I Dated Men for 10 Years and Didn’t Come Out Until I was 24
That was four years ago, and since then, being queer has become a huge part of my life.
Many people assume that if someone were given the option to choose to be straight or be LGBTQ+, they’d, without a doubt, choose the straight life. But for me, that’s not the case. Being queer is one of my favorite things about myself. It’s given me the gift of belonging to a beautiful, compassionate community of people. I wouldn’t change it for the world. (Just to crystal clear, being queer is not a choice – as per Lady Gaga, we are born this way, lol ).
Before I go on, it’s important to acknowledge my privilege. I am white, cis-gendered, femme-presenting, and able-bodied. I have a supportive, loving family. And I live in Toronto in Canada, which is a forward-thinking city with a strong LGBTQ+ community. Together, these factors define my personal experience as a queer woman. I know I am one of the lucky ones – for many many people, being out comes with significant life-long challenges.
“Queer” is perfect because it helps people understand that I’m not straight but doesn’t put me in a strict box
I also want to explain why I use the label “queer.” For those who don’t know, queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities. If someone says they’re queer, it pretty much just means they’re not straight, but doesn’t impose a more specific label.
I’m a woman who’s in a long-term relationship with a woman, but I don’t call myself a lesbian because I have some level of attraction to other genders. Sexual orientation is a spectrum, and for me, “queer” is perfect because it helps people understand that I’m not straight but doesn’t put me in a strict box.
For So Long I Thought I Was 100% Straight
On Instagram, I talk a lot about my experience being a queer woman, my relationship, coming out journey, and LGBTQ+ rights. Most of the time, it’s a magical experience. It’s given me a huge online community of people who I otherwise wouldn’t have connected with. Some of my closest friends are people I’ve met through Instagram. How millennial of me, lol.
I also find telling my story to be very therapeutic. Like I mentioned, it took me until 24 to come out. I never had that “in the closet” period when I knew I was queer but chose to keep it to myself. Nope – the moment I realized I was attracted to women I was overcome with the urge to come out to everyone. In hindsight, I probably would have benefitted from taking it slow. It was an overwhelming realization. For so long I thought I was 100% straight and assumed I’d live a heteronormative life, and then one day everything changed.
Sitting down and writing about my experience helped me make sense of what I was going through. Coming out really shook the foundation of my life. There’s no ‘how-to’ manual. It’s an unpredictable yet empowering journey that’s hard to describe to someone who hasn’t been through it.
So, yeah. Overall, sharing my life on social media has brought so much goodness, from the relationships I’ve made to the many things I’ve learned about myself, to having a positive impact on my audience. These are the things I love.
Homophobia is Still Alive and Well
But of course, there’s a difficult side to it as well. Homophobia is still alive and well, ya’ll. It exists everywhere. Sometimes it’s super subtle. Other times, it screams in my face.
The anonymity of the internet means that people are willing to say things that I guarantee they’d never say to someone’s face. Every single day, I get messages saying I’m going to burn in hell, that two women dating is unnatural, that I’m a waste of a uterus, that I’m gross, etc. I also often get messages from men telling me that I haven’t met the right guy yet and that they’ll treat me right and turn me straight. Vomit.
Those overtly homophobic (and in some cases outrageous) messages actually bother me the least. Yeah, they’re not easy to read, but I don’t take them personally. I actually feel bad for people who are in a place in their life where they feel the need to seek out people on Instagram and send hateful messages.
On a rarer occasion, though, I hear from family or friends who are uncomfortable with my content or don’t know how to appropriately discuss my queerness. For example, one family member accused me of trying to get attention by writing about such “controversial” topics. Someone else told me all the “kissy” photos are a point of contention in the family. Once, a guy I dated right before I came out messaged me and asked what he did to “turn me gay.” Those ones are harder to accept, because they’re from people who know me personally.
I Didn’t Know That Someone Who Looks Like Me Could Date A Woman, Because I Don’t “Look Gay.”
I share my life for a couple of different reasons. Selfishly, I love connecting with people in the LGBTQ+ community. Building relationships and interacting with others who have similar experiences feels really good.
Aside from that, I hope sharing my story will help people who are either still in the closet, considering coming out, or trying to navigate being a queer woman in general. We all have many of the same experiences, thoughts, and challenges, so we should never feel isolated and left to figure it out alone. Also, just in general I want to help people feel good about themselves and encourage them to love every aspect of who they are.
Another goal is to create queer femme visibility. I have long hair, wear makeup, paint my nails, and shop in the women’s section. When I was younger, I didn’t know that someone who looks like me could date a woman, because I don’t “look gay.” I want to help break that stereotype.
Lastly, I hope to help normalize queer relationships. The more people see LGBTQ+ content, the more familiar and comfortable with us they will become. People are scared of what they don’t understand, and that’s gotta end. I want my content to say “Hey look! We are here, we are out, and we have normal, healthy, happy relationships. Get over it, cause we aren’t going anywhere.”