Six years of breathing air out of the closet

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Six years ago as of April 15th (which landed on Easter at the time), I came out of the closet. It hadn’t happened the way I wanted to. I had been a member on the Empty Closets Forum, click here, and looked for support from an amazing online community of LGBTQ and LGBTQ friendly people around the world. I had already told a few of my closets friends from high school and at college and for the most part I felt the support-because it didn’t change how they saw me which I was grateful for. But I was gearing up to eventually tell my family.

I was at my parents house for Easter weekend. I was discussing my long distance relationship with a girlfriend to one of my friends and I thought my parents were out of ear shot but apparently not. Midway through a conversation, my mom comes into the room and angrily comments on what we were discussing. Not knowing how else to respond, I stated that yes I was likely going to marry a woman and I wanted to have elephants at my wedding. My mom stormed off and my friend politely excused herself to go home.

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(Photocredit: Candygurlz)

So at dinner that weekend, in front of both my parents and my younger sister, I stated that I was not heterosexual. I had written a letter (which I thankfully still have), stating that it was difficult for me to accept myself, let alone tell anyone that I was more different than the average person. I told them my struggles and dating different types of men wondering what the problem was, whilst knowing that deep down I was the issue, I was not heterosexual. I originally came out as being bisexual because I thought that my emotional connection with men, but not sexual connection with them would have been enough and that I was just more attracted to them. I shamefully also thought that being bisexual would have been easier to tell people than flat out stating that I liked tacos as opposed to tacos and hot dogs.

It didn’t go well. There were periods of silence, there were days of non stop bickering and yelling. My sister felt scared to tell her friends her sister was a homo for fear of losing friends in high school. I came home one day to find my mom on the phone with an old friend from high school telling her that I needed to talk to a priest and start Conversion Therapy which led me to arguing, promptly packing clothes into a back pack and driving off to live with friends for a few days.

It was rough and a very lonely period. My friends got me through it. Reading people’s stories and vlogs on the internet got me through darker days.

When I was suddenly brave enough to venture out and find “my people” (like minded people in the LGBTQ community), I drove 2 hours from home to find gay events in another city. I found like minded friends. I found people that were just like me, with stories of heartache and inspiration. I realized that it gets better. I realized that you could be yourself and live a fulfilling life and be accepted by good people if you surrounded yourself with positivity and people who were accepting of you.

As the years passed, the questions about “boyfriends” and “grandchildren” dwindled from my parents and were replaced by pronouns such as “girlfriends”. Parents became more willing to meet my girlfriends that I deemed serious relationships. I went through many girlfriends that I thought would be serious but ended up being short lived relationships which was hard on my parents who thought that I would never find happiness.

I have learned so much in the six years that I’ve been out of the stuffy closet I called home for many years. I learned that I don’t have to adhere to gender roles (no one should really but it seems more prevalent in heterosexual relationships). I learned to accept that people would hate or dislike even if you kept your mouth shut and they didn’t know you personally. I learned that my love was different but that didn’t make me less of a person. I learned that I can dress however I want to be portrayed by how I view myself. I learned that I love short hair (not every lesbian does, but I do). I learned how to smile at people who scowl at me when I hold my girlfriends hand in public. I learned how to stand up for myself to people who would say rude things about LGBTQ or people in small minority groups. I learned that I want to be an advocate for LGBTQ rights even though I live in a country that allows things like same-sex marriage and equal spousal support because many countries still struggle with these basic human rights. I learned to speak about my experiences to others who struggle with theirs in attempts to let them learn that they are not alone, and that “It does get better”. I learned to flirt with women-flirting with men was easy-it’s a whole different thing when you suddenly have to flirt with women and you are attracted to them. I learned to become comfortable in my own skin while having sex which was never really discussed while I was growing up. I learned and developed a positive body image (in high school and part of college I had eating disorder issues)-because when you’re happy with how your life is going- you feel more comfortable in your own skin. I began writing a memoir detailing my life in high school, my mental health and sexuality and I hope to publish it to help others deal with their own issues. I learned that if I want to change the world into something more positive, I have to be someone to stand up and do something – volunteer, share links on social media, and talk about things that need to change.

I have learned so much in six years about myself, my hobbies/passions, my career, my friendships and relationships. My confidence has grown and I am starting to shine as an individual. I don’t think that would have happened had I not accepted myself, taken a risk and come out of the closet. It’s a scary thing to admit to the world-let alone yourself.

Just remember, “It Gets Better”. Happy Easter/long weekend for whatever you believe in in this world.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

EmptyClosets Forum
It Gets Better – Youth LGBTQ
Human Rights Campaign
The Trevor Project

The sky is falling

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I haven’t posted in a long time. Life gets busy when you’re busy trying to be a parent, a partner, a lover (not a fighter), a photographer, and someone who tries to do the right thing.

Firstly, I have some expected good/relieving news. Cee and I are engaged! It started out with Cee telling me that she had a surprise for me midway through a week in October. I had a feeling that surprise might have been an engagement ring seeing as our first year anniversary together was fast approaching on the horizon. I had no one to look after the youngest child, so I had to let her tag along with me when I went to the jewelers. Cee and I had already picked out the ring that she wanted months earlier so I knew exactly what to pick. In eager excitement, I bought the ring, had it shined up and kept it in the box. I told the youngest that she’d have to keep a secret until I asked her mom to marry me.

