Deciding to come out can be one of the hardest decisions for a LGBT person to make. It could mean anything from losing close friends to family turning their backs on you. On the flipside, it could mean being brought closer to family and friends who choose to support and defend you. Many teens, such as myself, who fear their parent’s reaction choose to wait until they can leave the house and support themselves before coming out. That had been my plan originally.

I first came out last November when I had my first girlfriend. When we first started dating, I didn’t really tell anyone. I didn’t see the need to cause any unneeded drama with my friends when I wasn’t sure if the relationship was going to last. Slowly, though, word got out. People in the class my girlfriend and I had together started noticing that we were being a little more friendly than normal friends and the rumor started to circulate that I was lesbian. My girlfriend had been out for a few years, but I was new news to the rumor mill.

Before I knew it, people in my other classes, people I didn’t even know that well, started asking me if I was dating her. A few times I lied about our relationship, saying people were just assuming the wrong thing. High school kids are too smart for their own good, so they knew I was lying, but didn’t bother to continue asking. Soon, I wanted to come out to a few of my friends. I had to be careful, though. I lived in a small town that was grounded on Southern Baptist churches, which meant homosexuality in any form was frowned upon.

I picked a few of my more liberal, open-minded friends and started conversations with them that hinted at my being lesbian. When I finally got up the guts to tell them, they took it really well. A few of them told me they had figured I’d come out as lesbian sooner or later and others congratulated me, saying I had courage to be open in such a church-oriented town. Most of my friends took it well, but a few didn’t. One, who I had been friends with for four years, turned her back on me and stopped talking to me. Another was shocked and stopped talking to me as well. I still don’t talk to the first one, but the second one later accepted who I am and it has brought us closer.

Although my friends took it well, I knew my family wouldn’t. I kept everything secret from them and the people at the church I attended. Even though I was proud of who I was, I wasn’t ready to face the close-mindedness that I knew most, if not all, my family and church friends harbored. However, things got out. I came home one day to an empty house and a note on my bed. It was from my mom. She told me she had overheard me on the phone the night before talking about my girlfriend. She said she had cried and prayed that she had heard wrong, told me I was raised in church and knew it was a sin.

So began my coming out to my family.

My two younger sisters soon found out, but my mom hid it from my dad. The rest of my family lived three hours away, which meant it was easier keeping it from them. I knew they, like my mom, wouldn’t understand. Around December, my girlfriend and I broke up, which solved the problem of coming out to the rest of my family. Considering the town I lived in, there weren’t many other lesbians for me to attempt a relationship with, so I laid low for a while.

In April, at State Meeting for FCCLA, I met my current girlfriend. We became a couple on the eighth of May and when we did, we took it public. Facebook-wise, at least. However, I still wasn’t ready to deal with the rest of my family and church friends, so I hid my relationship status from all my family and the people I attended church with. It started getting to me, though. I had found someone I truly loved and cared about, and I hated hiding such a love from the world. I eventually told one of my aunts, and she has become my biggest supporter. This past National Coming Out Day, October eleventh, I announced to everyone on Facebook that I was a lesbian and proud of it. My family has been in turmoil over the situation since, but I have stood my ground in face of their close-mindedness

Despite the hardships that have come with being an out and proud lesbian, I’m glad I went public with it. Before I had, I was always shy to be romantic with my girlfriend in public. Now, though, I’m not. I view our relationships like that of a straight couple and see no reason to be ashamed of holding hands or kissing each other in front of others. Loving her is as normal to me as breathing, and I refuse to let other’s views hinder that love. Now that I’ve come out, I’m even more proud of who I am than I was before. It’s given me the strength to resist those condemning glances I catch people giving us. After all, we’re no different than they are.

Even though I have always been proud of who I am, I was scared to come out to my grandma. She means the world to me and we’ve always had a bond stronger than I have with anyone else in my family, even my parents. I worried over how she would take it and if our relationship would stay the same. When she finally found out and confronted me, I stood my ground and answered the questions she had. After talking about it, she told me she doesn’t support my relationship, but that she still loves me. I had hoped she would understand that love is blind sometimes, but I was content to settle for things not changing between us. We still have a very strong bond and it feels better to not be hiding a part of myself from someone that means so much to me.

From friends leaving me to family not understanding, I’ve had a lot to deal with throughout my journey of coming out. I’ve rolled with the punches, though, and I’ve come out a stronger person because of it. If I had to give someone advice on coming out, I’d tell them to be proud of who they are. Don’t let others tell you that you’re wrong or that your love isn’t real.

If you are serious about loving the person you are with, then stand your ground and prove to others that they can’t sway you. Giving in, even just a little, will empower them and cause them to continue putting you down. The struggle against them will seem unbearable sometimes, but trust me, the prize, being proud of who you are without having to hide it, is well worth it.

Originally posted 2012-01-18 23:33:10.