Coming Out

As I sit down to write this—I have no way of knowing how it will turn out. I hope coherently.

A little about me. I am an out and proud queer person. A lesbian. A lady who loves ladies. But it wasn’t always that way…

I grew up in Savannah, Georgia in a different time and space from where we are now. There were no Pride Parades and conventions celebrating LGBTQ+ communities. You didn’t see a lot of rainbows and Pride flags. I had no idea. Growing up, I had crushes on so many, but did not define it. Looking back, there were crushes I had from elementary school thru college. I always remember the ones at summer camp (thank you Shrimp & Bird & Summer and a host of other female counselors for allowing this little obviously gay—but truly didn’t know it at the time—camper to leave you “I think you’re cool” notes and follow you around and make you crafts that I snuck into your cabin and left on your bed.) And, thank you to the many teachers for not calling me out or embarrassing me for all the cards and letters and awkward conversations you got from me. Those friends I looked at longingly and felt such intense feelings that I could not accept or understand at the time. I didn’t have the words for what I was feeling back then, but I do now.

Where the pain from all those buried feelings I couldn’t reveal—didn’t know how to reveal, was afraid to reveal—all those hidden crushes would almost crush me.

But alas those crushes… those feelings would remain non-defined thru childhood and my teenage years and into college. Where the pain from all those buried feelings I couldn’t reveal—didn’t know how to reveal, was afraid to reveal—all those hidden crushes would almost crush me in the process. (Another story for another time.) Younger me did not have the courage to look closely at myself. The courage to acknowledge the feelings as something “not bad.”

So… I lurked in those gay shadows…the proverbial “closet”… crushing, longing, crying, feeling, loving in secret. Vehemently denying who I was. And if some astute person happened to ask “are you gay?” I would quickly dispense the 4 D’s—Deny. Duck. Deflect. Depart. So, instead of using that moment to exhale and come out.  I just learned to hide it better. I did so many things that were courageous. Yet I could not stand up and accept myself and love myself and come out loud and proud. I did not have that courage I see in so many younger people today.

I tried to date guys. To be “normal” to fit in. Or the heteronormative view society deems as “normal.” It was  easier. It was familiar. Especially in a world that tells you—you are confused or sick or just making a crazy choice if you don’t choose to be “normal.” So that’s what I did. And I refer to this as my “half-life”. Not living my whole authentic life. Because I was scared. Scared of what people would think… how they would feel about me. Would they love me? Like me? It was really exhausting to chase other’s ideas and feelings of who I should be. It was like being on that ride at the fair that spins and you’re stuck to the wall… and no one is shutting it down. You just go round and round…dizzy with fear. Unable to stop.  But I knew I wanted off the ride. I wanted to know what it felt like to stop spinning. To step off, be still and be me. But that wouldn’t happen until my twenties.

I choose to be me.
In the words of a friend…
“I’m worth it!”

When I decided to come out (and there were a myriad of factors that contributed to that—a big one being the amount of positive representation and supportive voices in the world at the time), it was as if a cloud lifted. A weight left my shoulders. I’m not saying it was easy—there were hella “almost coming out” convos, a lot of tears, a few laughs, some friends who still “don’t quite get it”, a lot of hugging and at the end of the day… acceptance. The movie Love, Simon got it right. I stopped spinning and finally exhaled. And now I am happy in a way that kid me could not have imagined. I looked around and realized I could now be and do and say all I’d kept hidden. And the super amazing part… I get to be exactly who I want to be… every day. I have people in my life who love me just as I am. And I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful I don’t have to hide or deny who I am. No more being scared. No more spinning. I have pride in who I am. And I love me. Not just for this month but for the rest of my life. I choose to be me. In the words of a friend… “I’m worth it!”

Is there a part of me that wishes I’d done it way sooner? Of course, there is. But I didn’t know what this freedom would feel like. What being proud of me would feel like. What just getting to be who I was would feel like.

You deserve to love who you want to love. You deserve to be happy in this life. You deserve to choose you. You deserve to be proud of exactly who you are.

If I could go back and talk to kid me, I would say… it’s okay. You’re gonna be okay. Everything you’re feeling is okay. Love will be there for you no matter what. Support will be there for you in spades. You deserve to love who you want to love. You deserve to be happy in this life. You deserve to choose you. You deserve to be proud of exactly who you are.

So, I say to those reading….

Feel how you feel. Love who you love. Be who you are. Just do it authentically. Just know, this life… your life… is a beautiful journey. A journey that only you can take. But at the same time, a journey you can only take once. Make it memorable. Make it exciting. Make it count. And know however you choose to live your life—whatever path you choose to take. It’s okay. You’ll be okay. Choose you. You’re worth it. And… Be proud, because I’m proud of you. You matter and you are loved. No matter what.

—R.H.

Article layout and artwork by Angelo Lagdameo.

Can you relate to Regina’s essay? Do you have a coming out story that you’d like to share with us? Please send us your writing submissions here.

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

16 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kate
4 months ago

Wow Regina! Just wow!! What an inspiring, beautifully crafted piece of work!! This is the epitome of what it means to Wear Your Pride!! I was absolutely blown away by this piece. I, too, buried my feelings but it doesn’t make them go away I found out. I was just in complete denial of who I was because of all the hate and backlash I got from other people after coming out at 15. I am now a proud 34 year old Lesbian and engaged to the most amazing woman I’ve ever met! I finally came to terms with who I was at 27 and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. To be honest with myself.

