“I don’t even know you outside of Instagram, but this made my heart so warm.”
“Proud of you for finding your voice.”
“Congrats for embracing the real you. I hope everyone can see that you are still the same person you always were.”
“I wish that one day I can be as brave as you.”
“You inspired me to try and be myself, always.”
I came out yesterday on Instagram. Finally. These were some of the reactions I received under the oh-so-hard-to-post coming out picture. I wasn’t aware my speech would inspire people that much.
This is what I wrote:
I have thought about doing this for a long time. Months actually. And it’s finally here.
I’m gay. Or bi. Or maybe just lesbian. I don’t know precisely yet how I want to label myself or if I want to label myself at all. But I’m definitely not the typical heterosexual society wants me to be. I’m more interested in girls than boys. And keeping it secret is something I can no longer do or want. Usually people wait for pride month to come out. To feel they aren’t alone. I wanted to as well, but I couldn’t wait until June. Life’s too short. I wanted to wait until I was ready, and I am.
I was afraid saying it out loud would change the way people see me. I was afraid my friendships with women and my girl friends would change and take a weird turn as soon as they knew, when they shouldn’t. And maybe this new part of me will make them think I’m not the same person I was the day before. But the thing is, my inner self—who was always there—has just been revealed.
I consider myself very lucky. Through all of my discovery and still now, I’ve been surrounded by people who have given me the time and support I needed. It wasn’t all bubblegum flavored at the very beginning because I didn’t accept my truth, so it was hard for other people to accept me too. A year ago, I couldn’t even picture holding someone’s hand or kissing in public places, you know. But I’ve come a long way and I still have a long way to go. My friends and my sister were the first cavalry and fought with me from the very beginning, then my mom, and now my closest family. I chose our reunions at Christmas to finally let them know the real me I’ve been hiding from them for a year. Not a single one turned their back on me or was unsupportive. Some have been quiet, worried I would be hurt by the ancient world where a girl can only love a boy. But they understand I’m still the same, just maybe a little happier, finally knowing who I am. To have found the answers I didn’t know I was looking for. I didn’t want to say it publicly as long as my loved ones didn’t know. I wanted to be the first person to share it with them, just as I wanted to be the first person to share this part of me with you.
Posts like these helped me a lot a year ago when I was just starting to realize I was not really into men and maybe something was wrong with me. That’s part of why I’m writing this. Part of why I’m posting this. I know some of you don’t feel safe to be openly themselves. It’s always very hard to discover a new part of yourself you’ve been hiding without even knowing. I knew there was something in me that was different. I was never the little girl with a crush on a boy. Some teens had Troy Bolton and Edward Cullen posters all over their walls, whereas mine were covered with Gabriella Montez and Bella Swan.
Just know I rewrote this speech a dozen times on the metro, at home, and waiting for my laundry on a cold plastic seat to be sure I said everything. I’m leaving here maybe a bit scared about sharing it with you but with a light heart. Finally.
I was learning to walk before running. And some didn’t understand that. That I needed time. Time to rise, and time to shine as who I am. However, this is also a thank you note to you. I’m so eternally grateful to those who waited and supported me along this journey. It took me a year. I hope you know who you are. And guys, I think I’m ready to run now—single, different and free.
This is how I came out online.
If you’re considering coming out, I want you to listen just a little while longer: You can do this. You’re brave. You’re you. You’re gold. Coming out is never easy. But it’s always yours. Yours to do on your own terms and time. If this reminded you of someone who is struggling to find her or his own voice to come out, I hope you’ll think about sharing this piece.
Whoever you are, let me tell you something I’ve learned by grieving the life I’ve pictured for myself and welcoming a new one: You’re in the driver’s seat of your own life. Only you can know which road is best to take.