Until I was honest with myself I never knew how comfortable I could be in my own skin. It was the leap that scared me. As soon as I declared myself gay openly, I breathed life into the arteries that had been clotting for years. I got to dress the way I wanted to dress without feeling like I wasn’t girly enough, and I got to buy shoes that weren’t fancy flats or heels. I threw away half of my dresses, keeping only a couple for occasions like rehearsal dinners for weddings I always seem to be in. I got skinny jeans and high tops, and embraced the black and gold obsession I’ve had for months. This is me. The real one.
Living inside my head for years caused me to evaluate every option through logic… and every once in a while I would let my heart weigh in. I threw away ideas dealing with serious relationships because that topic confused me the most. I focused on my career, planning for what biases could come with the ‘announcement’ when it was right. I eliminated certain small towns and districts as they disagreed with the way my heart is made. I set myself up for the smoothest coming out I could. I built up my sass and ability not to care about how strangers or acquaintances felt about me. If I didn’t prepare myself like this, I don’t know if I would have ever come out. And now that I am out, I think about all the other LGBT youth out there struggling, hard, to get out of their heads.
The reality of a lot of the LGBT community is we live inside our bodies, inside our heads, until some light gets in and tells us it’s okay. That light can be anything and anyone. Mine was a girl, who I’d rather kiss than not. It sounds too simplistic, something you might say any straight person might experience. Believe me, this girl wasn’t the first one. There were many more after that. I then stopped acting like this wasn’t a thing. I fought through the physical sickness and the burning in my chest because every time I stopped thinking too hard, I felt the weight lift and everything calm.
I began to get a type, which sounds so stupid, because yes, everyone deserves love and blah blah blah. But to me, living in my head and finally having a type on the outside was something to hold onto. Something to believe myself a little more. I started to brand myself with what I truly loved, and surrounding myself with people who loved me too, unconditionally. My mindset changed from keep it in to let it go. (No Elsa puns intended.)
These past six years I’ve been single were evolving years. I consciously chose not to date. I knew in my mind that being with a guy wasn’t for me, especially when one would hold my hand and I’d internally roll my eyes and count down the seconds until it was appropriate to let go. We’d sit on the couch together and watch a movie, his body leaning towards mine and I would hug a pillow instead of leaning in to hold onto him, praying he wouldn’t make a move. So, I decided after college to just stop.
I needed some sincere me time. I became the single woman mascot; I joked that me being single was like a superpower. My friends ate it up. And the real questions about my sexuality never floated to the surface from anyone, and it was my fault. It was all quite calculated. I liked my consistent life outside of my head; I had prepared myself for success. I couldn’t ruin it now, I thought. Little did I know, saying it would set me free.
When someone says, “I just can’t keep it in anymore!” about anything, I believe them. I got there one day. I was tired of living in my head, hoping with my heart, and praying to a God I didn’t even know truly loved me. One text relieved the pressure and the first person knew who I was for the first time in my life.
The LGBT community – open or not – live and have lived inside our heads for a long time, so coming out is basically a physical step when in actuality none of us are in a closet. A physical step in the sense that our entire body reacts. I remember shaking. I remember lying in bed the night before I told one of my best friends, tears rolling from my eyes that were too tired, a head so full it ached. My stomach in knots. This friend is religious, and I was turning around in my head if I could live without them.
She reassured me that everything would be okay and our friendship could never be stronger than it was right then. It’s in moments like these that I knew I had a good group of friends. Coming out to my tight group of friends one-by-one was something I grew to love because their reactions varied from followup questions, hilarious comments, and “tell me everything”s. I never needed to be worried, or in my head, or crying late into the night. I was me, and as long as I stuck by being me, I couldn’t fail.
There were a couple friends who reacted harshly, and yeah, it made me cry, but comparatively when I hung up the phone with them I was still me, freer than before I dialed. I decided that was enough. It is enough.
So for those who didn’t know, well now you do. For those who don’t approve, I don’t give a shit. For those who support me like they have for years, thank you. For all the LGBT youth, be you and forget everyone else. It requires a few extra breaths and a couple friends to talk to. Be proud of who you are, love who you love, and be a support system for each other. I’m excited for the next generation being born into a country where women can marry women and men can marry men without a fight. What’s greater than seeing people happy?