By Jaclyn Lupo
Well, it’s about time we get up close and personal. I’m dating a girl (well, we aren’t official yet, but I have a feeling we will be soon), and I’ve never been happier. However, getting to this point has been the most challenging journey of my life thus far. I’m not going to lie; it took me years to come out to myself. Accepting others is one thing, but learning to fully accept yourself in a society that still holds judgments against LGBTQ+ relationships is daunting. I want to be as honest and transparent as I can with you. This is no “just be yourself” article. The whole world can tell you to “just be yourself,” but they will never tell you how or admit that for some, it is safer than others.
I wish I could give you a quick guide to figuring out how you most authentically identify. The thing is, sexuality is fluid, so there really is no tell-all solution to knowing if your gay, straight, or anything in between. I’m sorry if that scares you; I promise if you keep reading, it will make more sense.
I started questioning my sexuality when I was 11 years old. My friends began to talk about their boy-crushes, and I never seemed to have one. I blamed it on the fact my particular school had a very poor selection of “cute” ones. I guess the red flag appeared when the band One Direction was all the rage, and I thought all the guys were just meh when EVERYONE seemed to want to marry Harry Styles. Then I hit my teenage years, and those same friends started getting boyfriends. I was never jealous; if anything, I was happy none of the guys seemed to fancy me because I didn’t find any pleasure in spending my time with any of them if we weren’t playing soccer or kickball at recess. I shrugged it off, ignoring any mention of romance in all social situations.
See, due to the conservative nature of my hometown, I never really thought it was possible to fall in love with a girl. The words “lesbian” and “gay” held negative connotations that encouraged me to suppress any feelings I felt because I was taught they were wrong. I genuinely thought there was something wrong with me for thinking the girl in my chemistry class was adorable. I was just so confused. Did I want to be like her or with her? Why did I get so excited when she sat next to me at lunch? How was it that I thought about her all day long, and the “hot” boy everyone loved never crossed my mind?
It wasn’t until I heard the song “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town that I realized I COULD like-like a girl. Those lyrics literally changed my life. It was the first time I was exposed to the idea of loving a girl. Even though the song wasn’t written about queer love, the concept of a “girl crush” seemed to resonate with me, and I started to recognize that maybe my heart didn’t want what society thought I should have.
Please remember that there will be no clear answer in regards to who you were made to love. I can tell you, though, that you should never force yourself to be with someone. In high school, I went on dates with dudes, and I just felt so out of place. We’d be in the movie theater where he’d reach for my hand, and I’d be flushed by a sense of discomfort. Instead of finding excitement for the possible kiss goodbye, I’d be met with anxiety and dread. I’d be sitting across from a relatively attractive boy for dinner staring at the clock, fantasizing about when I could go home. My point is, dating should be an enjoyable experience. You should want to spend time with the person you’re going out with! They should give you butterflies and make you all googly-eyed over them. You should want to talk about them to your friends, and they should bring a smile to your face whenever they cross your mind!
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school I came out to myself. I had been intimate with females, but I never really allowed myself to recognize that I wanted to find a partner of the same sex to share my life with. Coming out to yourself is the most terrifying yet freeing experience. When I was able to admit and accept my sexuality, my heart surrendered. I found true peace for the first time.
So how do you come out to yourself? Well, you simply acknowledge the fact you want to formulate intimate relationships with a certain type of person. You don’t have to place yourself under any specific label. You can just note that you’re capable of loving beyond the traditional heterosexual relationship. I hate labels because I find them confining and demanding to stereotypes. Keep in mind, you don’t have to look or act a certain way to take on a particular identity. You can be incredibly feminine and love girls. You can be very masculine and love girls. Don’t let the media convince you that you need to change. You just have to stay true to yourself and love who you want to love.
So, you’re probably going to ask me about my “coming out story.” Well, I don’t have one. Technically, I’m not “out” to anyone other than my closest friends, and now you. Safety should be your number one priority in regards to this topic, and if there’s a likely chance your family or friends may react negatively towards you, please follow your gut. You’ll know if it’s safe for you to reveal your true self to others. It’s not worth risking your safety over, especially if you are still questioning and exploring. Don’t attach yourself to any labels. Allow room to grow. Don’t force yourself to come out; coming out should not be the end goal. Yes, coming out is freeing, but only if it does not cost you your safety.
In reflection of my sexuality, I’ve come to believe that my purpose is to open the hearts of my close-minded friends and family. I know that I was created to love another woman, yet I was raised believing that homosexuality was a sin. Of course, I’ve reprogramed my mindset to understand that love has no limits. However, I know that society as a whole has not done this yet. I know I am loved by my family, and it is my goal to show them that they can love this part of me. Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a part of who I am, and I can’t change that.
If there’s anything you remember after reading this, please let it be that you are a divine being worthy of love. Kiss the person you want to kiss with passion. Hold their hand. Go on dates, and let yourself find real happiness in their presence. Allow your heart to love and be loved by the one who makes you feel amazing.
Jaclyn Lupo is an editorial writer passionate about fashion, sustainability and culture.