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