Coming Out – Part 2

About two weeks ago, I wrote this post: https://squeerone.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/coming-out/, about my coming out experiences so far. I thought that it would stay like that for a long time to come. I don’t plan on being in a relationship anytime soon, or at least that I wouldn’t feel the need to introduce a partner to my entire family any time soon. My parents – maybe, but I’m already out to them. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins? – No, I’m not out to them, and don’t think I’ll introduce anybody to them any time soon.

Well, totally unexpected, there was quite a change of scenery happening today. I called my mum tonight. I could tell something was off because she said “Oh! Julia…” when she picked up the phone instead of the usual “Hi! How are you?!”. I asked, she said she did say “Hi”, I must have misheard her. Well after the usual minutes of small-talk about this and that, she told me “I’m with your grandparents, aunts and uncles today. I told them where you’re going tonight.” — “You did what?!”

Tonight, I’m going to a place called Villa. It offers support groups for LGBTQ people of all ages, and also has a bar/restaurant in the same building. I went to their youth-support group which has helped me tremendously, and today, they’re celebrating their 30th anniversary.

So… My mum told my entire family that I’m going to an LGBTQ event tonight, and explained that I identify as bi. I’ve talked about it with my mum before, and we agreed that it’s best not to tell my grandparents about it, unless I really need to (for example when I’m in a serious relationship and want the other person to meet my extended family). Well, I guess she changed my mind and outed me.

In general, I hate to be outed. I hated when my mum did exactly the same thing, also to my extended family, about my depressions and suicidal attempts (which is in my past now, thankfully).

However, my mum said they all reacted quite well, so, I’m actually happy she told them about it. I’m just a little nervous about seeing them the next time and probably being asked a thousand questions about it. I don’t mind questions about it in general, but I hate talking about why I’m not in a relationship, experiences I have made or have not made. (Seriously, is it anybody’s business whether you have slept with people of one gender, two genders, people who don’t identify as either gender?) Maybe I should just be more open about things like that and people would stop asking.

But it does make me wonder why it’s OK to ask somebody “Have you had sex with a woman yet?”, when nobody asks “How can you know? Have you ever slept with a person of another than your own gender?” when one identifies or is known as heterosexual.

Don’t shove it down my throat!

“I’m not homophobic, I just don’t want them to shove it down my throat!” – Haven’t we all heard that line before? Probably followed by a statement such as “What should I tell my children?”, “It’s disgusting. Nobody wants to see that. I don’t care what they do in the bedroom, but you know what I mean….” or “They’re luring our kids into that sick behaviour.”

It is because of statements like these, that I think Yes! – we have to shove it down your throats. Or much rather we’d have to do so, because actually, not that many do.
Of all the heterosexual and homosexual couples, I can’t think of one homosexual couple that takes parts in more PDAs (public displays of affection), than the straight couples. I see straight couples holding hands, hugging and kissing all the time. Nobody complains or even looks twice. However, if it’s a gay couple, all of a sudden just holding hands will be commented with “Keep it in the bedroom!”.

We have rights. Those of us that have come out, have done so to be able to live in freedom and be more open about who they are, not so that they can crawl back into that closet, along with their partner.

But what would the children think? Well, in my opinion, most of them would probably not think of anything else than “Ew”, which in my experience is most kids’ reaction to anything romantic. I don’t think that they need an extra explanation about gay couples, longer than “A lot of times a man and a woman are in love, but there’s also many men that are in love with other men, and women in love with other women. It doesn’t need to be a woman and a man.”
When I was 9 years old, there was a reality-show on TV, with a gay character. My mum asked me “Do you even know what that means?!” which I confirmed. She was shocked, and so was I, because I didn’t know why it was such a bad thing to know what it means or what the big deal is. In my opinion, it’s the grown-ups who make this into a big-issue, whereas I believe that most kids don’t have a problem accepting that love exists not only between men and women. (Isn’t it the grown-ups in the first place, that teach kids that it’s between men and women. What if we didn’t teach kids about that? What if the possibility of two people of the same gender falling love was mentioned right from the start? The “What am I supposed to tell my kids?” issue would be gone entirely, and homosexuality would probably finally be seen as a kind of love that exists besides heterosexuality, and not some “unnatural abomination”.

