BY: Traci Taylor
*Side note: An essay I wrote my senior year at Millersville University in my advanced comp class.
To the proud and the fearful,
It gets better, just know that. I know there are moments when you are left wondering if things will ever get better; they will. I understand how scary it is to finally come to the conclusion of discovering who you are. It may take months or even longer, but realize along the way, the fear you have shouldn’t be as greatly a concern for you as you make it. The people who love you now will always love you. If at any moment you are unsure if the ones who surround you truly care for you, don’t doubt their kindness. When people really care for and love you, their minds remain as open as their hearts.
Up until this moment in time, you may have not been sure of the real you. In the back of your head you were, but there was always something missing; I experienced that myself. The time I finally became aware of who I was, I was at an old boyfriend’s house sitting on his porch, crying on the phone to my best friend Joey. That moment was just the beginning for me. Joey helped me get through it. He went through the same struggle the previous year when he came out, so it was easy to relate to him. It took me months until I was able to say the words “I am gay” out loud, but it made me feel at ease once I was able to.
A weight is almost lifted once you can say “I’m gay” out loud. Joey had known me for eight years and was shocked at the fact I told him I thought I might be gay. As surprised as he was, he was still accepting and thrilled that I was comfortable enough to tell him. Our friendship has gotten stronger since I was able to open up to him with such a personal detail of myself. I wasn’t sure at the time if people would be as accepting as Joey was towards me. I was full of fear, but I should have known it was the foreshadowing moment of the abundant loving acceptance I was going to experience.
Society has shaped people into believing what I was admitting to myself and others is unacceptable. Thankfully, the current generation we live in is open-minded and slightly less judgmental. There are still people today that may act cruelly in the future, but in the process of telling loved ones, it is important to try not to have fear. When I finally realized it was time to tell my Dad I was gay, I was terrified. In that moment I seemed to have forgotten that, I was raised by one of the greatest men and to think he would not accept me was naive. Like many others who struggle with coming out to their family; I too was scared regardless of the fact that I knew I was loved unconditionally. Certain friends tried reminding me of that, but I still was afraid to tell my Dad I was gay. It was one of the most difficult things I had to do in my life, or so it seemed that way. Once I got the courage to tell him, I felt relieved and comfortable in my own skin.
From my own experience, I know it may be frightening to be who you are because of the cruelty of society or the fact you may be a part of a religious family background. My own family is extremely Catholic, and that was one factor that brought apprehension upon me. It is important to not assume that people will not accept you for admitting who you are. Religion or other prejudices aside; family should love you no matter the gender of the person you love. After I got the courage to tell my Dad, he asked me why I was so scared to tell him. I brought up the fact of religion and being Catholic. My Dad responded by saying, “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you can’t be Catholic. As long as you’re happy, I love you.” The fear I felt inside was suddenly gone after my Dad spoke those words. Not everyone will or has experienced the acceptance I had when coming out. It is important to remember that even if some people don’t accept you, there are others who love you no matter what. Those are the kind of people you want in your life anyway, not the ones who will force judgment upon you.
The unfamiliarity of how you are feeling may be bothersome. Living the majority of your life not being true to yourself; and then all of a sudden realizing you’re no longer comfortable in the arms of a person of the opposite sex. I have had numerous boyfriends in the past, but those relationships just never seemed right to me. I realize now that my past was only a stepping stone into this point in my life; and the past only molded me into the strong woman I am. Life has only gotten better for me since I came out a year ago.
There will be times along the way when it seems best to want to give up and not believe things will get any easier. Giving in is the easy way out. You have the strength to get to the end of the road and, believe me, it is worth it. The day you can openly admit who you are and not feel any shame, that feeling is simply elevating. There will be struggles along the way. Most of the time I only felt the need to tell people I was gay when I was intoxicated. It seemed like I was never going to get past that need to be in a slightly altered state of mind to admit who I was to others. Now it seems only casual to admit it or joke around about it. Just know when things seem to be at rock bottom, there will be a time when things won’t seem so negative.
