It’s June, which means its Pride month in the US and so many other places around the world. Its a month were homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people celebrate their uniqueness and wave their rainbow flags with pride. It’s also the 3rd June since I came out as bisexual to my closest family and friends.
In the previous two years, I didn’t really celebrate this month. It always seemed like something for the real LGBT community but not for me – I was a fake. I am by no means ready to proudly wave a rainbow flag of my own. I’d be lying if I said I was a confident proud member of the LGBT community. I’ve spent nearly all my life learning that this wasn’t a lifestyle that was acceptable for me. I think it will take years to unlearn this and fully let go of the shame.
But I am proud. I’m proud of the person I’ve become since I’ve come out. I’m proud that I found my voice and am learning to use it. I’m proud that I’ve had the courage to truly own who I am after all those years of denying it.
I may not be marching in a parade, yet. I may not flaunt a rainbow bumper sticker on my car, yet. But I inch toward that kind of pride, and for that, I am proud already.
What better way to celebrate my first real pride month than by sharing my coming out story with you!
It all started with an orange orangutan… as so many great coming out stories do.
I’m kidding of course! But only kind of.
It was November 8, 2016, which means it was election day. I hadn’t really been keeping up with politics much. I didn’t think I needed to. All I knew was that Obama was out, it was down to Hilary and Donald, and I knew who I voted for.
Though I hadn’t taken too much of an interest in the election that season, I still wanted to watch poll coverage so that I could be a part of a great day in American history – the day we voted our first female president into office.
My boyfriend and I sat at home to watch the results roll in. Obviously, we had wine because what’s a celebration without a glass or two?!
Initial media coverage was underwhelming.
She got a state, he got a state. That pattern continued and the electoral college was pretty neck and neck. Then underwhelm turned into surprise. Had this many people really voted for this buffoon?! That’s shocking.
My boyfriend fell asleep on the couch next to me as I continued to watch. More and more results were being delivered – things weren’t looking good but I held on to hope. I kept drinking more wine because what better way to cope with negative news than with a glass or two?
Toward the end of the night, every news outlet was reporting the same thing. Results weren’t final but it was evident that Donald Trump would be elected the next president of the United States of America.
I was beyond shocked.
Donald Trump was going to be our president. Not Hilary Clinton. The same Donald Trump who openly spoke ill of immigrants. The same Donald Trump who bragged about fondling women without their consent. The same Donald Trump who wanted to build walls instead of breaking them down. The same Donald Trump who thought love was love but not in the eyes of the law. How could this happen?
I wasn’t just shocked, I was mortified. And I was heartbroken.
Politics aside, this man wasn’t just a rambling idiot, he stood against everything I felt so strongly for. His values were in direct conflict with mine and so many other US citizens. That’s what I had thought, at least.
I sat in front of the TV with a very heavy heart, tears in my eyes and a second bottle of wine. I thought about what this meant for me – for the real me. Not the girl I pretended to be but the me that I had hid deep down. I was Hispanic, female and bisexual. I was so many of the things this man spoke of with disdain. As it turned out, so many people – nearly half the US population – agreed with him. Did that mean they also thought very little of me?
Sadness grew but so did anger and courage… Or maybe that was the wine.
What I had meant to be only two glasses of wine turned into two bottles. What had started as pure sadness turned into anger. What was once fear was transforming into courage. Donald Trump was on my mind, the feelings of the country were weighing me down, and I had just enough liquid courage in my system that I decided it was time to stop hiding. It was time to start being myself openly and out loud. And I needed to start by telling my boyfriend.
I woke him up.
He had that kind of reaction you have when you don’t even realize you fell asleep in the first place. I love when he’s like that. I want to smother him so bad in those moments. #cuteaggression
He could see I had been crying and asked what was wrong. I shared the election news. He wanted to comfort me – he thought I was crying because of the results alone. I told him that wasn’t why I was crying, not really.
“I’m not crying because a woman didn’t become president. I’m not crying because this idiot won. I’m crying because this man looks down at a large population of people – colored people, immigrants, women, homosexuals. Javi, I’m not just a Hispanic female, I’m also bisexual. And I think that almost half this country might hate me.”
I could see his heart was breaking for me. He wrapped his arms around me so tight and did his best to assure me I wasn’t hated, not even a little bit. He told me that nothing would ever change the way he felt about me – not even the fact that he and I had one more thing in common – our fondness of the female sex.
It was so comforting to know that no matter what, this man loved me – the real me. I felt truly seen by him for the first time in our relationship. He finally knew everything about me and he still wanted me by his side.
I wasn’t ready to scream about my sexuality from the rooftops yet.
I had only started to accept this about myself for a few months now so coming all the way out was a hell no. But I was ready to tell my close friends.
I told each close girlfriend one by one. To me, it was a big deal. It was news I was terrified to deliver because I didn’t know if that would change the way they felt about me. I didn’t want to lose my friends and I didn’t want them to look at me any differently than they had before.
Of course, all of my friends – every single one of them – responded with overwhelming positivity. Some told me stories of close girlfriends of theirs that were also bisexual. Others even felt slightly envious because, in this political climate, it was good to have a voice with some ground to stand on. I guess my sexuality was my ground..
All of them showed me so much love and support. Thinking about them all now, my heart feels so full. It’s almost silly to think they would have ever thought of me differently.
If there was any friend I was truly terrified to lose, it was my best friend.
Her friendship was still so new to me. She and I had grown really close over a short amount of time and she quickly became the soul sister I had always wanted. I wasn’t ready to let that go. But I always felt like I could be fully myself in front of her and I was about to put that theory to the test.
Over wine one night, I shared my news.