I don’t think that homosexual couples should be proud and don’t fear being out in the public because of people who say hateful things about them, but because of the kids. I want children to grow up, seeing gay couples. I want teenagers to see that there’s happy gay couples out there. Anybody who’s grown up, with feelings other than the heterosexual majority, will know what it feels like to have these feelings and thoughts, while all we hear from the world outside is “That’s so gay.” or “Faggot!”. When I was in school, there’s also been some discussions about marriage equality and adoption right for gay couples. Most students said “Ugh! What’s next? No way, that’s so wrong!!” I can assure you, to be in the closet and hear things like that all the time, that subconsciously make you feel like “I’m disgusting. An abomination. Not normal. I shouldn’t be allowed to have kids one day.”, that’s not exactly pushing one’s already low adolescent self-esteem. I want them to see “There’s people out there like me! I am not alone.”

I’m a person who always wants to please other people and doesn’t want to upset anybody. (I know that it’s not healthy, but that’s a story of its own…) And yet, I don’t hesitate to kiss another woman in public. In the subway station, on the streets, in restaurants. I don’t care about the people who start to whisper, or the people who stare at you. I don’t care about their negativity, all I know in that moment, is that kissing that other person matters so much more than all the negativity of those people. And maybe, somebody’s watching who realizes “Wow, I’m not alone with my feelings!”.

Hold hands, hug, kiss! We are affectionate people, we have a right to show that we are, just as much as any straight person does. We do not have to hide, and it is not a sign of “I’m not homophobic”, to tell a person to do so.

*Whenever I write homosexual or gay, I also want to include people of other sexual orientations such as bisexual or any other non-heterosexual orientation. However, what’s visible to the outside, is “two homosexuals kissing”. For example, if there’s two women who identify as bisexual that kiss e This is why I only mention “homosexuality” in this article, because this is what can be seen by strangers.

Coming Out

Everybody loves coming out stories. I’ll correct that, almost everybody loves coming out stories. People who see sexual orientations other than heterosexuality in a negative way probably don’t like coming out stories, unless it’s about how somebody was sent to conversion therapy or kicked out of the house.
I know that I was obsessed with reading and listening to other people’s coming out stories, when I decided to come out. So here’s mine, for everybody who’s curious, for everybody who’s had their coming, but in my opinion most importantly, for those who are about to come out.

