, although my gramps had to help her, was of riding the most terrifying roller coaster at Disney World. I have no idea what that coaster was, but apparently it had been my grandmother’s goal to get her sister on it. She was successful, as always. However, it came at a cost. My gram, who is hopelessly afraid of heights (another trait I inherited), had to get on as well. My mother almost fell off her chair laughing as my grandfather described the leprechaun-green color the two Irish women turned.

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Mom, Gram, and Gramps, 2016

Two years after my namesake was in a fatal car accident, Maeve was diagnosed with Melanoma. She and her husband died within two weeks of each other. My gram did her best to help raise her sister’s youngest children, who at the time were 14 and 15, as well as her own kids.

Thirty years later, after defeating breast cancer twice, my grandmother was told she had melanoma, the same cancer that killed her younger sister. She beat the cancer, but the medicine from it caused a rise in her dementia. While my grandfather and mom figured out how to treat the dementia, the melanoma returned. She’s in remission again now, but it destroyed her mind. Three years ago, she was a normal, fully functioning person. She would take care of me if I came to visit. Now she gets lost in her own house and thinks her daughter is a stranger.

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Gram and Mom, ~1995

My grandmother is not just her disease though. She’s a doctor, a cardiovascular surgeon. She moved to the United States, alone, when she was 21, for medical school. She had three daughters and a marriage for over 50 years. She has always been the most amazing example of a strong woman.

Another trait I inherited from her is my anxiety. For as long as I can remember my mom has been telling me not to tell my grandmother things because it would worry her.

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Gram and Mom, June 2018

In the last few years, this started to confuse me. I knew that my grandmother had dementia, and wouldn’t remember almost anything people told her. She lived in Texas at the time, so I didn’t understand that she would worry about anything people told her. She couldn’t remember her own daughter’s name, but she knew to be concerned about her finding a job.

Now I realize why. She had been hiding her anxiety for so long, that the dementia taking hold just allowed us to see this constant worry. She has spent most of her life panicking about the lives and happiness of everyone around her, and none of us ever noticed. She hid it until her mind would no longer let her.

There are a lot of reasons I want to be like my grandmother, her passion, determination, brilliance, adventurous nature, and sense of style, but I do not want my anxiety to control me. That is one of the reasons I have decided to be unedited self, my happy self.

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Gram and I, July 2017

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” -Dan Millman

 

 

 

My Backpack Doesn’t Care, Why Should I?

First Day Rapunzel Backpack

If you couldn’t tell by my blog name, I like Rapunzel. She’s a fabulous Disney Princess, but also, her name blends with mine really well.

I also happen to look like her, at least as far as big green eyes and long blonde hair. Unfortunately, my hair doesn’t glow, but I’m working on that.

Rapunzel and I have several other similarities too, a love for animals, a desire to explore, and a lifelong commitment to trying to make others happy.

One trait Rapunzel has that I’ve always wanted, is how free she always feels to be herself. Whether it’s through displaying her paintings all over her bedroom walls, or pronouncing her dream to a bar full of scary men, Rapunzel really does not give a shit about anyone thinking she’s weird.

I have always cared. I’ve always wanted to be liked, but wound up being so afraid that I became invisible most of the time.

So when I decided to dedicate myself to the task of being happy, I realized I had to accept myself, weirdness and all.

I started wearing dresses and high heels more often, just because I like wearing dresses and high heels. I started trying to talk in classes, share my thoughts. Sometimes what came out of my mouth was completely stupid and ridiculous, other times it was smart and creative.

Over the summer, I needed a new backpack. I was at the Disney store with Kariann, one of my best friends. The store is in the outlet mall down the street from her house, so we go there quite a bit.

I had seen this backpack multiple times before, and considered buying it every time. I always came up with excuses, it was too expensive, it might not be the right size, the side pockets are too small, but the truth is, I was afraid.

I was afraid because the backpack was bright purple with a big picture of Rapunzel on the front. It was a backpack designed for a seven year-old little girl, not a twenty-one year old. I was afraid that people would judge me if I wore this backpack on campus, assume that I didn’t belong there, a way I already felt a lot of the time.

On this particular day I had just bought a backpack, plain gray and relatively boring, from another store. When we walked into the Disney store I saw the backpack immediately. It was the last Rapunzel one and on clearance for half price.

“I have to buy it.”

“Really?” Kariann asked me.

“Yeah, why not?”

She shrugged. “I just thought you might be worried about how people will see you.”

For some reason, I was feeling particularly brave. “I don’t care,” I told her.

I brought back the other backpack. As I was packing up to come back to school I felt a lot of my initial fear return.

On my first day of classes, I put on my favorite jeans, high heels, and my Rapunzel backpack. And I looked damn adorable.

“Be weird. Be random. Be who you are. Because you never know who would love the person you hide.” -C. S. Lewis

Beginning Happy

Hi! My name is Chelle and I have decided that I am going to be happy.

Like plenty of people, I have a tendency to overthink things. I overthink about why that guy in my French class was looking at me, if staying in and finishing that book the other night was a mistake, and what the girl who saw me trying to change in the back of my car between shifts must have been thinking of me.

It’s exhausting.

And frankly, it isn’t very fun. After twenty-one years of being on this giant orbiting rock by pure chance, I haven’t figured out a lot. Honestly, I’m pretty lost nine times out of ten. But one thing I have figured out, is that spending twenty-one years worrying about everything was useless. Not once did worrying myself to tears make anything better. In fact, a lot of times it just made everything worse.

So I decided to stop.

Of course, I’d be lying if I told you that I stopped worrying overnight. It’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress. And I’m starting to realize that that’s okay.

Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive. -Elbert Hubbard

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Photo by Moritz Schumacher