Thank you for sharing this!

Kate

Bianca
4 months ago

i adore you, regina. thank you for sharing your story. i relate so much to it. wanting to be “normal” or whatever people expect is such a heavy weight and lifting it is freeing but also so damn scary. i’m proud of you. proud of us. so much love. happy pride ❤️

Shandy Marbles
4 months ago

Wow, this is brilliant, so beautifully written, and so much pride and hope. Thank you so much for sharing your coming out process with us Regina.
Although I came out quite young I very much relate to parts of this because of the reactions I got from some people, including my own family, and because I felt like I couldn’t be completely me with a lot of people in my life. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful grandmother who accepted my entire self though, so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
I love how much more accepted LGBTQIA+ people are now compared to when I was young. I know things are still hard for many people, there’s a lot of work left to do, and in some places it’s more than hard to be queer but it fills me with joy to see just how much things have progressed since the 90s. I’m so happy that you get to live your whole life now and be authentically you!

Adrienne
Adrienne
4 months ago

Regina.
Wow! What an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so glad you are now living life to the fullest as authentically yourself. You are so loved. From a LGBTQ+ ally.

lika
lika
4 months ago

What a great read and one I guess that many can relate to.
Been there too, from being too young to understand to being afraid what loved ones or friends would say to feeling this amazing freedom that comes with being who you are for everyone to see.
I lost friends on my way but maybe they were not the friends I thought because me loving women does not make me a different person, I still have all those good or bad sides they liked or disliked in me before.
Maybe not in my lifetime but one day I hope we will all be able to love whoever we want without having to justify it or asking for acceptance of it. Until then those who already have found their “freedom” have to be louder about it beause as Regina said life is a journey you can only take once

lizzy
4 months ago

Thank you for making me feel seen today with your lovely, authentic words. You capture the lack of understanding of your own feelings in a way that truly resonates with me, so thank you.

Dorin Cohen
4 months ago

Wow …this is beautiful ,inspirational and so so relatable!! Your story resonates with me in so many levels. When I found myself falling in love with a woman for the first time I was terrified ,I went through a long battle with myself ,mostly denying it and feeling so guilty and ashamed for those feelings.Unfortunately the “friends” I had back than didn’t made it any easier for me . they kept trying to “normalize” me by saying that I’m confused ,that my feelings are not real and maybe this is just a phase.
Allthough , just a couple of months ago I have finally came out with the help of an amazing friend and a beautiful human being that showed me the beuaty there is in living as my authentic self and that my feelings are real and matters . Now I got to a point in my life where I can finally love and accept myself as I am and be proud of it. I’m no longer scared to say that I’m gay.
your words at the end , speaks volumes to me so thank you so much for that and for sharing you’re wonderful story with us. I’m so happy that you can live your truth proudly and free.
Lots of love ❤

Michela
Michela
4 months ago
Reply to  Dorin Cohen

<3

Jacqueline Ballard
4 months ago

Regina,

This article was inspiring. Really. I can’t say that enough. Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to read. How much I could relate to parts of it. The trying to be normal and how exhausting that is. Learning to live authentically and embracing who you are is a hard journey. I am still in the middle of trying to figure mine out.. but seriously this article spoke to me. Thank you for sharing!

Lynn
Lynn
4 months ago

I agree with others, Wow! Just Wow! Thank you for sharing and writing out so well what I think many of us have felt and experienced.

Sofia Tobiasson
Sofia Tobiasson
4 months ago

Beautifully written, Regina. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and for putting into words how a lot of us feel and felt growing up. Representation really does matter❤️

Michela
Michela
4 months ago

Regina, this is a piece of Art!! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and letting yourself be vulnerable. I bet many of us can relate to your experience and by telling that you sure helped on so many levels, both to out queer people and people who still are in the closet or questioning. I loved the way you decided to tell your story, with such love and honesty. I was so emotional reading it cause it resonates with me so much and I’m really glad I can look up to people like you. For the first time I can loudly say that I’m wearing my Pride!
Thank YOU!!
Love is Love <3

Dorin Cohen
4 months ago
Reply to  Michela

Lev Sheli ❤

Sara Buckle
4 months ago

Another exceptional article. Thank you!
As someone who grew up when being gay was only ever mentioned by homophobes, or we faced violence against the community, I was fortunate to have had amazingly positive gay role models growing up.
Yet so much of what you wrote resonates. Despite the knowledge I had a safer environment than many, I knew that externally I didn’t have that protection outside of that. I knew being LGBTQA was something that put me at risk of attacks, and worse still, the police would most definitely be involved and on the side of the attackers. So I pushed it down for a long time. When I finally came out, as you say it was a relief, as I could breathe.
Coming out for everyone is a personal journey. But once you find that moment where you feel safe, where you can come out – know you are worth it, you are loved. You are part of our Pride.
Please everyone read this article and take strength from it.

Henri
Henri
4 months ago

this is beautiful your awsome x

Steven
4 months ago

Such a great article Regina. I related so much to it because I came out in my twenties after being afraid to do so for fear of judgement from others. I also wasn’t sure what it was I was feeling. Back then in the 80s it wasn’t spoken about at all where I grew up, except for in negative terms. I tried to be “Normal” and that definitely wasn’t for me. The feeling when you come out is incredible! You feel so free and so happy.. so gay!! (never a better word to describe it)

16
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner