Coming out – 9 years later
At 23 years old, I literally woke up one morning and thought, “Holy shit, I am gay.” Seriously, it was so clear in my head that I almost uttered those words out loud. The night before I met up with a friend from high school that I had fallen out of touch with, had a lot to drink, ended up at a gay bar for the first time in my life, and made out with a super cute blonde girl. I kissed a girl and I liked it…Yep, I’m gay.
Although the thought had briefly entered my mind before (but I quickly dismissed because I would not imagine myself sexually with another woman, ick – HA!), I really had not figured it out until this day. I always dated men and I liked a lot of them but there was always a missing element. Butterflies. You know!? I had never felt butterflies from a guy. I just thought I hadn’t met the right one yet. Turns out….
So many people say that they knew they were gay long before they identified as such but this was not the case with me. I had close relationships with other girls/women but nothing ever felt like a sexual connection. Until it did…and the fog immediately lifted.
It actually felt damn good because things finally made sense in my head. This moment of bliss ended quickly because I started to think about the reality of the situation. Telling my friends and family and the rest of the world…wahhhhhhh. Nope.
It was 2008, a year after I graduated college and I had figured out I was gay. Within about a day I had my first girlfriend (obvs). I started leading a double life from that moment.
In my new lesbian life, I had almost all lesbian friends and was out and proud! I went to gay and lezzie bars on the regular, marched in the Pride parade, and I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH. It was so much damn fun. It was a rebirth of sorts and it felt freaking amazing. My life the way it was before, continued as normal…sort of. I did not tell any of my family, friends, or colleagues about my revelation… For a really long time. I told one or 2 people about 6 months to a year later but it was not widely known that I was gay for another 3 to 4 years. I was fearful and ashamed. Ever heard of the term “self-loathing homophobe?” That was me. I didn’t like the label or what people might think of me so I just avoided telling people. Which meant a lot of lies. I can only imagine that the suspicions were alive and well as I started to change the way I dressed. I mean…I wore vests and a silver wallet chain on the regular. And you remember Zumiez, the mall skater shop? I was a regular. *Gay AF*
Examples A & B:
I distanced myself from previous friends and kept my new friends away from my family. It felt so much easier to be myself with my new friends instead of explaining to everyone who had known me for years that I had been lying to them for my entire life and that I am actually someone completely different from who I had sold them on…or at least this is how I felt. I didn’t necessarily feel that people would reject me, I just felt like people wouldn’t understand…that this would be so out of the blue for everyone. And that it would be a disappointment. I underestimated good people in my life because the fear and guilt was so freaking huge.
THANKS CATHOLIC UPBRINGING, THANKS A LOT. *insert sarcastic tone*
To this day, there are friendships that I have never recovered…not because they found out I was gay and didn’t want to be my friend but because I distanced myself for so long that our lives went on in different directions. I feel sad for those friendships and those years that I led a double life. I could not have imagined at the time how good things would be “on the other side.” Things are so ridiculously good right now and I have so many wonderful and supportive people in my life that I can’t imagine feeling any type of fear telling someone that I am gay. It definitely helps that I moved to Los Angeles from Indianapolis 4.5 years ago. When I moved here, no one knew me before so it was a clean slate and I was not afraid to fly the rainbow flag. Ain’t no way I was going to put myself in the awkward position of staying in the closet again. Being femme, people don’t know or assume that I am gay…so I have to tell them. So I quickly got a lot of practice at “coming out” to people. It wasn’t the first thing that I told/tell people but as a single, good looking (or at least I would like to think), girl in her late 20s, it didn’t take long for people to ask if I was married or have a boyfriend.
Them – “Are you married or do you have a boyfriend??”
Me – “Nope.”
Them – “Oh I should set you up with so and so.” or “what is your type in men?”
Me “Oh actually I don’t date men”….*Silence*
Them – “Oh. Well, do you have a girlfriend?” *exhale.*
That’s literally about how it went and still goes pretty much everytime I meet someone new.
Sometimes I forget about how hard the first few years were (thank you to my therapist for recently reminding me)…not because of how other people treated be but because of how much fear and shame ruled my life. Fear of disappointing people that I loved and and shame that I would never be the person that my family had dreamed I would be. In reality, none of my friends gave a shit and my family warmed up to the lesbian daughter idea quicker than I would have anticipated. I can’t say that my Mom was or is particularly thrilled but for the most part I believe that if I am happy, she is happy. And THANK YOU DAD for being amazing when I was scared shitless.
I am now out and proud, on the other side, and i’ll be damned but it did get better! So much better…
XO Liz Baxter
Follow me on:
YouTube: Liz Baxter