Happy Pride Month everyone!
For me, Pride Month is a reminder of the journey and growth I have undergone to become proud of my identity. I did not fully realize yet back in elementary school, but looking back I just somehow knew I was different – I knew I was gay. Then middle school came around, I somewhat knew I liked boys, but I had no one to discuss my sexuality with. Being completely in the closet was hard, and I went to great measures to “act straight”. I was in deep denial.
I was in deep denial because ever since I was a toddler, family members have pushed heterosexuality on me, encouraging me to get girlfriends and saying I was a ladies’ man. I was in deep denial because my family’s religious perspective on homosexuality meant they saw it as a taboo. I even pleaded on my knees and cried to the God I once believed in to “make me normal” because I did not want to disappoint my family. That was the extent to which I suppressed my identity.
Then middle school ended, I entered a different high school than my middle school friends. I remember being asked by some annoying kid in my freshman PE class if I was gay. I hesitantly said no because I had yet to tell anyone about my sexuality. I did have a small crush on some guy in that class, and sometimes I wonder if heard me say I was straight. If that made me lose any mere opportunity I may have had with him, then oh well, sucks for me.
Anyway, toward the end of freshman year, I started to open up more about my sexuality. I never really came out like people usually think. I simply hinted at the fact I was gay by calling these guy musicians cute during the concert band festivals for school. I was sitting with the rest of the flute section during the District Festival, and I remember I was nervous to call the one guy cute. Even though my heart was racing since it was the first time I hinted at my sexuality, my flute session friends simply went with it like it was no big deal. I was appreciative of that because that helped me realize that people will not make a fuss out of it. Now, I am open about my identity to everyone who is not a family member. Please don’t out me to my family. Thanks.
(My freshman year flute section)
Well… that concludes my personal story. I just want to remind everyone that not everyone’s coming out is going to be the same – some will have it harder than others, but that does not make anyone’s struggles or experiences of any less importance. Right now, here is some advice for coming out.
For closeted LGBTQ+ folks:
Coming out is a way to empower yourself and feel more confident of your own identity. However, before coming out, you should be aware of the repercussions. It is awful that there even are repercussions, but if staying in the closet is the best for your own safety, please consider staying in the closet. Coming out may subject you to discrimination and even disownment from friends and family. If even in the slightest you might think that coming out may put you in danger, you do not have to. However, if you do want to come out, make sure you have a back up plan just in case things go down to the worst possible scenario. Make sure you have a place to stay if you get kicked out of your living place and make sure you can feed yourself. At the end of the day, I am proud of everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, closeted or not, and whether you want to come out or not is completely up to you.
If you happen to figure out that someone is part of the LGBTQ+ community, do not out them. Keep that secret for yourself – let that person come out on their own terms. If someone does come out to you, and only to you: that secret stays between you and that person, not anyone else. That person chooses who they come out to and when they come out.
When someone comes out to you: listen. Let that person talk, and when they finish talking, ask questions and clarify things that you are not sure about. Make sure you are not insensitive, and make sure you remain respectful. DO NOT invalidate their identity by asking things like “Are you sure”? Do not ask if they are the “guy” or the “girl” or “who wears the pants in the relationship?” if they are into the same gender. If the person who comes out to you is a gay man, there is no girl in the relationship – that is the point.
To my LGBTQ+ peers, I love you! You are valid and you deserve everything in the world. If you are questioning your identity and have absolutely no one to talk to, I am here for you. DM me at my instagram: @piolopaz.