At first, it all came out in broken up pieces. “I’m different”, “Gender doesn’t matter to me”, “Love is love”. I was talking in riddles because I couldn’t find the courage to say it flat out or maybe my liquid courage was to blame. Either way, she was confused and I was frustrated.
Finally, I just laid it out there. “Look dude, I like guys and girls. I always have. I don’t feel good about it but with everything going on, I feel like I have to speak up and actually own who I am. I haven’t told many people yet, but I’m telling you because you matter to me.”
She hardly reacted. She knew me better than almost anyone else and wanted to be methodical in how she made her next move. She didn’t jump to “It’s ok, I still love you.” She didn’t try to console me right away. Instead, she started to cry with me and said, “I think you’re really brave. I get that this must be hard. I’ll share with you something I haven’t told anyone about..”
What I thought might break us apart drew us closer together. I shared my hard truths with her and she shared her own story of shame with me. Our friendship didn’t waver that evening, it grew.
She and I may not be friends anymore but that response meant the world to me. She didn’t try to pull me out of my pain, she joined me in it.
Up next on the docket, my family.
My mom is the link between my dad, my brother and myself. Growing up, we were all pretty close. Later in life, not as much. I talked to my brother once every three weeks, my dad even less. But I talked to my mom daily. I figured I’d just tell her and that meant telling my whole immediate family so that’s what I did.
My mom is someone I’d consider very religious, so of course, I was incredibly nervous to tell her. But if everyone else had such a positive reaction, surely she would too – she’s my freakin mom after all. I used to think she’d help me hide a body if I accidentally killed someone.
I should have known better.
I didn’t have the courage to tell her in person so I called her. After I shared my news with her she said, “You know that’s not right, mija. You know Jesus and the bible say this is a sin. I love you no matter what. Nothing will ever change that but this isn’t right. You know what happens when your time comes. I’m going to be praying for you.”
Pray for me? I’m not right? I’m sinning? My mom basically told me in that very brief conversation that she loved me but believed I’d spend eternity in the fiery pits of hell simply for liking women half the time. What in the actual fuck?!
I can remember some weird mix of frustration, rage and sadness take over. I was so upset that my emotions were physically pulling me out of my seat. When I got off the phone with her, I couldn’t sit down. I was in full on angry tears.
That moment was painful but necessary.
Looking back on it, I think I needed to hear that. I think I needed to realize how utterly fucking ridiculous it sounded to have very old men from a very long time ago write a very strict book that says I go to hell if I like women. While frustration welled up inside of me that night, the chains of my previous beliefs started to fall away too.
I wasn’t a bad person. I wasn’t “not right”. I wasn’t going to hell – not now or ever. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to keep believing these bullshit lies I had bought into all those years ago. I had been a really good person to so many people. I have a heart bigger than the grand canyon and when I love, I love so deeply it’s kind of achy. I spent my whole life trying to do good for those around me and I wasn’t going to sit and listen to anyone tell me I was “bad” or “not right” for this. Not even my mom.
In that moment, I was done with religion, I was done with the church and sadly, I was done with her.
I wondered if my dad and brother felt the same way.
Thankfully, they didn’t.
My dad called me and said that nothing I ever did, said or felt would change how he feels about me. “Those things” didn’t matter to him. My brother called me to say that his ex-wife had also been bisexual and when she told him, he loved her even more. He loved me even more too and was proud of me for speaking up.
And they both explained my mom’s position.
They didn’t believe that my mom really thought any of the things she said. They didn’t think she believed I was wrong or would go to hell. They didn’t think she believed she needed to pray for me. What she believed was that she was supposed to believe those things. Her close religious affiliations made it so that she had to act in accordance with their views. She had to say those things otherwise, she’d be a ‘bad Christian’.
They asked me to give her time and to not give up on her.
Of course, I didn’t give up on her. She’s my mom. No one in the world loves me as much as she does. No poisonous views she was raised to believe were going to change her love for me or vice versa. If she was willing to tolerate this about me, then I could tolerate her beliefs.
Things since have smoothed over completely. None of us ever bring this topic up. There isn’t a point to. I said my piece. My dad and brother accept me and my mom tolerates me, with love. That’s all I really need.
So there you have it.
Fueled by a lifetime of hiding, lots of red wine and a little extra motivation from the newly elected…
..and I was finally out! At least to my closest family and friends.
While I felt a huge sense of relief to finally have shared my truth, I also entered a deep depression. It would take a few months for that to subside. It would take another year before I was fully ready to come out to everyone else. Still though, through the process, I learned and gained so much.
There are probably some people out there that don’t think my coming out story is that big of a deal.
You might be one of them and that’s OK! Look, I get it. We live in America, land of the free. I only came out as bisexual and I’m already in a long term relationship with a male so what’s the big deal?
To me, it was more than a big deal. It was life-changing.
I got to see how incredible love is. It transcends even the deepest of belief systems. Real relationships aren’t broken by hard conversations and showing up as your true self, they are strengthened by it. What an amazing realization!
And on a personal level..
Coming out was the first time in my life that I chose myself over everyone else. I chose to be me over having the acceptance of everyone I loved and cared about. While my physical safety was never in question, coming out made me so fearful that I felt emotionally unsafe. And still, I kept moving forward in the process.
My journey helped me witness my own bravery. It helped me rediscover my voice and over the years, I’ve learned how to use it. I’m still learning how to use it.
So, no, I’m not yet fully ready to wave a rainbow flag of my own.
I’m still learning to shed the shame I picked up a lifetime ago. But I’m inching toward pride with every passing day and I think this is something worth celebrating.
I hope you all enjoyed my story. Happy Pride Month!
If you have a story of your own, I’d love to hear it! If you know someone who might enjoy reading about this, please share!