In the beginning of 2012, I felt like there was never going to be a time when I could tell my sisters or Dad. Everyone goes through their own process, so I know it was fine to feel this way. When I had the urge to tell someone, I told my sister’s boyfriend, Brandon, (now her fiancé) first. It made sense at the time because I had confided in him about things in the past. The moment I first met him there was an instant bond; he was the brother I never had. After opening up to him, he convinced me it would be best to tell my sisters. This was months before I decided to tell my Dad, so my nerves were greater at this point. Despite being slightly intoxicated, which didn’t make things any easier; I looked into both of my sister’s eyes and told them what I had been holding back from telling them. Things seemed unusual at first, but I realized eventually that feeling was all in my head. They love me the same and always have. One thing I am certain of through my experience is that family is the one bond that is real and cannot be broken. No one should ever have fear admitting to their loved ones who they are.
At a point, all I was afraid of was being rejected. I had heard stories from friends about how they came out, and their situations seemed to go smoothly. However, I had remembered hearing snarky comments from my own family regarding people who live the “lifestyle” I had just realized I was meant to live. I should have given them more credit. At the time they were ignorant to the fact that homosexuality is not a choice. People tend to judge things they do not understand; and at the time my family wasn’t aware of the hurtful impact their comments had. I had to keep in mind that if they had known I was in fact gay, those comments would have not been made.
It’s important to remember to not be afraid of who are, ever. Eventually I discovered that friends and family were more hurt because they weren’t the one’s I chose to tell first. I had always been a decent, kind, and nonjudgmental person to all of my friends. There was no reason for them to now judge me, and that is the lesson I learned after coming out.
The time had come when I met someone that made me realize how important it was to be true to myself. She was there to help make it easier for me to talk about who I was with friends at work and with my Dad. When I first met her, I wasn’t aware of the relevance she was going to have in my life. Jamie was the one person who made me realize it was time to be accepting of myself. In a way, she guided me and opened my eyes to how imperative it was to be comfortable with being gay, regardless of what others may think.
When I was first deciding to tell people I worked with, I was nervous. I forgot these people were like family and absolutely had nothing but love for me. One person particularly surprised me in how accepting she was. I should have never doubted Kim because she ended up becoming a person I confided in with many things. Everyone else at my work was supportive and offered to be there when I decided it was the day to tell my Dad.
Life seemed tough at the time; I thought I was in the worst position. It really wasn’t as bad as I made it seem; it was merely a stepping stone towards my future. It was important to not feel uncertain in such circumstances. I needed to remind myself that life was worth living. Not everyone may be as blessed as I am to have family and friends that are supportive. Many people get the short end of the stick and have to cope with having family or friends that cannot accept who they are. Those people are close-minded. My whole life up until this moment I have never surrounded myself with those kinds of people. I didn’t realize it until that moment, but I had chosen my loved ones wisely. Family, of course, cannot be chosen. I was born into one filled with chaos, but also filled with love, and I am grateful for that.
When the moment came that I decided to tell my Dad; we were sitting at the dinner table and I was absolutely petrified. After a few glasses of wine, I told my Dad there was something important I had to tell him. The first thing he said to me was “if you got a speeding ticket you are off the insurance!” Thankfully my Dad’s humor, and the glasses of wine, made it easier for me to blurt out the truth. I reassured him my news was not as crucial as a speeding ticket. His reaction to the fact I was in fact gay was a mixture of both joy and surprise. I realized the man I had considered my best friend deserved more credit than I gave him. He seemed more hurt that I did not tell him sooner. There was nothing but love given to me after admitting my sexuality to him. The stress I felt was erased. I realized I built the moment up and those feelings of fear for nothing.
The inner struggle people, including myself, go through seems only miniscule once it is easy to openly say “I am gay” without feeling shame. There may be obstacles ahead, even past the point of openly admitting, but I know for sure life is a treasure. People that love me deserved more credit than at some points I was willing to give them. I know now for sure, if a person truly loves you, no matter whom you love, they are worth having in your life. Just don’t give up; believe that the life you live is worthy.
-A woman proud to be who she is