That night at dinner, the youngest blurted out, “We went ring shopping. She bought you a ring,” to Cee. I was so upset. I realized my mistake in taking her ring shopping with me but I hadn’t really had another opportunity to get the ring before our anniversary, so I’d had no choice really.

Cee took it well and smiled and tried to calm me down, telling me “She’s only 6.” I recognized that that was true and that there were worse things that could have been blurted out. This was good news that needed to be shared. So on our anniversary, Cee surprised me with several gifts and cards. She had spent a day making a scrap book of all our memories of a year together with pictures and quotes that she’d made with the oldest child. Tears started falling as I cried happy tears while opening it. It made me so happy that she’d spent time and thought and put it into a book of memories of our year together.

At the end of the gifts, she pulled out a small ring box, and proposed to me. I reached in return to grab the ring box I’d bought for her. We both slid each other’s rings on one another. I bought Cee a sapphire surrounded in diamonds set in white gold. I have a green Peridot set in silver. They both suit us individually so well.

I couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t want the night to end as we dined at the Italian eatery sharing stories and memories of our year together.

Secondly, there is some other good/relieving news about my scattered thinking. I have been seeing my doctor for a while telling him my symptoms, as has Cee. I advocated on going to get tested to see if I qualified for a diagnosis to explain my scattered thinking, disorganization, impulsivity and inattention. I was referred to a psychologist who put me through a slew of tests. I took a personality assessment, an impulsivity computer test, an IQ test and some memory tests. Cee was to fill out an assessment on my impulsivity and scattered mind. I scored quite high on those both by a self assessment and by hers. I scored high on the impulsivity (stupid X on the screen!) test. I scored 115 on the IQ test but scored low in working memory and processing speed.

Basically the tests indicated that I have Adult ADHD-PI which means that I have Inattentive ADHD. I’ve had these symptoms all my life, but it’s only been the last few years that I’ve realized that they have been getting in the way of living to my fullest potential. So now that I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve felt relief knowing I’m not stupid, just that i’m wired differently. I’ve started treatment and my home and work life have definitely improved now that I can be more present.

Now… the bad news. The sky has started to darken and it has nothing to do with the winter season. I am afraid that the love story that is being written by the universe has started to enter a darker period (even if only temporarily).

A month ago, Cee has started to develop some strange symptoms. She’d had some fuzzy spots start to appear and darken her vision in her right eye. She hadn’t told me for fear that I’d (possibly rightfully so), freak out. When she finally told me, I told her to get to the doctor immediately. The next day while I was at work the doctor immediately referred her to an ophthalmologist, someone who specializes in eye health. By the weekend of that first week, Cee had to go to the hospital every day for three consecutive days to get IV steroids pumped through her body in an effort to regain her sight. Her diagnosis was optic neuritis which means that the myelin sheath around the optic nerve in the eye has been eaten away and/or isn’t firing properly. Optic neuritis is one of the first possible symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

I had to watch Cee take oral Prednisone (steroids) after her three days of IV steroids were over. She walked around with pitting edema (fluid filled feet, legs, and hips). It looked so painful. She didn’t feel beautiful anymore. That was so hard to see.

Her symptoms seemed to get better with her vision returning partially in her right eye. About a week ago she started experiencing some numbness in her right side along with migraine headaches. She had to go to emerg and listen to a doctor talk about MS, and testing that they would likely do. She has to go for an MRI soon to see if there are any visible lesions on her brain and spinal cord. She was prescribed an old antidepressant that also blocks nerve pain because tylenol and advil didn’t even touch the migraine headaches.

Cydney’s friends have been great. They have loved and supported us unconditionally. My few friends seem few and far between. It seems like they’re tired of hearing bad news so they simply turn their phones off if I need to vent or need some love and support. Perhaps the age gap between Cee’s friends and mine is too great. Maybe friends my age are too busy living their happier lives while Cee and I face a dark cloud upon the horizon. I will do my best to stuff my anger and numb feelings away, and learn to cry more often. I always feel better after crying, but sometimes I just can’t seem to do it. I hope we make it out of this cloud soon and into a few rays of sunshine, even if the dreaded diagnosis is MS after all. I have to learn to live, one day at a time. We only have one day at a time. We have to live for the now and take steps to make sure the future is as bright as possible.

10 Myths about Lesbians

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Growing up, I had never seen a lesbian.

I didn’t know how they looked, acted or what it was like to live as one. I had never even heard of the term lesbian or gay till some time in elementary school or high school.  I grew up watching two channels, and reading books from the library. I did not grow up reading 50 Shades of Grey or other sexy books like those teens growing up now a days seem to, but there was the occasional heterosexual teen romance fiction novel that I bought. I did not have Ellen. I did not have Glee. I had no access to anything gay until I heard about a lesbian character in Friends and then Will and Grace came around just as I was going into high school. A few of my friends came out to me in high school and against the wishes of my family I continued to spend time and hang out with them. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, they were my friends after all. They’d been there in my childhood and as a teen that wasn’t going to change who they were.