I am now 21 years old, I came out one and a half years ago, at the age of 19. Before each and every coming out, there’s the realization. For some people that happens immediately as they notice a crush on a person of the same gender, for some people it takes a longer time. I had crushes on girls and women for a long time before I realized that I’m not heterosexual. In some way I’ve seen it as the most normal thing in the world that I was attracted to men and women, however, I also realized that no matter how normal it felt to me, it wasn’t normal to others. I slowly realized that, at first I was confused why the boys in my class told me I can’t join their conversation about gorgeous actresses. And I didn’t quite understood for a moment and thought “Why not?”. Until it dawned on me that I’m not supposed to be sexually attracted to other women. Throughout high school, that was the only problem I faced though, not being able to join conversations about attractive women or crushes on women. I was a very late bloomer and had my first kiss after high school, at age 19, and have never had a relationship, so I never identified as bisexual or felt the need to come out as bi, because there were no actions that needed to be explained or other people involved. It only existed in my thoughts and was my secret for many years.
I was growing up in a rather small town, with no LGBT groups. So the closest I got to the LGBT community was watching a show called “The L Word”, in secret of course, and always rather nervously, hoping that my parents or my sister would never find out about that secret. And they didn’t.
I moved to Vienna after high school. After a year of living there, I decided to go to a Lesbian club night. I was standing at the bar, extremely shy, my hands clenched to the bottle of water I had just bought. Only a few minutes later a woman came up to me and asked me if I wanted to sit with her and a friend of hers at their table. Of course I said yes, glad that I was getting out of that awkward situation of standing at the bar all by myself. After some small talk, we kissed. We also danced a bit together (Thankfully, she was almost as horrible at dancing as I am), and later went outside and took a stroll. We lost the friend of hers at some point, she was probably fed up with the two of us kissing constantly. The woman I met, told me about her coming out, and I could talk to her about my doubts, and about my feelings. I met her two more times after that, and she was the first person I talked about my feelings in person. I could talk about my feelings to a wonderful friend of mine before that, but she lives so far away, unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to speak to her in person yet. My newly-made acquaintance was a beautiful woman, self-confident, intelligent and very attractive, and kissing her, only confirmed what I feared on the one hand, and yet also hoped for on the other hand – that yes, I was attracted to women.
Just a couple of weeks after that I joined an LGBT youth group, where I’ve met many incredibly kind women, and I’ve actually met most of my closest friends there. About three months after that visit to the night club and my first kiss with a woman (my first kiss with a man by the way, was just a week before that), I decided to come out to my mum. So, on March 27th 2011 I told my mum “Mum, I need to talk to you… In private.”, we went into one of the smaller rooms of my parents’ house that had a couch in it, that I nervously sat down in with my mum, after I closed the door behind us. I wanted to tell her, but couldn’t, I couldn’t say the words I wanted to scream. So I said “I’m sorry I can’t. I’ll need to tell you some other time.” She said she needs to know, and started guessing. At first she came up with suggestions such as “Are you taking drugs?”, but soon after that, her face saddened and she said “I think I know… I guess I knew for a long time. Do you…. like girls?”, I said “Yes” and cried, then added “Girls… And boys.”. At first she was sad, devastated. However, she tried to be understanding. Growing up, I heard a lot of homophobic ideas coming out of her mouth, so I wasn’t sure about how she’d react. And yet, she’s the kind of mum that says “Whatever makes you happy” and also feels that way, so I was hoping for a reaction, not nearly as bad as her homophobic remarks in the past might have suggested. She told my sister and my dad the same day, although I asked her not to, but in a way I was also glad that she did it for me and I didn’t have to tell them myself. My sister didn’t care, as I expected because she had some gay friends at university, my father on the other hand suggested to my mum that I should go to a hormone specialist, because I probably just need to take hormones, so that it’ll go away. To this day, I’ve never spoken to my father about it, and don’t wish to. Although I knew that he’s rather conservative, I didn’t expect him to suggest taking hormones.

I was in a fortunate situation when I came out, because I didn’t live at home any more. So I was just visiting my parents, knowing that I’d leave them again in a few hours, no matter how bad the outcome may be. However, I wish I could have told them earlier. My teenage-years weren’t happy ones, and I believe that it’s partly because of this. I suppressed so many feelings, in particular those connected to romance or sex. I had my first kiss at age 19, and have never even held hands before that. I had sexual thoughts and desires, but I never allowed myself to let these feelings become anything more than that, and wanted them to go away. Probably because I knew what was about to come, having to accept the fact that I’m not only interested in guys.

Looking back, I’d say that my coming out was a rather positive one. There were some tears, that hideous remark my father made about hormones, but nobody was screaming at me, told me I’m not their daughter any more etc etc. So it could have been a lot worse.

Coming out wasn’t a freeing experience for me immediately. I remember thinking that day “Was it really worth it? Maybe I could have waited a little longer.”. However, it was very freeing. I am now feeling like I can be myself and don’t have to hide. I know, it feels like “sexual orientation… hmm.. it’s not that big of a deal, why should I have to tell my parents about it?”, but actually, it feels like a big part of who I am. It’s not only about attraction and who I kiss, sleep with or am in a relationship with. It also affects the way I see the world, the way I experience life.

So to everybody who reads this blog and is about to come out, or to those who just had their coming out and doubt if it’s been worth it, my answer is: Yes, for me it definitely was worth it, and I hope that you’ll feel the same way about it soon!
If you are about to come out, my word of advice is: Join a youth-group! Knowing that there are people who you can relate to, people who you can talk to in case your coming out turns out to be a disaster, just knowing that offered me a great amount of relief. And for me it’s a group of people that I could relate to, after many years in high school where I always felt like I didn’t quite belong there, I finally was among a group of people that made me feel like “Wow, I can relate to them! I can be myself around them!”. Although most of them are lesbians, I still felt and feel that I can relate to them much more as a bisexual (or actually pansexual) person, than I can to most straight people.

I didn’t have many friends at that time, so basically by coming out to my parents it was all done, and that was my coming out. I made many friends in that youth group, and I’ve made friends outside that group in the next few months. I was always open to close friends about my sexual orientation, and I’m very happy, that each and every one of my friends reacted positively.