Today I’m going to talk about 10 myths that gay women face. Some of these myths were things I once thought too until I realized that I was in fact gay as well. They are in no particular order.

(Photo Credit: Someecards)

My personal favourite:
1. Which one of you is the man in the relationship? 
This is generally asked by heterosexual men but I have been asked by some heterosexual women as well. As Ellen DeGeneres puts it, “That’s like asking which one is the chopstick and which is the fork.” Both people in the relationship are of the same sex. There is no man in a lesbian relationship. But if you’re asking who “wears the pants”, well by this point, you should know that even in heterosexual relationships, gender does not imply ones ability to wear the pants or not wear the pants. Women or men can wear the pants. This isn’t the 50s. We don’t have to adhere to strict gender stereotypes.

2. You’re gay? You don’t look gay?
Oh… Maybe I should um work on that so people can tell? I don’t understand why people think I should adhere to a strict image of what they deem to look gay to appease them or fit the mold of what being gay “looks like”. Perhaps this question is born out of curiousity or plain ignorance but this needs some education to shine the lights on things that aren’t normally discussed. When this is discussed, I sometimes respond with sarcasm, and sometimes I ask them what gay looks like to them, then I work on breaking down the myths so that the one posing the question can open their mind a bit more and realize not all gay women fit stereotypes.

3. Lesbians uses dildos and other sex toys to fill the void of men. It’s not real sex unless there’s a penis.
FALSE. There are many ways to have sex, fuck and make love. Please get your brain out of your glutes. Not all sex needs to have a penis involved, sorry to burst your bubble.

4. Do butch lesbians always date femme lesbians? Why don’t femme lesbians date men?
Not all butch or more masculine lesbians date femme lesbians. Femme lesbians don’t always date butch women. They can be attracted to whoever takes their fancy, be it butch women, androgynous women, fellow femmes and even those lesbians that don’t categorize themselves into gender specific categories. Lesbians date lesbians; this means that sapphic women date other women who are also interested in women. Heterosexual women and some bisexual women date men.

5. Lesbians hate men.
Not all of us hate men. I know some nice gentlemen. I dislike how some men treat women and question me incessantly about things I do not wish to discuss regarding sexual orientation and that is when the bitchy lesbian rears her head from the recesses of my mind and gives him a word or two. But if a guy isn’t ignorant and sexually harassing me, and pushing my buttons, then I’m cool with him. Don’t be an asshole, it’s not a good look for you.

6. Lesbians are attracted to all women
This is a funny one that I discovered when I began coming out. Sometimes, when you come out to a fellow woman, they become uncomfortable. You can see how uncomfortable she is with the conversation in the way her eyes widen and search for the door, and the way she puts distance between you and tries to not make it look too obvious.
Yes, sometimes lesbians are attracted to women, but not all of them, just as you are not attracted to all members of the sex you are interested in. We have standards and our own likes and attractions. We won’t act on all of them obviously, but we are looking for love too, and generally bisexual and lesbian women fit the bill (at least for me). Even if we are attracted to you and let you know, be flattered and leave it at that, the same way you’d respond if a guy told you he was interested in you.

7. You’re just waiting for the right guy to come along. Lucky me!
Um… no. I am not gay for pay like the women in pornos. I am not gay to attract men who witness me holding my girlfriend’s hand, or giving her a bit of affection in public. We do not make out in public, but the odd kiss here and there is nice. If that is how you feel about trying to inject yourself into a lesbian relationship, maybe you should grow some real balls and go to a class teaching respect and morals. Lesbians truly fall in love and sleep with other women. Perhaps you have been watching too much heterosexual porn with the actresses in their sexy lingerie and long (eeek) finger nails where they get all excited for the man to come in and join their party.

8. All lesbians are fat and ugly. 
Really? Do you know any lesbians? We do not always fit into certain boxes. Some of us are larger. Some of us are smaller. We fit every body shape and size just as anyone of any other sexual orientation. We are not ugly. Be more considerate of others. Everyone regardless of their race or sexual orientation fits every size and has different appearances.

9. Lesbians have short hair
Some do. Not all do, that’s a bit of an exaggerated generalization. I like my short hair. I consider myself to be a lesbian who identifies as slightly masculine but that’s more where I fall on the gender spectrum, not the sexual orientation spectrum. I do not usually wear button down plaid shirts and drive a pick up truck, but I wear graphic t-shirts, sweaters, long sleeve shirts, jeans, sneakers etc most of the time. You get the picture.

10. Lesbians just need to shove their lifestyle down our throats
Excuse me? Whoa… I do not want to shove my… wait, so by living my life openly and honestly that’s shoving it in your face? I have grown up seeing heterosexual relationships my entire life, people holding hands, falling in love, dating, etc and I do not consider that being shoved down my throat. I just want to live my life according to who I am sexually attracted to. Where is your mind anyway?

There are many more myths and stereotypes I could add, but I will leave that for another day.